In just their second year of competition in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, the Concordia University wrestling team made a big statement by placing 3rd in the conference championships behind Morningside College and Midland University.
It was a total team effort for the Bulldogs, who had 10 of their 12 wrestlers place. Concordia finished with 108.5 team points. The Bulldogs showed a huge improvement since last season when they placed just one wrestler and scored 9.5 team points.
The Bulldogs came out wrestling with intensity and passion, placing seven wrestlers in the semifinals. However, they could only advance Brandon Starkey at 149 pounds to the championship finals. After a major setback, the team refocused and won 8 of 10 medal matches to capture a third place team finish.
125 pounds – Gordie Fowlkes (Newman Grove, Neb.) placed 5th. Fowlkes won his opening round match versus Pedro Ruiz of Northwestern College with a fall in 5:49, and downed Ruiz again in the 5th place medal match, 10-7. Fowlkes is an NAIA National qualifier and has a season record of 18-11.
133 pounds – Adam Joseph (Hastings, Neb.) placed 3rd. Joseph has been out of the lineup since the first of January with a knee injury and had only two practices before the conference championships. Joseph opened up the tournament with a 13-8 decision over Jordan Murphy of Briar Cliff. He was then pinned in the semifinals by Matt Katusin of Midland in 2:15. In the consolation bracket, Joseph won a 7-5 decision versus Jake McManigal of Midland. Joseph defeated Josh Rodgers of Briar Cliff to place 3rd. Joseph is an NAIA national qualifier and has posted a season record of 20-7.
141 pounds – Alex Rostvet (Hasting, Neb.) placed 3rd. Rostvet dominated with his strong defensive skills. In his opening match, Rostvet won a 2-1 decision in overtime against Taylor Phipps of Morningside. Rostvet rode out Phipps in overtime and gained an escape with 22 seconds remaining to win the match.
In the semi-finals, Rostvet lost to nationally ranked Matt McDowell of Northwestern College, 9-0. In the wrestle-back rounds, Rostvet earned a decision over Garth Ginder of Hastings College, 1-0. He then won the bronze medal match against JL Mayo of Northwestern College, 2-1, on riding time advantage. Rostvet will be making his first appearance at the national championships and has a season record of 17-10.
149 pounds – Brandon Starkey (St. Paul, Neb.) placed 2nd. Starkey was unseeded in the tournament. Starkey opened the tournament against #3 seed Justin Ferguson of Hastings. Starkey scored a takedown and a near fall and picked up a decision over Ferguson, 5-0. In the semifinals, Starkey defeated #2 seed Justin Truckenmiller of Morningside, 8-6, off a late third period takedown to secure the match. In the finals, Starkey lost to Jerod Flores, the #6 ranked wrestler in the NAIA, by fall in 4:11. Starkey will be making his second trip to the national tournament and has a 25-15 record this season.
Alex Stepanek (St. Paul, Neb.) placed 5th at 149 pounds. Stepanek lost his opening round match to Jerod Flores of Northwestern, but bounced back to pin Tom Thompson of the University of Sioux Falls. He then won by major decision over Justin Cook of Hastings College, 14-6. Stepanek lost to Justin Truckenmiller of Morningside, 8-0, in the consolation semifinals. In the 5th place match, Stepanek won over John Shrader by injury default.
165 pounds – Blake Augustyn (Ord, Neb.) placed 6th. Augustyn won an 11-3 major decision against Hastings College. Augustyn is an NAIA national qualifier and has a season record of 19-15.
174 pounds – Ryan Perez (Lake Charles, La.) placed 5th. Perez won by decision over Tal Bakke of the University of Sioux Falls, 11-5. Perez is 11-16 on the season.
184 pounds – Andrew Lords (Rigby, Idaho) placed 3rd. Lords dropped his opening round match to the #1 seed Luke Evjen of Northwestern, 10-3. He responded and defeated the #2 seed Kevin Young of Midland University by fall in 4:13. In the bronze medal match, Lords defeated the #4 seed Nick Simms of Hastings College 8-4. Lords is 7-5 on the season after joining the team at the beginning of January.
197 pounds – Julian Silva (Covina, Calif.) placed 3rd. Silva pinned Marcel Moody of Briar Cliff in 1:24, then lost a tight 4-3 match to Tyler Kacmarynski of Morningside College. Silva came back and pinned Zane Platt of Northwestern College (:59). He then defeated USF’s Shed Klooster, 7-2, to claim a 3rd place finish. Silva is an NAIA national qualifier and is 27-8 on the season.
285 pounds – Frank Ayala (West Covina, Calif.) placed 5th. Ayala defeated Northwestern’s Brad Hughes, 8-4, then got caught in a cradle and was pinned by Tyler Thompson of Morningside in 4:31. Ayala then lost a 6-5 match to Cody Millard on a late third period takedown. In the 5th place medal match, Ayala won by injury default over Chris McKinney of the University of Sioux Falls. Ayala is a national qualifier and is 10-4 on the season.
“We had an opportunity to win the tournament with seven wrestlers in the semifinals,” noted head wrestling coach Doug Reese. “We had 7 of 20 semifinalists, but we went a disappointing 1-6 during that round. Our inability to win in the semifinals costs us the opportunity to win the conference title. But to our kids’ credit, they bounced back and won 8 of 10 matches in the medal round. That effort propelled us ahead of Northwestern into third place.”
Final Team Standings
1. Morningside College 165.0
2. Midland University 152.0
3. Concordia University 108.5
4. Northwestern College 99.0
5. Hastings College 61.5
6. U of Sioux Falls 44.5
7. Briar Cliff College 44.0
8. Dakota Wesleyan 40.5
The 2011 NAIA North Qualifier Tournament is set for Saturday, February 19, at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. The 2011 NAIA National Championships are March 3-5 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the US Cellular Center.