2016 Outright GPAC title on the line Thursday

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 9, 2016 in Wrestling

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University wrestling team last lost a GPAC dual 726 days ago. The Bulldogs will again put their streak of 13-straight conference dual wins on the line on Thursday in a clash of top GPAC programs inside Walz Arena. Visiting Morningside can spoil the party and claim a share of the league crown by pulling off an upset win over the eighth-ranked Bulldogs.

The action is set to begin at 7 p.m. CT. Aaron Sweazy will fulfill play-by-play duties for the Concordia Sports Network.

Concordia (12-4, 6-0 GPAC) has rolled through its first six conference duals, winning each by a margin of at least nine points. During its active GPAC win streak dating back to February 2014, the Bulldogs have outscored opponents 450-116 and have triumphed in 99 of 130 individual matches. Last week fourth-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad clinched at least a share of the GPAC dual title with a 39-10 rout at Hastings. Individually, No. 1-ranked 141-pounder Andrew Schulte (17-match win streak) and seventh-ranked 157-pounder Jr Lule (seven-match win streak) are red hot.

Fittingly for a team that has been dominant against GPAC opponents, Concordia has won five of the last six conference wrestler of the week awards. Schulte has racked up three and one apiece have gone to heavyweight Ceron Francisco and Lule. Francisco, Lule and Schulte are each a perfect 6-0 in conference dual action.

Morningside (6-3, 5-1 GPAC) ruled the GPAC from 2011 to 14, winning three-straight conference titles while going a combined 19-0 in league duals. The Bulldogs halted the Mustangs’ run of 31-straight GPAC dual wins on Jan. 22, 2015, with a 29-12 victory in Sioux City, Iowa. Morningside, whose only conference loss this season was by a 20-19 score at Northwestern, possesses one nationally-ranked wrestler: No. 8 Steven Garcia at 149. Head coach Jake Stevenson’s group has had narrow wins over Doane (24-22) and Briar Cliff (21-17) in recent weeks.

Thursday’s matchup will mark the final dual of the season for Concordia. The Bulldogs will then begin preparation for the North Qualifying Group Tournament that will be hosted inside Walz Arena on Saturday, Feb. 20. National tournament berths will be on the line when the action begins that day at 9 a.m. CT.

Projected lineups

Concordia (12-4, 6-0 GPAC)
125 – No. 12 Dmitri Smith (17-15)
133 – No. 15  Kodie Cole (10-9)
141 – No. 1 Andrew Schulte (31-6)
149 – No. 15 Foster Bunce (10-7)
157 – No. 7 Jr Lule (29-7)
165 – No. 11 Tommy Bailey (25-18)
174 – Travian Cooke (17-12)
184 – No. 11 Matt Atwood (19-5)
197 – No. 14 Ken Burkhardt Jr. (24-11)
285 – No. 6 Ceron Francisco (24-13) 

Morningside (6-3, 5-1 GPAC)
125 – Devin Phaly (15-14) or Keegan Hessler (14-5)
133 – Kegan Williams (11-11)
141 – Lane Nicholas (10-12)
149 – No. 8 Steven Garcia (19-5) or Kyle Fowler (9-5)
157 – Dakota Drenth (17-10) or Drake Swedlund (6-11)
165 – Derik Bailey (8-14)
174 – Mitch Otto (13-9)
184 – Logan Moore (14-12)
197 – Jared McCoy (11-5) or Lukas Forsling (11-14)
285 – Erick Carrillo (12-11)