Nationals preview: five Bulldogs begin action Friday in Des Moines

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 26, 2019 in Wrestling

SEWARD, Neb. – The field of 240 national qualifiers will descend upon Des Moines, Iowa, this Friday and Saturday for the 2019 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. The 62nd annual event will be held inside the Jacobson Exhibition Center and include five representatives from the Concordia University wrestling program. Session I is slated to get started at 10 a.m. CST on Friday. Preliminary brackets can be viewed HERE.

First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s qualifying group includes Deandre Chery, who will make his second appearance in a row on the national stage. Meanwhile, four Bulldogs will get their first taste of the NAIA national championships: Walker Fisher (174), Alberto Garcia (133), Zack Moistner (133) and Michael Stann (285). In his first experience at nationals last season, Chery notched an upset of Missouri Valley’s fifth-ranked Cody Carson before being eliminated with back-to-back defeats.

Chery and company will attempt to add their names to the program’s list of nine individuals all-time to claim All-America honors (see list at bottom). Those nine Bulldogs combined for 14 total All-America honors. Ken Burkhardt Jr. (2015, 2016, 2017) is the only three-time All-American in program history. From a team perspective, Concordia has placed 22nd or better at the national championships in each of the previous five seasons. An eighth place NAIA finish in 2016 stands as the best in school history.

The five national qualifiers this season is a bump up from the three the Bulldogs took to the national event in 2018. The school record for national qualifiers is 10, a figure achieved by both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 squads led by head coach Dana Vote. The 2014-15 team also owns the program record for most All-Americans in one year with four. Concordia has had at least one All-American in five-straight seasons.

The brackets are subject to change and are not considered official until ratified by the NAIA-Wrestling Coaches’ Association Bracketing Committee. Official brackets are planned for release on Thursday. For additional information on the NAIA Wrestling National Championships, click HERE.

2019 Concordia National Qualifiers

Deandre Chery, Jr. | 174 | Miami Gardens, Fla.
*Second nationals appearance
2018-19 Record: 34-9 (17 pins)
NAIA National Seed: 9th
First match: First-round bye; will face (8) Jonathan Stewart (Williams Baptist)/Kody Davis (Embry-Riddle) in the second round.

Walker Fisher, Sr. | 174 | Ashland, Neb.
*First nationals appearance
2018-19 Record: 13-7 (4 pins)
NAIA National Seed: Unseeded
First match: vs. Sterling Griffin (Midway)

Alberto Garcia, Sr. | 133 | Escondido, Calif.
*First nationals appearance
2018-19 Record: 15-3 (3 pins)
NAIA National Seed: 12th
First match: First-round bye; will face (5) Zachary Durbin (Missouri Valley)/Isiah Lysius (Briar Cliff) in the second round.

Zack Moistner, Jr. | 133 | Fallbrook, Calif.
*First nationals appearance
2018-19 Record: 14-15
NAIA National Seed: Unseeded
First match: vs. Anthony Vargas (Life Pacific)

Michael Stann, Fr. | 285 | Temecula, Calif.
*First nationals appearance
2018-19 Record: 36-13 (16 pins)
NAIA National Seed: Unseeded
First match: First-round bye; will face (1) Brandon Reed (Lindsey Wilson)/Brix Bickley (Bethany) in the second round.

Concordia All-Time All-Americans

Ken Burkhardt Jr. (2015, 2016, 2017)
Giovanni Castillo (2018)
Kodie Cole (2015, 2016)
Ceron Francisco (2015, 2017)
Adam Joseph (2012)
Austin Mogg (2014)
Andrew Schulte (2015, *2016)
Julian Silva (2012)
Jacob Williams (2012)
*NAIA National Champion