CRETE, Neb. – A large number of family members were on hand to see senior Ken Burkhardt Jr. become the first competitor in the history of the Concordia University wrestling program to reach 100 career wins. The Milford native and two-time All-American achieved that milestone in dominant fashion as part of an impressive series of performances. Burkhardt Jr. went a perfect 4-0 and was one of eight Bulldogs to earn place finishes inside the Fuhrer Field House at the Doane University Open on Saturday.
Burkhardt Jr. claimed his second tournament championship of the season. Meanwhile, teammates Walker Fisher (174) and DJ McIntyre (285) turned in second-place finishes in their respective brackets. The 21 Bulldogs who scrapped on Saturday combined for a total of 39 wins.
“I was really happy with the performance of the team overall,” said first-year head coach Andrew Nicola. “I was very proud of Walker for making the final. It just shows that these kids want to continue working hard and putting the time in. We’ll get back to work on Monday.”
Burkhardt Jr. is on a tear. He pinned all four of his opponents on Saturday, pushing his run of consecutive pins to six. He finished off Nebraska Wesleyan’s Austin Lampkin in 2:44 to give him career win No. 100. He bumped his total to 102 by the time his day concluded with a pin of unattached Trey Schlender in 6:28.
The team leader with 16 wins (eight by pin) on the year, Burkhardt Jr. has put together a sterling career.
“Four and oh with four pins. He looked like a man all day today,” Nicola said. “He’s been sticking to the game plan all season, which is why he’s having so much success. He just does not come out of position and he’s relentless with his hands. He’s got nasty snaps. He’s hard to score on. We just need to keep him healthy and he’s going to be pretty hard to beat.”
McIntyre came on strong this weekend. He ended Friday’s 38-8 dual victory over Northwest Kansas Technical College by pinning the third-ranked heavyweight in the National Junior College Athletic Association. He pinned that same foe again Saturday as part of his 4-1 showing. His only defeat occurred in the championship bout that came soon after he gutted out a close battle in the semifinals against the University of Nebraska-Kearney’s Aaron Griffith.
It was also a big weekend for Fisher, who was fresh off a pin of his own the previous night. The native of Ashland, Neb., eked out one-point decisions in both his quarterfinal and semifinal matches in the 174-pound bracket. In the championship, Fisher got pinned by York College’s Nick Meck.
Five additional Bulldogs ended up placing at the Doane Open, including Kirk Kaliszewski (fourth at 165), Kolton Larsen (sixth at 157) and three that advanced to seventh-place bouts that were not contested: Jon Lado (157), Tristain Sichmeller (174) and Josh Nelsen (184).
The eight place finishes made for a solid day in a tournament with a quality field of wrestlers at Doane.
Said Nicola, “It was a fun tournament with some good competition.”
The Bulldogs do not have any competitions scheduled next week during final exams. They will return to action on Monday, Dec. 19 for the Oklahoma City Duals. National Duals are also coming up Jan. 5-6 in Fort Wayne, Ind.