HASTINGS, Neb. – Four individuals turned in place finishes for the 14th-ranked Concordia University wrestling team, which took part in Saturday’s Hastings College Open that awarded the top four wrestlers in each weight bracket. The tournament marked the debuts of transfers Jr Lule and Andrew Schulte and saw 15 Bulldog grapplers combine on a record of 34-26.
Lule, ranked 15th nationally, captured a runner-up claim at 149, while No. 6 Schulte (141) and No. 12 Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) both picked up third-place finishes in their respective weight classes. In the heavyweight bracket, junior DJ McIntyre took fourth place.
“We wrestled tough. We just hit a hard training cycle so we were probably more beat up than normal after the Christmas break,” head coach Dana Vote said. “We needed to go through that to get ready for the rest of our season.”
Lule, who arrived at Concordia via Palomar College in California, rolled to the 149-pound title match by winning his first four matches in his first appearance in the Bulldog singlet. The native of Blythe, Calif., began the new chapter in his career with a pin of Bacon College’s Abel Villamoreno. Lule then won two by decision and another by major decision before an 11-3 loss to Skyler Lykins of Colorado School of Mines in the championship bout.
Schulte, who previously competed at Santa Ana College, experienced similar success in the 141-pound bracket. The sophomore from Carona, Calif., won by technical fall in his first career Concordia match, then shook off a 6-5 loss to the University of Nebraska-Kearney’s Andrew Riedy and marched to the third-place tussle. That’s where Schulte won in sudden victory, 6-4, over Grand View University’s Walker Marshall. Schulte tied McIntyre with a team best five wins at Hastings.
“They did a great job,” Vote said of Lule and Schulte. “They both found ways to win. You can see how both are definitely going to make an impact for us. They give us leadership and toughness.”
Now 19-12 overall this season, Burkhardt Jr. won four of his five bouts on Saturday. The Milford, Neb., native avenged a loss at the UNK open by defeating Colorado School of Mines’ Paul Wilson, 4-3, in the third-place match at 197. Burkhardt Jr.’s only loss came at the hands of Benedictine College’s top-ranked Stephen Loosbrock by a 3-0 decision.
Concordia picked up a combined eight wins in the heavyweight bracket from the duo of McIntyre and sophomore Ceron Francisco. McIntyre went 5-2 on the day with a pin of Dickinson State’s Meyer Bohn. The junior from Marrero, La., won five-consecutive matches in between defeats to start and finish his day. Meanwhile, Francisco (20-10) blazed to the semifinals with three-consecutive wins that pushed his season victory count to 20.
Twelve of Concordia’s 15 competitors at Hastings registered at least one win. In addition to solid days for the aforementioned Bulldogs, junior Robert Mata doubled his season win total by going 4-2 at Hastings. He was one of eight Concordia wrestlers with two or more wins at the tournament.
The Hastings Open included wrestlers from 28 different institutions. All GPAC schools with the exceptions of Briar Cliff and Morningside took part.
The GPAC-leading Bulldogs (3-0 GPAC) return to tournament action next week when they take part in the Missouri Valley Invite in Marshall, Mo., next Friday and Saturday (Jan. 16-17).