FREMONT, Neb. – Senior Brandon Starkey came up short in his bid to earn a berth in the NAIA National Championships for the fourth-consecutive year. Individuals needed to finish in the top four of their respective weight classes in qualifying action or receive an at-large invite in order to compete at nationals. Concordia’s 11 grapplers combined for four wins at Saturday’s North Qualifying Group Tournament in Fremont, Neb.
Brandon Starkey went head-to-head with younger brother Austin in round two of the consolation bracket at 157 pounds. The elder Starkey squeaked out a 5-4 decision to claim sibling bragging rights. Brandon was then eliminated in round three when Jamestown’s (N.D.) Jaykob Miller took an 11-5 decision over the St. Paul, Neb., native.
Peter Ovens picked up a nice win at the North Qualifier after taking his lumps throughout his freshman season. The native of Bellevue, Wash., wrestling at 165, pinned Cameron Childs of Waldorf (Iowa) in 1:40. Ovens finished the day in the second round of the consolation bracket, going 1-2 at the qualifier.
Freshman Chandler Brandert (149) and sophomore Kale Hintz (174) notched a win apiece – both coming in the consolation rounds. Brandert won by decision, 12-9, over Jevon Schnaubert of Jamestown. Meanwhile, Hintz nailed down his sixth pin of the season when he recorded a fall in 1:15 over Jamestown’s Tucker Davison.
Although Austin Starkey went 0-2 on the day, he hung right with No. 6-nationally rated Trever Deverstern, falling 8-5. The freshman, who lost his two matches by a combined four points, finished his season 14-17.
Brandon Starkey posted the best record on the team with a mark of 18-16 on the season. His career has culminated with a school record 71 victories in his four seasons in the Bulldog singlet. He also holds program records for matches wrestled (131) and tournament place finishes (12).
Beyond Brandon Starkey, two of the other 10 Concordia wrestlers who competed on Saturday have national championships experience on their resumes. Alex Stepanek (141) and Frank Ayala (285) had previously appeared in at least one national championship tournament.
The 2012-13 campaign has concluded for the Bulldogs. They finished with a record of 2-10 overall and 1-5 in GPAC duals.