Garcia wins UNK Open in Bulldog debut

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 17, 2018 in Wrestling

KEARNEY, Neb. – It wasn’t exactly a soft landing that greeted Alberto Garcia in his debut tournament as a member of the Concordia University wrestling program. In a field loaded with NCAA Division I and II competitors, the junior from Escondido, Calif., won the 133-pound title in the elite division of Saturday (Nov. 17)’s University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open. Garcia and 14 Bulldogs combined for 23 victories and three place finishes on the day.

Concordia left Kearney, Neb., feeling like there could have been more wins. First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad had to quickly refocus after earning a 21-17 dual victory over 13th-ranked Midland on Thursday.

“We knew it was going to be a tough tournament and it was,” Calhoun said. “We had some guys get punched in the mouth a little bit. Maybe we were off a little too much of a high from the Midland win. This gave the guys more perspective on how much work we need to do. They came away knowing we need to get better. We had some good individual performances, but I feel like we could have done a better job competing and winning more matches. There are still things to fix.”

Garcia, a transfer from Palomar College, showed why he was ranked 10th nationally in his weight class despite having never wrestled at the NAIA level. After Saturday, Garcia still has yet to go head-to-head with an NAIA opponent. On his way to a title at UNK, Garcia defeated two foes from NCAA Division II programs and two from NCAA Division I institutions. He capped a 4-0 day by taking a 13-7 decision from the University of Nebraska’s Jevon Parrish in the 133-pound championship match.

Calhoun and his staff knew Garcia was capable of putting together this type of tournament. He has the potential to place high on the podium come March.

Said Calhoun, “Alberto is a special one. He’s very, very good. It wasn’t a surprise what he did. We expected him to place in the elite division and he went and won it. We knew how good he is. He’s a kid that could be a national champ if he continues to do the right things.”

Concordia’s other place finishers were junior Deandre Chery (fifth) at 174 and freshman Michael Stann (fourth) at 285. Both individuals have locked up place finishes in each of the first three tournaments of this season. Chery went 4-2 on Saturday with a pin and another win via technical fall. Meanwhile, Stann went 5-1 and advanced to the third-place match of the amateur division. He was unable to wrestle in that match due to the rule that limits competitors to six bouts in one day.

Tyler Jorgensen (184), Darrin Miller (184) and Demetrius Miller (285) each went 2-2. Four Bulldogs claimed exactly one win before being eliminated in their respective brackets.

Concordia will be idle until hosting Benedictine College (Kan.) in a nonconference dual on Dec. 7. The Bulldogs own dual wins over Dakota Wesleyan and Midland.