Chery wins title, four Bulldogs place at season opening tournament

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 4, 2018 in Wrestling

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – Levi Calhoun’s tenure as head wrestling coach is off and running. The Bulldogs got started Sunday morning (Nov. 4) at the 10th annual Dan Harris Open hosted by Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan. Junior Deandre Chery opened up the season in a big way by winning the 174-pound title to headline the efforts of 16 Concordia competitors in a field that numbered in the range of 150.

Chery, redshirt freshman Michael Stann (second at 285), freshman Mario Ybarra (third at 125) and senior Josh Nelsen (fourth at 184) all turned in place finishes at the Harris Open. Collectively, the Bulldogs combined for a record of 33-28 on the day.

“I thought the guys competed well,” Calhoun said. “That’s all I asked is that they competed every second of every match and they did that. There was no lack of effort on anyone’s part. All of our new guys got their first career wins, which was cool. Overall as a team, our effort was where it needs to be.”

A defending GPAC champion and returning national qualifier, Chery appears to be in for a big year. The native of Miami Gardens, Fla., entered this season ranked No. 1 in the GPAC and eighth nationally in the 174-pound weight class. Chery blazed to the championship match with three-straight pins including one over Midland’s 13th-ranked Stephon Gray. Then in the title bout, Chery eked out a 3-2 decision over Jacob Mintzmyer of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO).

“He was absolutely dominant in those first three matches,” Calhoun said. “It was just nice to see him come out that way. He was on fire and he was ready to wrestle. He wrestled a great tournament. It’s the best I’ve seen him wrestle in his three years at Concordia. I’m super excited about his season. If he continues to wrestle like he did today, he’s definitely going to have a shot at getting on the podium.”

Ybarra, who hails from Scottsbluff, Neb., possesses some of the most tantalizing potential among the freshman class. He bounced back from a loss by major decision in his first match to go 4-1 on the day. He ultimately won the third-place tussle by major decision, 13-2, over NEO’s Jeffir Juanes.

Chery, Nelsen and Ybarra all tied for a team high with four wins on Sunday. Nelsen faced a stiff challenge right out of the chute by tangling with the NAIA’s second-ranked 184-pounder in Jacob Smith of Baker. Smith topped Nelsen, 9-4, in the third-place matchup. Prior to that loss, Nelsen claimed a victory by major decision and by pin during his run.

Stann (Temecula, Calif.) may have been one of the biggest surprises of the season’s first day. Stann won his first three matches on Sunday before a loss to Antonio Andrade (NEO) in the heavyweight title bout. Stann put himself in the championship by pinning Baker’s Jake Miller in the semifinals.

Stann, Blake Castillo (174) and Darrin Miller (184) recorded three wins apiece. Kyle Carey (141), Cam Devers (149) and Zack Moistner (133) each collected two victories on the day.

Concordia now looks forward to spending next weekend in Mitchell, S.D. The Bulldogs will dual Dakota Wesleyan on Friday (Nov. 9) at 7 p.m. before competing in the Dakota Wesleyan Open the next day.

Said Calhoun, “There are some things we need to clean up. There were some things we noticed today that need to be fixed or honed in on a little bit, but the focus will be the same as it always is. We want to get better every day and get ready to compete. We’re ready to get into dual season.”