Bulldogs win nine matches, sit in 11th after day one at MO Valley

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 20, 2017 in Wrestling

MARSHALL, Mo. – Twelve Bulldogs represented the 11th-ranked Concordia University wrestling team on day one of the Missouri Valley Invite held in Marshall, Mo., on Friday evening. Bulldog grapplers went a combined 9-9 and racked up 27 team points. Out of 33 teams in the field, first-year head coach Andrew Nicola’s squad sits in 11th place.

Concordia returned to action for the first time since the National Duals (Jan. 5). The Missouri Valley Invite is another showcase event that includes 15 of the NAIA’s top 20 ranked squads.

“It’s great competition,” Nicola said. “We definitely let some slip away – some of the matches that were within our reach like overtime, one-point matches that I think we should be closing. It was nice to get revenge specifically in two matches (involving Cameron Devers and Jon Lado). The guys showed a lot of character there.”

Lado went 2-0 at 157 with wins over Cumberlands’ (Ky.) Bobby Ehman and over Missouri Valley’s TJ Barnes. The only Bulldog more impressive on this particular night was 197-pounder Ken Burkhardt Jr., who has been a constant all season.

Burkhardt Jr. (24-5) needed just nine seconds to dispose of Ryan Paige of Graceland University (Iowa). Then in the next round, the Milford native pinned Cumberlands’ Matt Carroll in 3:33. Seeded No. 1 in his weight class at Missouri Valley, Burkhardt Jr. will enter Saturday’s action with a 14-match win streak. Said Nicola, “It’s nice to see him dominate as the No. 1 seed and hopefully he can polish it off tomorrow.”

Five other Bulldogs posted exactly one win on the day: Cooper Bailey (133), Kodie Cole (133), Ceron Francisco (285), Devers (141), Josh Nelsen (184). After receiving two byes, Francisco defeated Nate Jackson of Campbellsville, 7-1. Francisco now owns a 14-1 record on the season.

All 12 Bulldogs remain in the hunt in their respective brackets. The second and final day of the Missouri Valley Invite will get started at 9 a.m. CT on Saturday. Results can be followed live via TrackWrestling.com.

“I think some of the guys that lost are pretty fired up to get some revenge on the back side,” Nicola said. “It shows a lot when you lose early on but can win matches on the back side for your team. I’m really looking forward to seeing those guys shine. I don’t doubt that we’re going to go home with some medalists. We just have to make sure we’re finishing our attacks. If we wrestle hard we’re going to be bringing home some hardware.”