SIOUX CITY, Iowa – For the most part, the matches went according to plan on day one of the 2020 GPAC Wrestling Championship at the Hindman-Hobbs Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The 16th-ranked Bulldogs combined for 12 match victories and have advanced nine competitors into the semifinals of their respective winner’s brackets at the conference tournament. Morningside is serving as the weekend (Feb. 21-22) host for the nine GPAC wrestling squads.
After day one, second-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad resides in first place in the conference with 64.5 team points. Next in line are Morningside (52.0), Briar Cliff (51.0) and Northwestern (47.5).
“I’m proud of our effort today,” Calhoun said. “I’m excited to still have all 12 in the hunt for day two. There’s a lot of wrestling ahead of us so we need to stay focused and perform like we know how.”
Concordia entered the weekend with four wrestlers carrying No. 1 seeds within the conference: Mario Ybarra (125), Alberto Garcia (133), Darrin Miller (184) and Tanner Farmer (285). Each of those Bulldogs are among the semifinalists. Most notably, Farmer has remained unbeaten at 20-0 after collecting two pins on Friday. It took him less than three minutes combined to wipe out Skyler Bonestroo of Northwestern and Chumkaur Dhaliwal of Jamestown.
The two-time defending champion at 174, senior Deandre Chery was similarly dominant. He pinned both Morningside’s Ethan Reed and Hastings’ Jayden Miller to move on to the semifinals. Bulldog grapplers totaled six pins on the day, including one apiece by senior Chris Kimball (141) and junior Jason Watkins (184). Kimball and Watkins have also punched tickets to the semifinals.
At 184, Miller clipped Midland’s Dylan Buschow, 4-3, to reach the semis. Additional semifinalists include junior Gabe Crawford (win by decision at 157 on Friday) and senior Blake Castillo (two wins by decision at 174 on Friday). Due to lighter numbers in their brackets, Ybarra (125) and Garcia (133) were advanced to the semis without having to take the mat on day one.
Elsewhere, senior Cam Devers bounced back from a loss by technical fall to defeat Midland’s Tristian Snover by major decision. He will have to work his way up on the backside. Sophomore Issiah Burks (0-1 at 165 on day one) and senior Demitrius Miller (1-1 at 285 on day one) are also alive in their respective brackets.
Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Concordia wrestling has captured a combined eight regular-season/postseason championships. The program’s most recent GPAC tournament title came in 2017. The Bulldogs are the 2019-20 conference dual champions after posting a perfect 8-0 mark.
The action is set to resume at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday. Based on this week’s NAIA national rankings, the conference will be awarded 19 automatic berths to the national tournament. The GPAC champions in each weight class will account for 10 of those tournament bids.