SIOUX CITY, Iowa – In a day that helped establish which teams are currently the toughest in the conference, the Concordia University Wrestling program went up against two league foes as part of the GPAC Duals on Tuesday (Nov. 22). The Bulldogs defeated Dakota Wesleyan, 22-17, before falling at the hands of No. 12 Morningside, 35-6, in the night cap. Eight GPAC duals were hosted inside the Long Lines Family Recreation Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
Head Coach Chase Clasen’s squad came away with seven individual match victories on the night. Concordia is already halfway through the GPAC dual schedule with a record of 3-1.
“It’s disappointing coming home with a loss,” Clasen said. “We’re not disappointed in the effort though. Everyone came out there and fought through positions and looked to win. We knew Dakota Wesleyan would be tough and I think our guys wrestled really well. Issiah Burks wrestled a kid ranked 22nd in the country and was able to avenge two losses to him from last year. I think that’s huge.
“With Morningside, I think we gave a little bit too much respect in those matches. I feel like our guys felt like they needed to go big in order to win, so we went big in a few of those matches and we got put down. I think if we wrestle straight up, we can compete. They caught us off a guard at times. Props to Morningside.”
Dakota Wesleyan (1-2 GPAC) has shown it is much improved over the 2021-22 season when it went 0-8 in GPAC duals. Every bonus point mattered as the two sides evenly split the 10 matches. As mentioned by Clasen, Burks came through with the highlight of the night when he edged the NAIA’s 22nd-ranked 165-pounder, Kaleb Bigelow, 5-4. At that point, the Bulldogs had built an 18-6 lead in the team scoring. At 184 pounds, Stephen Duffy won by major decision, 16-4, and pushed the advantage to 22-11.
Additional victories in the DWU dual by Grant Wells (forfeit at 125), Creighton Baughman (decision at 141) and Tommy Wentz (pin at 157) were enough to get the job done. A transfer from York College, Wentz has held down the 157-pound spot in all four duals so far this season. He pinned the Tigers’ Tyson Johnson right near the close of the first period (2:58). Meanwhile, three Concordia wrestlers lost by decision: Thomas Ivey (133), Clayton Laabs (197) and Jack Hedke (285).
The Mustangs (1-0 GPAC) may be the biggest challenger to Doane’s throne at the top of conference. Morningside boasts seven nationally ranked competitors. The hometown Mustangs were able to run away with the dual while winning three matches via fall and two by major decision. It was a 14-0 team score in Morningside’s favor before Jeaven Scdoris got the Bulldogs on the board with a win by a 9-8 decision at 149. Then at 197, Laabs bounced back and defeated Sendeska Kalskett, 7-1. The lineup for Concordia included the exact same 10 wrestlers for both of Tuesday’s duals.
Clasen now has a better feel for what it takes to be successful against GPAC opponents. The Bulldogs had entered the night having already beaten two conference combatants: Midland and Hastings.
Said Clasen, “Doane is No. 6 and Morningside is No. 12 in the country. Those teams are obviously really talented. We’re not there yet, but it doesn’t mean we can’t get there. We’re young right now and it’s about fixing those little positions. We’ll see how it all plays out.”
Concordia will have the remainder of the Thanksgiving holiday week off from competition. Next up on the schedule will be a home dual with Bethany College (Kan.) on Dec. 2. It will mark the Bulldogs’ first home appearance of the 2022-23 season.