The NAIA released its Pre-Season Wrestling Coaches Poll on October 19. The Concordia University wrestling team was ranked 17th in the nation. This is the highest ranking thus far for the third-year mat program.
“It is nice to be recognized nationally,” said head wrestling coach Doug Reese. “However, we don’t aspire to be 17th in anything we do. We want to be the best we can possibly be in all areas of our academic, competitive and spiritual lives.”
Two Bulldog wrestlers earned preseason national rankings. Dillon Heesch a redshirt from Dayton, Iowa, was ranked 8th at 285 pounds. Heesch amassed a 14-3 record last season, medaling in three tournaments and picking up wins over 2011 All-Americans from Baker College and Fort Hays State.
“Heesch is an All-American who is waiting to be officially recognized,” said Reese. “He is a superb athlete who is physical, and tough. He is a two-time heavyweight state champion from Iowa. That says plenty about his ability.”
Junior Brandon Starkey was ranked 10th at 149 pounds. Starkey, a two-time NAIA national championship qualifier, has won 55 collegiate matches in the last two seasons.
“Starkey has been a leader on the mat for two seasons,” noted Reese. “When he steps on the mat, we expect a win. That is the kind of confidence we have in him.”
Junior transfer Alfredo “Boxer” Torres was ranked 5th at 174 pounds. Torres placed 4th last season during his time at Mt. San Antonio College to earn California Junior College All-American honors.
“Torres is a perfect fit for our team,” mentioned Reese. “He is tough, has great technique and is a wonderful teammate. He is going to do his share of damage in the GPAC this season.”
Missing from the rankings was sophomore Adam Joseph (Hastings, Neb.). Joseph was ranked as high as 7th last season. The 133-pounder won 33 matches last season and was an all-GPAC selection and seated in the NAIA national championships. Joseph was unable to be ranked, as he was not on the official roster due to weight certification training.
“Joseph has the ability to be a national champion,” said Reese. “Adam has a punishing, physical style. He breaks his opponents mentally and grinds them down into quitting. I love the way his wrestles. He should have an outstanding season.”
The Bulldogs will host an intra-squad dual meet on October 26 in the Walz Human Performance complex at 7 pm to determine the traveling team for the team’s first tournament of the year at Baker College on November 6. Admission to the event is free.