The Concordia University wrestling team holds steady at #17 in the NAIA after the first month of the season. The latest NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll was released on November 23.
A total of five Bulldog wrestlers are nationally ranked in the current poll. At 133 pounds, Jake Williams (Rio Rancho, N.M.) is ranked #9 and teammate Adam Joseph (Hastings, Neb.) is ranked #11. Williams is 11-2 with two tournament titles, and Joseph is off to a team leading 15-2 record with a championship title and two third place finishes.
Junior Brandon Starkey (St. Paul, Neb.) is ranked #10 at 149 pounds. Starkey is 11-6 and has placed in all three tournaments so far this season.
Alfredo “Boxer” Torres (La Puenta, Calif.) is ranked #6 at 174 pounds. Torres is 6-2 on the year and has a championship title and a 5th place finish in the young season.
Heavyweight Dillon Heesch (Dayton, Iowa) is ranked #10. Heesch is 6-2 on the year with second place finishes in the Dan Harris Open and the Bethany Swede Open.
“We have had a good first month of the season,” noted head coach Doug Reese. “It is nice to have these guys recognized by the NAIA Coaches as nationally ranked wrestlers. But, I am disappointed that Alex Stepanek and Traven Claflin were let off the latest poll. Both are off to a tremendous start this season.”
Alex Stepanek (St. Paul, Neb.) is 9-5 with two runner-up finishes this season at 141 pounds, winning a starting position for the Bulldogs over NAIA qualifier Alex Rostvet. Freshman Traven Claflin (Sumner, Neb.) is 10-5 at 157 pounds with a pair of tournament finishes.
“Most people don’t realize how tough our conference is in the sport of wrestling,” commented Reese. “Even though we are ranked #17 in the nation, there are four GPAC schools ranked ahead of us. That is what makes this conference so challenging.”