Concordia wrestling leaves Desert Duals with two more wins

By on Dec. 21, 2013 in Wrestling

Concordia wrestling leaves Desert Duals with two more victories

LAS VEGAS – Six mats spread out in the spacious ballroom of the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino set the stage for the 2013 Desert Duals along the Vegas strip on Saturday. Up against plenty of nationally-ranked competition, Concordia University wrestling went 2-2 in its quadruple header of duals out west. On the season, second-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad is now 3-3.

“It was good for us. We got to see nationally-ranked guys from other parts of the country,” Vote said. “We got an idea of where we’re at. We saw some good things and we also had some disappointments. The biggest thing we learned is that we are not far away.”

Milford High School native Ken Burkhardt Jr. (8-8) shined brightest among Bulldog individuals with a 3-1 record on Saturday. The 197-pounder dominated 14th-ranked Ian Mac Ineirghe of Menlo College (Calif.) on the way to an 18-7 major decision. Burkhardt Jr. also notched a major decision over Embry-Riddle’s (Ariz.) Troy Kilgore and a 4-3 decision over Chris Harlin of Pacific University (Ore.).

“He’s getting better. Every time out he’s improving,” Vote said of Burkhardt Jr. “He’s 100 times better than he was at the beginning of November.”

Concordia started out strong by claiming a 26-16 victory over No. 23 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.) in its first dual of the day. The Bulldogs cracked open a 16-3 advantage highlighted by freshman Tommy Bailey’s (157) pin of Matthew Coultas in 2:28. After the Eagles came back to tie at 16-all, Concordia closed out the victory thanks to Burkhardt’s (197) 14-5 major decision and a forfeit win at heavyweight.

In match No. 3, the Bulldogs won by an identical 26-16 tally over Pacific. Freshman Austin Fehlhafer (16-7) nailed down his team-leading 12th pin of the season by finishing off Jacob Richards in 1:34, giving the 174-pounder from Seward his fourth fastest fall. Burkhardt Jr. got the big win at 197 and another forfeit at heavyweight provided the 10-point margin.

In its second match of the day, Concordia fell 30-7 to No. 14 Menlo College (Calif.). However, the team score did not reflect the competitiveness of the individual matches. The Bulldogs dropped five decisions by four points or less, including the dual’s first four bouts. Sophomore Austin Starkey (157) and Burkhardt Jr. (197) claimed the team’s only victories.

The highlight of the Bulldogs’ 33-9 loss to No. 5 University of Great Falls (Mont.), in the final match of the day, came at 285 where freshman Ceron Francisco (9-8) upset fourth-ranked David Lopez. Francisco dropped Lopez to his back with a thunderous thud to get the pin after only 1:53 had elapsed. That fall concluded the day in Sin City.

Burkhardt Jr. and Francisco were not the only ones to record a win over a ranked foe. Concordia’s ninth-rated Enrique Barajas (149) held serve over No. 14 Colin Merkely of Embry-Riddle as part of the Bulldog victory over the Eagles.

A total of 15 Bulldogs made the trip to Vegas. Each of them had the opportunity to wrestle in at least one match in the Flamingo Hotel. Concordia grapplers combined for a record of 16-24 with three pins on the day.

“We had a good day,” Vote said. “We wrestled well for the most part – we’re just young and inconsistent. We’ve got a lot of potential. We have to regroup and attack and get more physical.”

After arriving in Vegas on Thursday afternoon, it was all about business. Vote said that some members of the team visited the Hoover Dam, but most of the trip was spent focusing on wrestling. The majority of the team will fly out of Vegas early Sunday morning while others will depart from Vegas with their families for the Christmas break.

The Bulldogs have plenty of duals remaining as conference action gets going after the holidays. Next up for Concordia is a match at Briar Cliff on Wednesday, Jan. 8 in what will be the first of seven GPAC duals. Vote’s Bulldogs also have two open tournaments remaining on the 2013-14 schedule.