New wrestling room sees first action

By on Oct. 2, 2012 in Wrestling

New wrestling room sees first action

By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director

To watch video from Monday's practice, visit the Concordia Bulldogs' YouTube channel at

Monday marked the first day of a new era in Bulldog wrestling for a number of reasons. First-year head coach Dana Vote began his implementation of a rigorous, high-energy practice philosophy inside the confines of a shiny, new facility. Located within the renovated PE Building, the freshly-minted wrestling room housed its first official practice on Monday.

“This facility is huge for our program,” Vote said following practice. “It’s a step in the right direction in going towards that national title that we always want to get. This is definitely the first step. It shows the commitment that the school has in the program. The guys are loving it. We’ve got a place to train and things are going well.”

The addition of the wrestling room was part of the PE Building renovation project that began this past summer. The overhaul also saw the installation of an equipment room, athletic training room, weight room, athletics staff offices and more classrooms.

With the wrestling room now complete, Concordia boasts one of the finest wrestling practice facilities in the NAIA.

“I haven’t seen a nicer facility personally,” senior wrestler Brandon Starkey said. “It’s a 1,000 times better than what we had last year. It was just a gym. It’s nice having our own place every day.”

Fellow senior Jordan Fowlkes echoed Starkey’s comments and added that the facility upgrades will give the Bulldogs a competitive advantage.

“It’s great. It gives us a lot of opportunity to do more things than we could before,” Fowlkes said. “I feel more like a team now that we’re in our own spot, in a more enclosed area. I think it’s going to give us a good edge on our opponents this year, being able to be closer together.”

The Bulldogs went all out on day one of practice in the area that was formerly home to a swimming pool. Practice featured prolonged periods of intense grappling and conditioning, part of Vote’s plan to build champions on and off the mat. Vote, most recently the top assistant at NCAA Division III Buena Vista University, continuously preaches the “championship lifestyle.”

“We stress on a daily basis just doing the right things, living that championship lifestyle,” Vote said. “That means doing the right things on the mat. Doing the right things in the classroom. Doing the right things in your social life and just making sure every day you are doing what you are supposed to do to get better and working towards that championship.”

In order to become champions, Vote believes that his team must be in better condition than the opposition. Starkey, an NAIA National Championships qualifier at 149 pounds last season, has noticed considerable change already, even with just one practice in the books.

“I’m tired every day,” Starkey said of the team’s preseason workouts. “He pushes us to the limit every day and if we’re not pushing as hard as we can, he knows it.”

Vote took to the mat himself, going head-to-head with Fowlkes for a good portion of Monday’s practice. Vote, a Gilmore City, Iowa, native, lettered twice as a wrestler at Buena Vista during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.

Despite a roster that contains only 15 names, Fowlkes and company are striving for success on a national stage.

“I believe we can become a top-10 team,” Fowlkes said. “I know we have low numbers, but we’ve got some good depth. I think we can put ourselves near the top and be recognized as being one of the best in the nation.”

Vote believes Monday’s first practice inside the sparkling new wrestling room was simply the start of something big.

“These guys have heart here. We’re fighting,” Vote said. “They know where we want to go and where the coaches want to go with the program and they’re buying in and they’re doing the right things. They haven’t had the success that they need to have yet, but we’re heading in that direction.”