No. 8 Concordia takes eight matches in 33-6 rout at Briar Cliff

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 26, 2016 in Wrestling

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The run of GPAC dominance continues for the eighth-ranked Concordia University wrestling team. On Tuesday night the Bulldogs outgunned host Briar Cliff (3-6, 2-3 GPAC) in eight of 10 bouts and rolled to a 33-6 win, their 12th-straight in conference duals. Fourth-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad moved to 10-4 overall and 5-0 in the GPAC.

It’s been 711 days since Concordia last suffered a loss to a GPAC opponent. During the streak the Bulldogs have outscored opponents by a combined total of 411-106 while winning 91 of 120 of the individual matches. Tuesday was just the latest in a long line of impressive victories.

“I thought we wrestled well. It was a grind having three weigh-ins in six days but the guys wrestled well,” Vote said. “Overall it was a great team performance. I think we’re starting to come together at the end of the year. Guys wrestled hard for seven minutes. I think we easily could have won all 10 matches. It was a good win for us.”

Ranked as the NAIA’s top 141-pounder, Andrew Schulte proved human in allowing two reversal points that tied the bout at 2-2 in the second period. The 2015 All-American pulled through with a late third-period takedown, providing enough breathing room for Schulte (29-6) to win his 15th-consecutive match. He held off 13th-ranked Sonny Gulesian by a 6-2 decision. Schulte now owns five wins over grapplers currently ranked nationally by the NAIA in the 141-pound class.

The Bulldogs got their biggest team points from the likes of juniors Foster Bunce (149) and Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197), who were responsible for the two pins on the night. Burkhardt Jr. wiped out Jordan Watkins in 3:30 to push his team-leading fall count to 10. Meanwhile, Bunce won for the third-straight time in GPAC dual action thanks to his victory over Jacob Caskey, the second-ranked 149-pound competitor in the North region.

Named GPAC wrestler of the week on Tuesday, Jr Lule (27-7) still has yet to face a serious challenge from a conference foe. He took a 9-0 major decision over Leland Slawson. Lule, a native of Blythe, Calif., has three wins by technical fall and two via major decision in Concordia’s five GPAC duals. Lule is on a roll of his own having won five-straight matches and nine of his last 10.

Dmitri Smith (15-15) got Concordia off to a solid start by taking down his 125-pound counterpart Isiah Lysius five times during a 12-5 victory. Other Bulldog victories by decision went to Travian Cooke, 7-2, at 174 pounds and Ceron Francisco, 6-4, at 285 pounds. Francisco is also 5-0 in GPAC duals after edging the Chargers’ 14th-ranked Dalton Presley.

Junior Tommy Bailey, ranked 14th in his respective weight class, led 8-2 at end of first period in what turned into a dismantling of Alex Melton at 165. Ultimately, Bailey (24-18) notched his fifth victory of the season by technical fall, winning 20-5.

It’s been nearly two full years since Concordia dropped a GPAC match. They’ve done so by focusing on improvement.

“We honestly haven’t talked about it,” Vote said of the streak. “We continue to talk about preparation, the process and putting it together at the end of the year.”

The Bulldogs will be back at home next Wednesday (Feb. 3) to host Bethany College (1-7) in a dual slated to begin at 6 p.m. CT.  Vote’s program will use the night to honor former 11-year Seward High School assistant wrestling coach Jeramie Schoepf, who died tragically in March of 2014. Jeramie’s brother Josh will join the Concordia coaching staff as an honorary coach for the dual.