MARSHALL, Mo. – In the premier regular-season tournament at the NAIA level, Tanner Farmer provided further proof that he poses a legitimate threat when it comes to the heavyweight national title. Farmer won a second-straight tournament championship while leading the 20th-ranked Concordia University wrestling team to a 16th-place finish out of 48 NAIA squads at the Missouri Valley Invite. The Burns Athletic Complex in Marshall, Mo., served as the venue for the weekend (Jan. 17-18) event.
Nine Bulldogs made the trip to Missouri. Head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad is still working on getting some of its top performers back on the mat. With the addition of Farmer this semester, Concordia’s potential for success has multiplied.
“We’re not completely satisfied with the results, but we’re satisfied with the effort and the willingness to go up against the best in the country,” Calhoun said. “Two-day tournaments can be tough with the two-day weigh-ins so it was nice to see Tanner, Zack (Moistner) and Bryan (McGahan) make it to the second day. I’m excited to have our full lineup again. I wish we could have had everyone here this weekend, but that’s the way it goes. We feel like we can put together a really good showing on the national stage once we’re at full strength.”
Fresh off a tournament title at the Hastings Cusatis Open and a GPAC Wrestler of the Week award, Farmer made his way through an impressive field at Missouri Valley. In Friday’s action, Farmer pinned each of his first three opponents, including 18th-ranked Dalton Sikes of Ottawa University (Kan.). Ranked 13th nationally, Farmer then went on to defeat No. 3 Gage Johnson of Oklahoma City University and No. 6 Justin Harbison of the University of Providence (Mont.), both by decision. Graceland University (Iowa)’s second-ranked Shawn Beeson then forfeited the title match to Farmer, who racked up 29 team points.
The former standout Nebraska Cornhusker offensive lineman is off to an 11-0 record in his collegiate wrestling career. Farmer will undoubtedly shoot up even higher in the national rankings when fresh ones are released.
“Obviously he’s made a splash and has established himself on the national scene,” Calhoun said of Farmer. “He’s no longer a secret. They will be gunning for him now. He can be one of the top heavyweights in the country, but he knows he still has work to do to reach his goals. I’m excited to get him back on the mat and for him to continue to improve.”
Farmer and his teammates combined for a total of 15 victories. Fellow heavyweight Demitrius Miller also made some waves by pinning both Saul Rodriguez of Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) and Jacob Sabus of Central Christian College (Kan.). Miller finished at 2-2 for the tournament. Senior 133-pounder Zack Moistner strung together a solid tournament that featured three victories, including a pin of Bethany College (Kan.)’s Kaden Goff.
Four Bulldogs recorded exactly one win this weekend: Issiah Burks (165), Blake Castillo (174), Bryan McGahan (197) and Jason Watkins (197). Burks, McGahan and Watkins each notched a pin. Cameron Devers (149) and Giancarlo Facio (125) also competed at Missouri Valley.
A pivotal day of conference action is coming up next Saturday (Jan. 25) when the Bulldogs (6-2, 3-0 GPAC) will dual Hastings, Jamestown, Briar Cliff and Doane, in that order. The event will get started at 9 a.m. CT and will take place inside Fuhrer Fieldhouse on the Doane campus. Under Calhoun, Concordia is 10-1 in GPAC duals.