No. 14 Bulldogs make statement, end Morningside's run of 31-straight GPAC dual wins

By on Jan. 22, 2015 in Wrestling

No. 14 Bulldogs make statement, end Morningside’s run of 31-straight GPAC dual wins

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – In the process of remaining unbeaten in GPAC duals, the 14th-ranked Concordia University wrestling team ended host Morningside’s run of dominance in Thursday night’s showdown in Sioux City, Iowa. The Bulldogs turned the tables with a 29-12 victory that snapped the Mustangs’ impressive streak of 31-straight GPAC dual wins that dated back to the 2008-09 season.

Third-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA North Qualifying Group, pulled even with Briar Cliff atop the league standings. Both teams sport identical 4-0 conference marks.

Concordia has a dual with Briar Cliff coming up on Feb. 3, but Thursday’s match signaled the breaking down of a significant barrier on the road to a potentially special 2014-15 season.

“It’s a huge deal for us,” Vote said after the victory. “It’s a huge emotional lift to know that we can do it. We knew we had enough to beat them, but guys look at that winning streak. Once we got rolling we felt like we had them. Everyone wrestled hard tonight.”

In a dual that began with the 165-pound weight class, No. 19 Morningside jumped out to a 3-0 lead via a win by decision. Concordia sophomore Austin Fehlhafer, ranked 14th nationally, responded with a pin in just 45 seconds, igniting a run of seven Bulldogs wins over the final nine matches.

“That was a big win for us momentum-wise,” Vote said. “Austin has dealt with a lot of injuries this season and he’s finally getting halfway healthy. You could see it in his eyes and he went out and dominated. That pumped up our team and we were ready to go.”

Concordia clinched the team win at 141 pounds when junior college transfer Andrew Schulte picked up his 10th victory in his first 12 bouts as a Bulldog. The sixth-ranked Schulte, a second place finisher at last week’s Missouri Valley Invite, dominated Cody Cline, 13-3, for a major decision, putting Concordia on top, 25-9, with two matches remaining.

Sophomore Kodie Cole (6-5) piggybacked on Fehlhafer with a pin of Alex Schmitz at 133 pounds, right before Schulte took the mat. The Bulldogs also got a key win at 125 in an evenly-matched battle between Concordia’s Dmitri Smith and Morningside’s Brent Curtis. Smith (8-11) won, 4-2.

Additional Bulldog wins were delivered by No. 12 Ken Burkhardt Jr. (D, 1-0) at 197, DJ McIntyre (D, 2-0) at heavyweight and No. 7 Enrique Barajas (MD, 14-5) at 157. In his first time out since the Desert Duals on Dec. 20, Barajas had his way with Nate Taylor and improved to 18-8 on the season. Meanwhile, McIntyre has already reached the 20-win mark in his first season as a Bulldog.

The Mustangs, ranked seventh in the North, got half their points from second-ranked Rulin Pederson, who wiped out Noel Richardson in 6:01 at 184 pounds. Morningisde held a 9-6 advantage before Concordia got on a roll.

No doubt, this was a signature victory for Vote’s program.

“We had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” Vote said. “All season long we looked forward to competing with Morningside. We had it marked on our calendar that we wanted to win this dual.

“The biggest thing was that this was a great team effort.”

Morningside has won each of the last three GPAC dual titles with perfect records all three years. In their first conference dual of this season, the Mustangs defeated Hastings, 29-12, on Jan. 16.

The Bulldogs will put their unbeaten GPAC record on the line again when they host Dakota Wesleyan (1-10, 0-4 GPAC) on Wednesday (Jan. 28). The action is set to get started at 7 p.m. from Walz Arena. In last season’s meeting with the Tigers, Concordia came away with a 19-18 victory in Mitchell, S.D.