Grapplers place four on medal stand

By on Nov. 10, 2012 in Wrestling

Grapplers place four on medal stand

LINDSBORG, Kan. – First-year head coach Dana Vote took his Bulldog wrestling squad into competition for the first time and came away with four individuals who locked down spots on the medal stand at the Swede Open, hosted by Bethany College (Kan.) on Saturday.

Seventeen teams/clubs were represented at Saturday’s open tournament that included several unattached individuals. Highly-ranked NAIA schools such as No. 4 Baker (Kan.), No. 14 Oklahoma City and No. 19 York took part in the event in which no team scores were kept.

Concordia junior Alex Stepanek led the way with a third-place finish at 133, while seniors Frank Ayala (285) and Brandon Starkey (157) and sophomore Seth Crane (184) each carved out fourth place finishes.

 “Stepanek had a great day coming back after an early loss and getting third. He won matches by being flat out tough,” Vote said. “He just out-toughed guys.”

Stepanek, a native of St. Paul, Neb., pinned Anthony Calderon of Fort Hays State in 4:58 after receiving a bye in the first round. Stepanek then shook off a quarterfinal loss to Oak Hill Wrestling Club’s Tony Livengood to win his final four bouts of the day, including a 10-8 decision over York’s Marcus Banducci in the third-place match.

Starkey, a national qualifier last season and St. Paul, Neb., native, began the 2012 season at 157, straying from his customary 149 weight class in which he figures to return to soon. Despite a size disadvantage against several of his competitors, Starkey claimed victories in three of his five bouts.

“Starkey had a good day winning some big matches wrestling up a weight,” Vote said. “He battled through some tough matches to score a lot of points. He went through some adversity to win them.”

Starkey ultimately fell to Oklahoma City’s Mark Meyer (ranked No. 16 in the NAIA at 157) 7-2 in the third place match to close out his day.

Crane, a sophomore from North Platte, Neb., also went 3-2 on the day to claim fourth place. He pinned Oklahoma City’s Cody Sivertsen in a quarterfinal match prior to dropping a 5-0 decision to Baker’s Parker Owen in the third-place match.

Ayala had a similar day at 285. The West Covina, Calif., native won by pin over Baker’s Chris Tackett in a consolation match and then squeaked by York’s Ray Johnson 11-10 to set himself up against Bacone’s Cesar Ponce in the third-place bout. Ponce came away with a 6-2 triumph.

Chandler Brandert (141), Peter Ovens (157), Martin Dobler (157), Nick Sheppard (165), Kale Hintz (174) and Cameron Bruce (197) also took to the mat on Saturday for Concordia. Hintz recorded a pin and a victory by major decision, while Bruce also posted one pin.

Overall, Vote was pleased with the way his team began the 2012-13 season. He said that the Bulldogs exceeded his expectations for the first time out. However, he pointed out that there is plenty of room for improvement.

“We went through some struggles today,” Vote said. “We’re still making some of the same old mistakes. We have to break some habits. We have to get back to working hard and doing the things it takes to win matches.”

The Bulldogs will return to the mat on Saturday, Nov. 17 when they travel to the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open in Kearney, Neb.