HASTINGS, Neb. – The 23rd-ranked Concordia wrestling team had its three-match conference win streak snapped by No. 29 Hastings on Thursday night. The Bulldogs, who attempted to equal the 1970-71 team’s school record of 10 dual wins in a season, suffered close setbacks at 157 and 197 en route to their first GPAC loss since Jan. 16. The Broncos won 21-12.
Second-year head coach Dana Vote’s team completes this season’s dual schedule with an overall mark of 9-8, including a second-place garnering 5-2 GPAC record.
For Vote, the most crucial thing is that his key guys are healthy and up to the task when the regional qualifier comes around in nine days.
“I think we’re sitting pretty good,” Vote said. “We need to make next week really important and get ready to be at our best.”
Concordia won four matches on the night – all by decision. The featured matchup came at 149 where a pair of nationally-ranked wrestlers went head-to-head. Bulldogs junior Enrique Barajas (No. 14 at 149) got the upper hand over Hastings’ Blake Fruchtl (No. 12 at 141) by a 5-3 decision. Barajas won for the fifth time in his last seven bouts to improve to 14-11 overall.
“It was a big match for Enrique,” Vote said. “He gutted it out. They were tied going into the third period. A takedown wins the match and he got a nice shot in. He stuck with it and won it.”
Concordia jumped on top 3-0 after the 133-pound match (both teams open at 125) thanks to a 7-3 win by Kodie Cole (14-13) over Austin Tarin. Additional victories came from Tommy Bailey (157; 9-11) and heavyweight Ceron Francisco (14-16), who ended the night on a high note with a 12-8 triumph.
The Broncos (2-10, 2-5 GPAC) earned six points each at 174 and 184, getting a pin from Tim Rice and then a forfeit to take control of the match.
At 157, the Bulldogs’ Austin Starkey fell by an 11-9 score. Milford native Ken Burkhardt Jr. later slipped, 8-7, after fighting back from a 5-0 deficit.
Standouts Austin Mogg (125; 12-6), Emilio Rivera (133; 18-6) and Austin Fehlhafer (174, 24-8) did not wrestle on Thursday night.
Next up for the Bulldogs is the North regional qualifying tournament hosted by Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, S.D., on Feb. 22. The top four finishers in each weight class earn automatic bids into the national bracket in addition to those who receive at-large selections.