Garcia dominates, Bulldogs earn 11 top-four placements at York Open

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 30, 2021 in Wrestling

YORK, Neb. – The 2021-22 season is off to a strong start after 11 Bulldogs earned top-four place finishes in their respective brackets at the York College Open. Most significantly, Conner Burrus and Mason Garcia represented Concordia University Wrestling with individual tournament championships. The season’s first tournament took place inside the Freeman Center in York, Neb., on Saturday (Oct. 30) and featured Avila University (Mo.), Bryant & Stratton College (Wis.), Hannibal LaGrange University (Mo.), Hastings, Wayland Baptist University (Texas) and host York College.

The event marked the head coaching debut of Myron Bradbury, who took over the reins from Levi Calhoun. Bradbury saw many positives while identifying areas for potential growth.

“For the first tournament of the year it went about as expected,” Bradbury said. “We have guys who are close to figuring things out. My biggest takeaway is that most of our guys have the key ingredients but just don’t know exactly what order to put them in yet. We have plenty of work ahead, but I’m really excited about what’s to come. The work we’re putting in is paying off.”

When the dust settled, the 14 Bulldogs who competed on Saturday combined for 39 wins, including 23 that came via fall. No one was more dominant than Garcia at 197 pounds. The native of Arroyo Grande, Calif., pinned each of his five opponents (four in the first period) on his way to a York Open championship. He defeated opponents from four different institutions. Garcia’s five pins in a single day nearly matched his season total of seven from 2020-21 when he went 18-12 overall.

The career of Burrus appears promising after the freshman celebrated winning the 141-pound B bracket on Saturday. The native of Hubbard, Ohio, went 5-0 with a pin. In his final match of the day, Burrus defeated Andy Rojas of Hastings by decision, 5-2. In addition, Thomas Ivey (125 A) and Anthony Perez (157 B) placed second in their brackets.

Said Bradbury, “Mason had a great day and worked really hard. He’s very coachable. He made some nice adjustments in his matches. How do you get better than five pins?

“Conner Burrus – what a freshman. I think he’s going to lead the way for our freshmen as far as how to compete. His matches were hard-fought. He beat a fifth-year senior after giving up the first takedown. I’m really pleased with everyone.”

Ivey had the opportunity to wrestle in his hometown of York. He’s another freshman Bradbury sees great potential in. Ivey went 4-1 with two pins on his day. Perez also collected four wins. Five Bulldogs recorded exactly three victories: Josh Broyles (3-2 at 141), Tavoris Smith (3-2 at 157), Jose Sanchez (3-2 with three pins at 165), Mozes Valenzuela Smith (3-2 with three pins at 285) and Jack Hedke (3-2 with three pins at 285). Thirteen of the 14 Concordia grapplers in the tournament notched at least one win.

The following Bulldogs placed fourth or better in their brackets:

·        Thomas Ivey (125A) – 2nd

·        Adam Roberts (125B) – 4th

·        Josh Broyles (141A) – 3rd

·        Conner Burrus (141B) – 1st

·        Tracy Allen (149A) – 4th

·        Tavoris Smith (157A) – 3rd

·        Anthony Perez (157B) – 2nd

·        Jose Sanchez (165) – 3rd

·        Hunter Weimer (184) – 4th

·        Mason Garcia (197) – 1st

·        Jack Hedke (285A) – 4th

The brackets were separated into A and B groups at weights that had a large number of entries. The ‘A’ brackets were not necessarily designed to be stronger than the ‘B’ brackets. The Bulldogs held back their two returning national qualifiers, Jacob Telles (285) and Mario Ybarra (133). In the NAIA preseason national rankings, Ybarra landed at No. 8 at 133 while Telles was rated the 19th best heavyweight.

The season will continue at next Sunday (Nov. 7)’s Dan Harris Open hosted by Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan. The action is slated to begin at 9 a.m. CT. Concordia will be at home for the first time when Hastings visits Friedrich Arena for a GPAC dual on Nov. 11.