Sixth-ranked Bulldogs top Northwestern, remain unbeaten in GPAC duals

By on Dec. 10, 2014 in Wrestling

Sixth-ranked Bulldogs top Northwestern, remain unbeaten in GPAC duals

SEWARD, Neb. – Despite having a pair of starters out of the lineup, the sixth-ranked Concordia University wrestling team remained unbeaten in GPAC duals by taking a 23-13 victory over No. 25 Northwestern (1-3, 1-2 GPAC) inside Walz Arena on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs, who moved up four spots with the release of the latest coaches’ poll on Wednesday, won six of 10 weight classes.

Third-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad now sits at 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

“I thought it was a good job,” Vote said. “We had to overcome a lot of adversity today. We had four main guys out this week and had three guys had to move up a weight class. We knew we were going to have a tough battle tonight. The kids went out and fought.”

Concordia got its most dominant wins from two of its best performers in the early portion of the season. At 157, fifth-ranked Enrique Barajas needed less than two periods to take care of the Red Raiders’ BJ Groskreutz. Concordia’s wins lead moved to 16-6 by recording three takedowns and a total of 10 back points on the way to a 16-1 win by technical fall.

Eleven of Barajas’ 16 wins have come by major decision, technical fall or pin as part of his breakthrough senior campaign.

“With this being my last year, I want to make a mark,” Barajas said. “I want to make a name for myself and go out with a bang. It’s fun and games now.”

Sophomore Ceron Francisco ensured that the Bulldogs closed the night without any drama. With Concordia leading 19-13, the Concordia heavyweight picked up an 11-3 major decision over Forest Marx. Francisco (14-8) attacked from the get-go, piling up a 7-2 first-period lead after nearly pinning Marx. It was another impressive effort by Francisco, who vaulted into the national rankings at No. 11 on Wednesday.

“Ceron’s getting better each time out,” Vote said. “The improvements he’s made from last year to this year are crazy. I think he’s going to keep improving. We could see some big things coming in the near future.” 

Concordia started fast at the light weights, piling up a 10-0 lead after wins at 125, 133 and 141. In a battle of ranked grapplers at 133, No. 4 Emilio Rivera (15-5) earned an 11-4 decision over No. 14 Ricky Ortiz. That followed a 14-4 major decision at 125 for the Bulldogs’ Dmitri Smith, who improved to 2-1 in GPAC duals. Smith went on the offensive, racking up five takedowns, three back points and a riding time advantage.

Third-ranked Eric Franklin (11-5) answered Vote’s call for a more aggressive offensive approach. Wrestling up a weight at 141, the native of Tampa, Fla., got out of the gates with an emphatic takedown of Michael Frehse. Franklin totaled seven takedowns on the way to a 16-9 victory.

The other Bulldog victory on the night came at 197, where Ken Burkhardt Jr. (12-10) stopped a run of three-straight Northwestern wins. The Milford native wore down Derek Jaurique after a tightly-contested first two periods. Burkhardt Jr. struck for a takedown and three near-fall points in the final period to take a 9-1 major decision.

One additional bout featured two ranked combatants. At 174, Northwestern’s 10th-ranked Tyree Cox scored near-fall points in all three periods and finished with an impressive 18-6 win over No. 13 Austin Fehlhahfer (5-5) of Concordia.

The Bulldogs enjoyed a 28-11 advantage in takedowns and compiled 23 back points compared to 10 for Northwestern.

Sophomore Kodie Cole, a national qualifier last season, made his season debut for Concordia and fell, 8-4, at 149 pounds.

The Bulldogs now look forward to the Desert Duals in Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday, Dec. 20. Concordia will take on four opponents ranked among the top 20 teams in the NAIA in duals that will begin at 8 a.m. PST inside the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino Ballroom located along the Vegas strip. The complete schedule can be viewed HERE.