Concordia preparing for return to Vegas for first time since 2014

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 17, 2019 in Wrestling

SEWARD, Neb. – For the first time since 2014, the Concordia University wrestling program will be present in Las Vegas for the annual Desert Duals Classic. The event will unfold on Sunday with each competing team squaring off in four duals. The location will be the Sunset Ballroom within the Flamingo Hotel and Casino located along the Vegas strip (Las Vegas Boulevard). NCAA Division III Wartburg College serves as the event host.

Desert Duals Classic

Live coverage:

Note: Round 1 duals begin at 8 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. CT and then proceeding duals operate on a rolling schedule.

Round 1 – Concordia vs. Vanguard University (Calif.)

Round 2 – Concordia vs. (11) Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.)

Round 3 – Concordia vs. Life Pacific University (Calif.)

Round 4 – Concordia vs. Arizona Christian University

Head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad has won each of its first three duals of this season, all against GPAC opponents. The 19th-ranked Bulldogs have defeated Northwestern, 29-10, Morningside, 23-16, and Midland, 54 to -1. Now in his second season as head coach, Calhoun sports an overall dual record of 12-4 (10-1 within the GPAC). Concordia traveled to the Phoenix area before Christmas last year and went up against four foes from the Cascade Collegiate Conference, just as it will do again this year. During their stay in Arizona, the Bulldogs went 1-3 with the win coming over Life Pacific.

Ranked 13th nationally at 125 pounds, sophomore Mario Ybarra continues to lead the team in wins. He is now 11-3 after earning a victory last week over Midland’s Cesar Sandoval, who tapped out in the first period due to injury. Next in line in terms of wins are Chris Kimball (9-3 at 141), Gad Huseman (8-4 at 141/149), Chery (7-3 at 174), Demitrius Miller (7-6 at 285) and Darrin Miller (6-2 at 184). Ybarra has been the team’s most successful wrestler in tournaments having turned in place finishes of third at the Dakota Wesleyan Open and fifth at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open.

Fresh national rankings will be released on Thursday, but currently Concordia boasts of seven NAIA nationally-ranked wrestlers. Among Desert Duals opponents, Embry-Riddle has eight nationally-ranked competitors, Life Pacific has two and Vanguard has one. Embry-Riddle is rated as the top team in the Cascade, which includes 12 members for men’s wrestling. The Eagles have some star power on their roster with Daniel Butler ranked second in the NAIA at 174 and Tyler Hall ranked fourth at 184. It should be noted that Concordia alum Foster Bunce serves as an assistant coach on the Arizona Christian staff.

Once the Desert Duals conclude, the Bulldogs will wait until after New Year’s Day to resume the season. They are slated to host Ottawa University (Kan.) for a dual inside Walz Arena on Thursday, Jan. 9.