Bulldogs host Doane Thursday to begin GPAC stretch run

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 19, 2016 in Wrestling

SEWARD, Neb. – It’s been more than two months since the eighth-ranked Concordia University wrestling team last competed in a GPAC dual. That will change on Thursday when the Bulldogs welcome 13th-ranked Doane to Walz Arena for a 7 p.m. tussle in a matchup of teams with unblemished conference records. Concordia has won each of its last nine GPAC duals and is the defending conference champion.

Fourth-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad rested several members of its projected lineup (see below) at last week’s Missouri Valley College Invite. Jr Lule, ranked sixth nationally at 157 pounds, took third place at Missouri Valley by winning five of six bouts, while 125-pounder Dmitri Smith placed fifth. Junior Andrew Schulte, who had been the reigning NAIA national wrestler of the week, sat out last week along with teammates Travian Cooke (174), Matt Atwood (184), Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) and Ceron Francisco (285).

During its active conference dual win streak of nine, Concordia has won 70 of 90 individual matches while outscoring its GPAC rivals by a combined total of 324-69. The Bulldogs cruised to a GPAC title and 7-0 league record in 2014-15. Another streak will be on the line Thursday as Schulte, two-time GPAC wrestler of the week, takes his run of 12-straight victories into action.

Meanwhile, Doane has made a significant leap in head coach Matt Hansen’s first season. The Tigers won each of their first 11 duals before falling three-straight times at last week’s UNK Midwest Duals. Doane has won close conference tilts over No. 12 Midland (22-19), Hastings (25-24) and Northwestern (24-14). Hansen’s roster contains four nationally-ranked wrestlers, including second-ranked Cody Linton at 197 pounds.

The Bulldogs will also dual Northwestern (3-3, 2-1 GPAC) in Orange City, Iowa, on Saturday. Originally set for 4 p.m. CT, the match is now slated to begin at 5 p.m. The Red Raiders possess conference wins over Briar Cliff (21-15) and Hastings (22-21).

Projected lineups

No. 8 Concordia (7-4, 2-0 GPAC)
125 – Dmitri Smith (13-14)
133 – No. 11 Kodie Cole (7-7)
141 – No. 8 Andrew Schulte (26-6)
149 – Foster Bunce (6-7)
157 – No. 6 Jr Lule (24-7)
165 – No. 11 Tommy Bailey (22-17)
174 – Travian Cooke (15-10)
184 – No. 6 Matt Atwood (17-4)
197 – No. 14 Ken Burkhardt Jr. (21-10)
285 – No. 5 Ceron Francisco (19-13) 

No. 13 Doane (11-3, 3-0 GPAC)
125 – John Fletcher
133 – Drew Ratkovec
141 – Preston Jurgens
149 – Shelby Thibodeaux
157 – No. 11 Martin Phillips
165 – No. 13 Lance Lucas or John Hedge
174 – No. 8 Kevin Corbett
184 – Kyle Hoffman
197 – No. 2 Cody Linton or Chandler Knight
285 – Andrew Singer or Jake Smith

*New national rankings will be released by the NAIA on Wednesday (Jan. 20)