SEWARD, Neb. – In a dual that lasted just 45 minutes, the 14th-ranked Concordia wrestling team dominated Dakota Wesleyan, 52-4, in front of a strong Walz Arena crowd buoyed by the Seward community on Wednesday evening. On a night when his former assistant wrestling coach at Seward High School was honored, sophomore Austin Fehlhafer ignited the loudest ovation when he ended the night’s final contested match with a pin.
In a pre-match ceremony, the Bulldog wrestling program paid tribute to Jeramie Schoepf, who died tragically last March at the age of 36. Schoepf had an immensely positive impact upon Fehlhafer and many others in the Seward community. Family members of Schoepf were in attendance.
Fehlhafer honored his former coach by turning a 4-2 third-period deficit into a fall that nearly brought the house down.
“It was a lot of fun getting to relive some of the moments,” Fehlhafer said. “It was pretty emotional for me. Going to college wrestling was a big decision that he pushed me towards. He told me he believed in me and that I could do it. I owe a lot of it to him.”
The win means that Fehlhafer and company remain unbeaten in GPAC duals (5-0), pulling even with Briar Cliff on top of the league standings. Concordia has just two conference duals remaining in its bid for the program’s first GPAC dual title.
“You hear talk about (winning the GPAC),” Vote said. “We have high goals. Winning the GPAC would be nice, but as a team I think we want more than that. But that’s something we want to achieve along the way.”
The Bulldogs got out to a 28-0 lead before the visiting Tigers (0-5 GPAC) finally got on the board. Sophomore Dmitri Smith (9-11) got the night started at 125 pounds with a second-period pin of Will Seydel. Reigning GPAC wrestler of the week Kodie Cole (133) then picked up a 10-1 major decision before three-consecutive Dakota Wesleyan open weights provided an insurmountable advantage.
Fehlhafer (7-7) put a capper on the evening in his first career bout at 184 pounds. Ranked 14th nationally at 174, the Seward native wiped out Isaac Rangel in 5:44 for his second-consecutive pin. That effort came on the heels of Tommy Bailey’s first-period fall over Alex Osborne at 174.
Vote felt his team’s showing was appropriate on the special evening.
“It was great for Austin. It was great for the community,” Vote said. “It was nice to see all the people here to honor such a good guy who had such a strong passion for the community of wrestling. He was part of what built this community to where it’s at in wrestling. It was good to see him honored tonight.”
The Bulldogs will host Briar Cliff on Tuesday (Feb. 3) in a battle between two squads with identical 5-0 GPAC dual marks. The action is set to get started at 7 p.m. from Walz Arena. In last year’s meeting in Sioux City, Iowa, Concordia topped the Chargers, 31-14, by winning six of 10 bouts. Emilio Rivera (133) and Enrique Barajas (149) both recorded pins.
Vote says the team’s preparation will not change for what will be the team’s most significant GPAC dual to date.
“Our preparation will be the same as it has all year,” Vote said. “All always tell our guys, ‘we prepare for everybody the same way.’ It’s not about the end result. It’s about preparation.”