Dual at Doane awaits No. 9 Concordia

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 2, 2016 in Wrestling

SEWARD, Neb. – It’s been more than 1,000 days since the Concordia University wrestling program has tasted defeat in a conference dual. The Bulldogs will again put their streak on the line on Friday when they grapple with Doane. The dual is set for 7 p.m. CT inside the Fuhrer Field House in Crete.

Doane will provide a live stream of the dual. It can be accessed HERE

First-year head coach Andrew Nicola inherited a squad favored to capture the GPAC crown for a third-straight year. The Bulldogs were dominant in their only conference dual so far this season. Concordia earned bonus points at nine of 10 weights as part of a 51-0 blanking of Dakota Wesleyan on Nov. 11. The victory marked the Bulldogs’ 15th in a row over GPAC opponents. Concordia went 7-0 in conference dual action in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.

In terms of national rankings, this year’s squad is headlined by the likes of returning All-Americans in second-ranked Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197), fourth-ranked Ceron Francisco (285) and 10th-ranked Kodie Cole (133). Due to injury, Francisco will not compete in Crete. The heavyweight from Fayetteville, N.C., is off to a 9-0 start with two tournament titles. He’s expected to return in time for the National Duals (Jan. 5-6). Meanwhile, Burkhardt Jr. is in hot pursuit of becoming the first wrestler in program history to reach 100 career wins. He enters the weekend with an overall record of 96-53.

In place of Francisco will be DJ McIntyre at the heavyweight spot. McIntyre qualified for the national championships in 2015 before sitting out last season. Friday’s expected lineup also features 12th-ranked Foster Bunce (149) and Dmitri Smith (125), two of the program’s 10 national qualifiers last season.

Matt Hansen’s Tigers were tagged with a 29-24 home loss to Midland on Nov. 22. Doane made a splash at the 2016 NAIA National Championships by finishing sixth behind 197-pound national champion Cody Linton. Both Linton and fellow All-American Kevin Corbett exhausted their eligibility. The lone returning 2016 All-American is 197-pounder Chandler Knight, who is not in Friday’s probable lineup. Two nationally-ranked grapplers are expected to go up against the Bulldogs: No. 10 Martin Phillips (157) and No. 14 Kyle Hoffman (184).

Doane returned to the wrestling landscape in 2013-14. Since then, Concordia has won all three meetings with the Tigers.

Concordia vs. Doane series
1/21/16 – W, 24-15
11/18/14 – W, 35-12
1/14/14 – W, 39-6 

Following Friday’s dual, the Bulldogs will shift focus to Saturday’s Buena Vista University Open in Storm Lake, Iowa. Action is set to get underway at 9 a.m. CT. Concordia will make its home debut on Friday, Dec. 9 when Northwest Kansas Tech makes a visit to Walz Arena.

Projected lineups

Concordia: 1-0, 1-0 GPAC
125 – Dmitri Smith (4-4)
133 – No. 10 Kodie Cole (6-3)
141 – Cooper Bailey (0-0)
149 – No. 12 Foster Bunce (5-1)
157 – Jon Lado (2-2)
165 – No. 15 Kirk Kaliszewski (4-4)
174 – Walker Fisher (5-4)
184 – Josh Nelsen (3-6)
197 – No. 2 Ken Burkhardt, Jr. (10-5)
285 – DJ McIntyre (3-4) 

Doane: 0-2, 0-1 GPAC
125 – Jackson Bates (1-4)
133 – John Fletcher (1-6)
141 – Preston Jurgens (6-4)
149 – Josue Solis (7-4)
157 – No. 10 Martin Phillips (1-0)
165 – JohnMark Reddick (5-5)
174 – Zach Linton (1-0)
184 – No. 14 Kyle Hoffman (4-4)
197 – Craig Hudiburgh (3-3)
285 – Jake Smith (1-4)