SEWARD, Neb. – If the Concordia University wrestling program is to ascend back to the top of the GPAC pecking order, it will have to conquer challenges like the one it will face on Thursday. That’s when the Bulldogs will continue conference dual action by tangling with 13th-ranked Midland. The dual will get started at 7 p.m. CT from the Wikert Event Center in Fremont, Neb. Head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad will also compete at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open on Saturday.
Stay tuned to TrackWrestling.com for live updates from both of this week’s events. Midland will provide a live stream on Thursday via its Stretch Internet portal. The tournament at Kearney will get started at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Matchups will Midland now come with added intrigue since former Concordia head coach Dana Vote (2012-16) took over the top job for the Warriors prior to last season. Vote has now been named a GPAC coach of the year three times (twice at Concordia) after having led Midland to the GPAC tournament title in 2018. Five Warrior wrestlers garnered national rankings in the preseason with Julian Gaytan checking in at No. 2 at 125 pounds. Gaytan and David Berg (141) are returning GPAC champions for Midland.
The Bulldogs moved their conference dual record to 27-3 since the start of the 2014-15 season by pummeling Dakota Wesleyan, 58-0, last week in the opening dual of the campaign. While half of the 10 weight classes were forfeited by the Tigers, the other five were dominated by Concordia. Cam Devers (149), Issiah Burks (157) and Jason Watkins (165) each pinned their opponents while Zack Moistner (133) and Michael Stann (285) earned victories by technical fall.
So far this season, defending 174-pound GPAC champion Deandre Chery has backed up his preseason rankings of No. 1 in the GPAC and No. 8 in the NAIA. He owns a 10-1 record that includes five pins and tournament place finishes of first at the Dan Harris Open and third at the Dakota Wesleyan Open. Freshman Mario Ybarra is 10-2 having also placed at the aforementioned tournaments. At the heavyweight spot, Stann has made a big early season splash by going 9-2 with five pins. He was a finalist in the bracket at the Harris Open.
Concordia will attempt to avenge two losses that occurred last season against Midland. The Warriors won those duals by scores of 27-12 (NWCA National Duals) and 31-12 in a matchup that took place inside Walz Arena. Based on the probable lineups, the only head-to-head bout between nationally-ranked foes will be at 174 where Chery will go up against 13th-ranked Stephon Gray. Chery already pinned Gray as part of his championship run at the Harris Open. Berg is not listed in Midland’s probable lineup.
Calhoun expects about 15 of his guys to wrestle on Saturday at UNK. That is the same number of competitors the Bulldogs entered into last week’s Dakota Wesleyan Open.
125 – Mario Ybarra
133 – Zack Moistner
141 – Cam Devers / Kyle Carey
149 – Cam Devers / Kyle Carey
157 – Issiah Burks
165 – Jason Watkins
174 – No. 8 Deandre Chery
184 – No. 13 Josh Nelsen / Darrin Miller
197 – No. 13 Josh Nelsen / Darrin Miller
285 – Michael Stann
125 – No. 2 Julian Gaytan
133 – No. 13 Jonas Gaytan
141 – Addison Johnson
149 – Tristian Snover / Sam Dunwell
157 – Tristan Snover / Sam Dunwell
165 – No. 9 Dom Evans
174 – No. 13 Stephon Gray
184 – Devin Brown / Turah Reed
197 – Dom Freeseha
285 – Alton Johnson / Derrell Zarguski