Schulte goes 3-0, Bulldogs cap Battle of Rockies with win over No. 8 Great Falls

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 4, 2015 in Wrestling

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Up against three NAIA squads ranked in the top eight nationally, the No. 9 Concordia University wrestling team ended the day in positive fashion, edging No. 8 University of Great Falls, 19-16, on Friday evening. The victory concluded day one of two in Great Falls, Mont. The Battle of the Rockies included 11 total duals on Friday. The Bulldogs went 1-2.

Fourth-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad, now 4-2 overall in duals, dropped its first two matches on Friday. Concordia fell at the hands of No. 5 Montana State University-Northern, 25-16, and No. 4 Oklahoma City University, 20-17.

“Overall we had guys wrestle well,” Vote said. “It was a good trip out here for us. We got a chance to see some top-level guys from different parts of the country. We saw what we need to work on and what is working for us.”

Concordia’s victory over the host Argos came down to the heavyweight bout with the two sides deadlocked at 16-16. Fourth-ranked heavyweight Ceron Francisco ensured that the Bulldogs didn’t come away empty on Friday. Francisco got on top of Andreas Geranios early and picked up a 13-6 decision to improve to 13-5. After dropping the first three matches versus Great Falls, Concordia won five of the last seven to rally for the team win.

Junior Andrew Schulte (12-5), ranked seventh at 149 pounds, enjoyed the best day of any Bulldog. He won each of his three matches, all against nationally-ranked opponents: No. 16 Brandon Weber of Montana State-Northern, No. 13 Eric Ambriz of Oklahoma City and No. 15 Kyle Leir of Great Falls. Five Bulldogs claimed two wins on the day: Matt Atwood, Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197), Travian Cooke (174), Francisco and Jr Lule (157).

Vote’s group went a respectable 14-16 collectively on a day that featured 13 individual matches between ranked opponents. Atwood (10-2), ranked 13th at 184 pounds, pulled off one of the day’s biggest surprises when he upset No. 4 Derek Sivertsen of Oklahoma City (16-8 major decision) and kept alive Concordia’s chances of knocking off the Stars. Atwood’s win was part of a run of four-straight Bulldog victories to end the dual. After trailing 20-4, Concordia came up three points short.

“He’s doing the right things in and outside the room,” Vote said of Atwood. “He keeps his composure. He keeps working on getting better all the time and he’s growing confidence. He showed today that he can wrestle with anyone in the country. He brings leadership to the room.”

Cooke recovered nicely from a loss by technical fall in his first battle of the day. The freshman from Holly Springs, N.C., upended Oklahoma City’s seventh-ranked Jamie Shawver, 6-5. Cooke also recorded the lone Bulldog pin of the day, wiping out Great Falls’ Francisco Rueda in 4:54.

It was a tough day for the top-three weights (125, 133 and 141) in the Bulldog lineup. Those spots went a combined 0-9. Concordia was unable to dig out of a 13-0 hole versus Montana State-Northern though it did briefly tie the team score after three-straight triumphs by Schulte, Lule and Tommy Bailey.

The loss to Montana State-Northern snapped an overall dual win streak of eight. The Bulldogs still possess an active GPAC dual win streak of nine. Concordia now owns wins over three top-15 teams: No. 8 Great Falls, No. 11 York College and No. 12 Midland.

The Battle of the Rockies continues on Saturday at 9 a.m. MST with an open tournament inside McLaughlin Center Gymnasium. Fifteen Bulldogs will be amongst the loaded field at the University of Great Falls.