SEWARD, Neb. – In a matchup of two of the top four wrestling squads in the NAIA North region, No. 13 Morningside prevailed 34-6 over No. 25 Concordia inside Walz Arena on Thursday night. The visiting Mustangs (5-6, 1-0 GPAC) used two pins and several close triumphs by decision to spoil the Bulldogs’ final home dual of the 2013-14 season.
Second-year head coach Dana Vote’s team fell to 6-6 overall and 2-1 in GPAC duals.
The 28-point spread in the team scoring failed to convey the competitive nature of Thursday’s dual. Six matches were decided by four points or less with the Mustangs coming out on top in four of those bouts. Two nights after pulverizing Doane to the tune of 21 takedowns and three pins, the Bulldogs were rarely on the offensive against the top-ranked team in the North.
“I think our youth keeps showing. We have these close matches and we’ve just got to find a way to win,” Vote said. “We have to go out and finish matches, attack and not wait for guys to come at us. We sat back too much tonight. We weren’t attacking.”
Before Morningside ran off five-straight wins, freshman Dmitri Smith put the Bulldogs in front with a 5-3 sudden victory at 125. Smith, 8-8 overall, got a match-clinching takedown towards the end of the sudden victory period to improve to 4-1 against GPAC opponents.
“Coach Vote teaches us to keep wrestling no matter what and that’s what I did,” Smith said.
Concordia’s other win on the night came at 174 where freshman Austin Fehlhafer (20-8) notched his 20th victory already this season. He just missed out on his 16th pin with a near fall in the second period, during which he had Trew Bushhousen on the ropes. Fehlhafer appeared to tire in the third period when he was taken down once, but he held on for a 5-2 decision that included exactly one minute of riding time.
Narrow setbacks were suffered at 133, 149, 157 and 197. Concordia’s 16th-ranked Kodie Cole (133, 10-10) lost 1-0 to No. 12 Nathan Ryan and No. 10 Enrique Barajas (149, 12-10) fell 4-3 to No. 12 Tyler Lashbrook. Meanwhile, Milford native Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197, 11-11) dropped an overtime tilt with No. 14 Jared McCoy.
The Mustangs’ Thursday lineup, devised by head coach Jake Stevenson, included seven regionally-ranked and five nationally-ranked individuals. Foremost among that group is 174/184-pounder Joe Sievert, who is ranked sixth in the NAIA at 174. Sievert wrestled up at 184 and pinned Concordia senior Nick Sheppard in 2:41.
The Mustangs totaled 14 takedowns (six by Sievert) and three near falls.
An intermission was held following the 157-pound match to honor Bulldog seniors Martin Dobler, Austin Mogg, Nick Sheppard and Alex Stepanek for the final home dual of their careers. Mogg boasts 102 career wins and was a 2010 NCAA Division III All-American.
The Bulldogs are off this weekend and have just one dual next week as they visit No. 10 York College on Wednesday, Jan. 23. The two teams dualed in Seward on Dec. 5 when the Panthers eked out a 20-19 victory. Four more GPAC road duals also remain on the schedule.
“Preparation now is just getting ourselves ready for that regional tournament (Feb. 22),” Vote said. “We want to get as many guys to the national tournament as we can. We just hit a real hard training phase. I think our bodies are a little beat up right now. That real tough phase is over now and we can loosen up the next week and focus on one dual a week from here on out.”