Preview: 2021 GPAC Wrestling Championships

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 17, 2021 in Wrestling

SEWARD, Neb. – It’s championship season for Concordia University Wrestling, which has its sights set on a return to full strength at the most opportune time. Head Coach Levi Calhoun will enter 12 Bulldogs into the fray this Friday and Saturday at the GPAC Wrestling Championships hosted by Midland. Concordia is the defending GPAC champion having won the 2020 postseason event hosted by Morningside.

2021 GPAC Wrestling Championships

Session I – Friday, Feb. 19, 5 p.m.
Session II – Saturday, Feb. 20, 10 a.m.
Wikert Event Center | Fremont, Neb. (Midland campus)
--Live Streaming:
--Live Results: Track Wrestling
--Note: spectators are not allowed

Calhoun’s championship roster is made up of two returning GPAC titlists in senior Gabe Crawford and junior Mario Ybarra. As a sign of the roster changes experienced by the program, only three of the 12 Bulldogs set to compete this weekend also took part in the conference tournament a year ago. Issiah Burks hopes to improve upon his fifth-place GPAC finish last season as he joins fellow captains Crawford and Ybarra in the lineup.

That means the roster is full of Bulldogs who will be experiencing the conference tournament for the first time. Foremost among the first-timers is freshman heavyweight Jacob Telles, who leads the team in both wins (30) and pins (13), and is ranked 15th nationally in his weight class. Telles is one of several freshmen projected to be included on the 12-man roster for the weekend.

Based on the GPAC rankings released in early February, eight Concordia wrestlers are ranked in the top six of the conference in their respective weight classes. Ybarra (No. 1 at 133), Burks (No. 2 at 157) and Telles (No. 2 at 285) are each favored to reach championship matches. Ybarra will attempt to quickly knock off the rust. He has not wrestled since the Concordia Bulldog Duals on Dec. 19. Ybarra’s 12-match win streak remains intact.

The Bulldogs will not be the favorite this weekend despite their recent run of championship glory. Since the beginning of the 2014-15 season, the program has captured a total of nine conference/regional championships, including five in the regular season and four in the postseason. Concordia has won GPAC/regional postseason titles in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020. Four different head coaches presided over those championships, including Calhoun and current Doane head coach Dana Vote.

During the 2020-21 regular season, the Bulldogs went 3-5 in GPAC duals and placed in a tie for fifth. The top four in the standings were Doane (8-0), Morningside (7-1), Briar Cliff (6-2) and Jamestown (4-4). In the early February NAIA rankings, the GPAC boasted a combined 23 nationally-ranked competitors. That acclaimed group includes top-ranked 141-pounder Baterdene Boldmaa of Doane.

The 64th annual NAIA Wrestling National Championship is slated to play out March 5-6 at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kan., where the event was first held in 2020. Automatic qualifiers for the national championships will be known at the conclusion of the conference tournaments. Concordia traveled eight wrestlers to Park City last year.

GPAC Championship Roster: will be updated when finalized.

The following individuals are likely to be included on the GPAC roster.

133 – Carter Willis (8-21)
Ranked No. 6 in the GPAC at 125 … 3-9 record against conference opponents.

133 – Mario Ybarra (12-1)
Ranked No. 1 in the GPAC and No. 4 in the NAIA at 133 … holds an active 12-match win streak … placed first at the DWU Open … currently undefeated against conference opponents … reigning GPAC champion at 125.

149 – Jeaven Scdoris (19-16)
Ranked No. 6 in the GPAC at 141 … placed second at the DWU open and fourth at the Edmonds Open … owns a record of 9-6 against conference opponents.

157 – Issiah Burks (21-8)
Ranked No. 2 in the GPAC and No. 20 in the NAIA at 157 … placed at three tournaments this season, taking second at the York Open, first at the DWU Open,and third at the Hastings Open … holds the second most pins on the team with 11 … currently 7-3 against conference opponents … placed fifth place in the GPAC at 165 last season.

157 – Jose Sanchez (12-15)
Placed second at the DWU Open … went 4-7 against GPAC opponents.

165 – Gabe Crawford (7-6)
Ranked No. 5 in the GPAC at 165 … placed second at the Hastings Open … 3-4 against conference opponents … reigning GPAC champion at 157 pounds.

165 – Tavoris Smith (12-14)
Placed fifth at the York Open … record of 4-8 versus conference foes.

174 – TJ Huber (17-18)
Ranked No. 5 in the GPAC at 174 … has placed at three tournaments this season, taking fourth at the York Open, third at the DWU Open and second at the Edmonds Open … record of 6-8 against conference opponents.

184 – Oscar Ramirez-Garcia (7-17)
Competed in four of five tournaments this season … collected three wins against GPAC opponents.

197 – Mason Garcia (16-10)
Ranked No. 6 in the GPAC at 197 … has posted eight pins on the season … placed second at the York Open, third at the DWU Open and fourth at the Doane Open … record of 4-5 versus GPAC opponents.

285 – Jacob Telles (30-11)
Ranked No. 2 in the GPAC and No. 15 in the NAIA at 285 … has placed in four tournaments this season, earing third at the York Open, second at the DWU Open, fifth at the Doane Open and fourth at the Edmonds Open … leads the team in wins (30) and pins (13) … record of 10-3 against conference opponents.