SEWARD, Neb. – The GPAC office announced the All-GPAC wrestling team on Wednesday. Eight Bulldog wrestlers received an all-conference honor, including Andrew Schulte who was named the Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Wrestler of the Year. Head coach Dana Vote was also honored, claiming the Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Wrestling Coach of the Year title.
Head Coach Vote said, “Getting the conference wrestler of the year three years now just shows the commitment that these guys have to elevate themselves to the next level. All three of them have earned the title and have done a good job throughout their years here. Getting the coach of the year award goes to the kids. They’re the ones that put in the work and commitment to work towards that next level.”
Coach Vote was named the GPAC Coach of the Year after leading his team to a 13-4 overall dual record and a perfect 7-0 GPAC mark. Six of the 10 GPAC weekly honors went to one of Vote’s wrestlers this season. Vote has transformed a program that posted a 2-10 dual record and sent no wrestlers to the national tournament in his first year at the helm of Bulldog wrestling. Fast forward to his fourth season and Vote is leading 10 wrestlers to the NAIA Tournament, has won 14 straight GPAC duals and coaches a team ranked seventh in the nation.
This marks the third year in a row that a Concordia grappler has been named the GPAC Wrestler of the Year. Schulte, who is tied for first in the nation in his weight class, received the honor after an outstanding regular season, recording a 30-6 overall record and was placed on the all-conference first team. The junior is riding a 21 match win streak which started in December. Most recently, Schulte won the NAIA North national Qualifier 141 title after pinning two of his opponents and winning by a major decision in the championship round. Schulte has been named the GPAC Wrestler of the Week three times and the National Wrestler of the Week once this season. This is the junior’s second first team selection.
Also named to the All-GPAC First Team were Jr Lule (157), Matthew Atwood (184) and Ceron Francisco (285). Receiving second team accolades were Foster Bunce (149), Tommy Bailey (165) and Ken Burkhardt Jr (197). Dmitri Smith (125) claimed all-conference honorable mention recognition.
Lule, ranked seventh in the nation, has a record of 34-7 this season. The senior has made the technical fall his usual way of victory. Fourteen of his 34 triumphs have come from technical falls. Lule has won 12 straight matches including four in the NAIA North National Qualifier where the California native took the 157 pound title. At the Dakota Wesleyan open, Lule also took first place. Twice this season Lule was named the GPAC Wrestler of the Week. Last season, the senior was named to the All-GPAC Second Team.
In his first season as a Bulldog wrestler, Atwood has posted an overall record of 24-5 in the 184 weight class and is ranked 11th in the country. In the NAIA North National Qualifier, the senior won four matches after sticking two opponents, recording his eighth and ninth pins of the year to claim the 184 title. One other win in the qualifier was over a rival who had previously beaten him at the National Duals. Atwood has placed either third or first at all tournaments that he has competed in this year.
Francisco has been named to the all-conference first team for the second time in his career. The junior, ranked sixth in the nation in the 285 weight class, has registered a 28-13 record this season. Francisco has claimed first place at two tournaments this year including the NAIA North National Qualifier and the Nebraska-Kearney Open where he received the Most Outstanding Wrestler Award. The junior had a tough go at the National Duals but regrouped to go on a nine match win streak through the national qualifier. Francisco received the GPAC Wrestler of the Week award once this year.
For the first time in his career, Bunce was named to the All-GPAC Second Team. The junior has compiled a 14-9 record this year after claiming third place at the NAIA North National Qualifier. Bunce is tied for 15th in the country in the 149 weigh class. Five of Bunce’s victories came by the way of pins.
Bailey received all-conference recognition for the first time in his career after being named to the second team this year. The junior, tied for 11th in the nation, placed fifth at the NAIA North National Qualifier last weekend. Bailey was added to the national qualifier list as an at-large bid. After placing fifth at the national qualifier, the junior finished the regular season winning six of his last eight matches.
Burkhardt Jr has now been given All-GPAC recognition all three years of his career. The junior, ranked 14th in the country, owns an overall record of 27-11. Burkhardt most recently placed second at the NAIA North National Qualifier and has placed second at the Battle of the Rockies and third at the Grand View Open. During the national qualifier, Burkhardt recorded his 11th pin of the season.
Smith was named to the honorable mention team after posting a 20-17 record. This is the junior’s second All-GPAC honor in his career. Smith, ranked 12th in the country in the 125 weight class, placed third at the NAIA North National Qualifier. The junior placed fifth at the Missouri Valley Invite earlier this season.
The Concordia wrestling team will be heading to the NAIA Tournament March 4-5. The tournament will take place at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan.