SEWARD, Neb. – The nine squads that make up GPAC wrestling will convene this Friday and Saturday inside the Hindman-Hobbs Center in Sioux City, Iowa, on the Morningside campus for the 2020 GPAC Wrestling Championships. This marks the fifth year of the current format in which the conference has held a postseason tournament that is GPAC exclusive. Action on Friday is set to begin at 5 p.m. CT. Following that evening’s happenings, wrestling will pick back up at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Second-year head coach Levi Calhoun hopes his squad can carry over the success it enjoyed during GPAC duals. The 19th-ranked Concordia University wrestling team went 8-0 in conference duals while winning the outright GPAC title.
In the first four years of the current GPAC tournament format, the Bulldogs have placed first (2016), first (2017), fourth (2018) and fourth (2019). The Bulldogs also won a 14-team qualifying group tournament in 2015. The three recent postseason championships have been paired with GPAC dual championships in five of the past six years (2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020). Over that six-year stretch, Concordia has gone a combined 41-4 in conference duals.
At the 2019 GPAC championships, Deandre Chery (174), Walker Fisher (174) and Michael Stann (285) all reached title matches in their respective weight classes. Chery is the two-time defending GPAC champion at 174. A conference title comes with the reward of an automatic bid to nationals. Current Bulldogs who have qualified for nationals in the past include Chery (174), Alberto Garcia (133), Chris Kimball (141), Zack Moistner (133) and Stann (285). Garcia placed fourth in the 133-pound bracket at the 2019 national championships and earned All-America honors.
Each team is allowed to enter 12 wrestlers into the conference championships. The Bulldog roster can be viewed below. Half of the entries also competed at the 2019 GPAC tournament. The dozen Concordia conference wrestlers (nine seniors) have combined this season for 170 victories. Former Nebraska Cornhusker offensive lineman Tanner Farmer carries a perfect 18-0 mark into the postseason. Calhoun’s GPAC roster doubles up at 285 (with Demitrius Miller also competing) and at 174 and 184. The Bulldogs will not have a wrestler at 197.
New conference ratings were released on Tuesday. With 181 points, Concordia ranks just ahead of Briar Cliff (173) for the top spot in the GPAC. Eleven Bulldogs appear inside the top five of the conference within their weight classes. Four of them rank No. 1: Mario Ybarra (125), Alberto Garcia (133), Darrin Miller (184) and Tanner Farmer (285). Garcia wrestled his first matches of the season this past weekend at the Rocky Mountain Open and placed second.
For those who qualify, the 2019-20 season will continue at the NAIA Wrestling National Championships to be staged at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kan., March 6-7. Official national qualifiers are scheduled to be announced by the NAIA on Feb. 25.
How NAIA national tournament qualification works
The NAIA rewards both automatic and at-large bids to the national championship tournament. For a detailed overview of how the bid process works, see pages 7-8 of the NAIA men’s wrestling coaches manual HERE.
2020 Concordia GPAC Wrestling Roster
125 – Mario Ybarra (18-7) | GPAC rank: 1
133 – Alberto Garcia (3-1) | GPAC rank: 1
141 – Chris Kimball (14-7) | GPAC rank: 2
149 – Cam Devers (15-6) | GPAC rank: 3
157 – Gabe Crawford (14-11) | GPAC rank: 4
165 – Issiah Burks (17-18) | GPAC rank: 5
174 – Deandre Chery (15-7) | GPAC rank: 3
174 – Blake Castillo (17-15) | GPAC rank: 6
184 – Darrin Miller (14-5) | GPAC rank: 1
184 – Jason Watkins (13-14) | GPAC rank: 3
285 – Demitrius Miller (12-12)
285 – Tanner Farmer (18-0) | GPAC rank: 1
Official GPAC team rankings
1. Concordia – 181
2. Briar Cliff – 173
3. Morningside – 121
4. Northwestern – 92
5. Hastings – 87
6. Jamestown – 84
7. Doane – 61
8. Dakota Wesleyan – 41
9. Midland – 10
GPAC regular season: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020
NAIA North/GPAC postseason: 2015, 2016, 2017