SEWARD, Neb. – While making its first home appearance of the 2021-22 season, Concordia University Wrestling salvaged the night to some degree with a strong finish at the back end of the lineup. It just wasn’t enough to dig out of a large hole in terms of team scoring as visiting Hastings defeated the Bulldogs, 29-17, inside Friedrich Arena on Thursday (Nov. 11). The Broncos won seven of the 10 matches, including four that came with bonus points.
This marked the first home dual experience as head coach for Myron Bradbury, who arrived in Seward following a successful run as the lead assistant coach at NAIA power Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.). He’s only just begun to put his stamp on the Concordia program.
“It’s a good environment. I love the setup,” Bradbury said of the dual atmosphere at Friedrich Arena. “I think we had good fan support and I definitely want to build on it. It’s hard to ask that favor after a night like tonight. We have to get back to work and know this is part of the process. I think my biggest takeaway is – welcome to the big leagues. We have a lot of fresh faces out here that didn’t understand the level of intensity they needed to hit. We’ll work on it.”
There was finally something for the Bulldog faithful to cheer about when Mason Garcia took the mat at 197. Garcia and Concordia heavyweight Jacob Telles (ranked 19th in the NAIA at 285) were utterly dominant in their performances. Garcia moved to 6-0 this season (five pins) by earning a technical fall in the second period. Ten of his 18 points were produced via back points as Hastings’ Trent Nafzinger narrowly avoided the pin.
The reigning heavyweight GPAC champion, Telles got his second collegiate season started on Thursday and emerged with a second period fall of Henry Jones. Telles notched two takedowns prior to wiping out his opponent for the 14th pin of his career. The native of Albuquerque, N.M., serves as one of the team’s four captains.
Garcia’s start has been impressive, but he seems to understand there’s a lot of work left to do. Said Garcia, “I was just hitting my moves. I have a really good training partner with Jacob. After I wrestle with him, I come out here and it’s easy.” Garcia went on to joke that his improvement has come from lifting weights with strength coach Todd Berner.
At 165, captain Issiah Burks had his chances to pull an upset of sixth-ranked Taygen Smith. However, Smith came out on top with the help of a late takedown in the third period and held off Burks, 7-5. Smith was one of three nationally ranked wrestlers in the Bronco lineup. No. 7 Edrich Nortje (141) and No. 14 Thomas Stevenson (157) both collected pins. After it forfeited 125, Hastings went on to win the next seven matches and build a commanding 29-6 lead in the team score.
Without a doubt, Garcia and Telles were the bright spots. Said Bradbury, “They looked great. I was really happy to see Mason having fun. He was taking shots and scoring takedowns. He wasn’t just living on his top game, which is what I think he’s done in the past. I was happy to see him win the way he did.”
Returning All-American Mario Ybarra is still waiting to begin his 2021-22 season. In other words, the Bulldogs are still waiting to get back to full strength. Thursday’s dual lineup also featured Thomas Ivey (125), Isaac Agabin (133), Conner Burrus (141), Brandon Gonzalez (149), Anthony Perez (157), TJ Huber (174) and Hunter Weimer (184).
Select members of the team will be in action at the Dakota Wesleyan Open in Mitchell, S.D., on Saturday. Wrestling is set to begin at 9 a.m. CT. The next conference duals will take place on Dec. 1.