MITCHELL, S.D. – One of the program’s all-time greats, Mario Ybarra came up just short of a GPAC title. On the plus side, Ybarra has sewn up a spot at the NAIA national tournament for the third-straight year. His runner-up finish at 133 pounds highlighted the weekend for the Concordia University Wrestling team at the 2022 GPAC Wrestling Championships (Feb. 18-19). The Bulldogs wound up with six individual place finishers and placed sixth overall with 63 points.
Concordia had also placed in a tie for sixth in the conference during the regular season. There were ups and downs throughout the weekend in Mitchell, S.D., site of the 2022 conference tournament. Both Ybarra and Jacob Telles (wild card selection) will be headed to the national tournament.
“We are super proud of the way the guys competed this weekend,” said Coach Tyree Cox. “We had some tough losses but we also had some really big wins. The guys were able to handle adversity and put their best foot forward. We are excited to have Mario and Jacob headed to nationals. Mario wrestled a great match in the championship. We will make sure he is ready to go at nationals.
“Jacob wrestled very tough this weekend and avenged his close loss to the Jamestown guy and had a close match with No. 2 in the NAIA from Doane. TJ (Huber) and Issiah (Burks) both had tough, competitive losses where they had a chance.”
Ybarra, Issiah Burks (165), TJ Huber (174) and Jacob Telles (285) each began the day in the semifinals after collecting wins on Friday. Ybarra was the only one of the four to advance to the GPAC finals. The Scottsbluff, Neb., native made his way to the title bout by taking decisions over Northwestern’s Manuel Jaramillo and Morningside’s Logan Stumpf. Unfortunately, Ybarra was unable to avenge one of his two losses during the regular season. He lost in the tiebreaker, 6-1, to Taylor Vasquez of Morningside. Both Ybarra and Vasquez receive auto bids to the national tournament.
The team’s final place finishes looked like this:
· Mario Ybarra – 2nd (133)
· Jacob Telles – 3rd (285)
· Issiah Burks – 4th (165)
· TJ Huber – 4th (174)
· Jose Sanchez – 5th (165)
· Isaac Agabin – 6th (125)
The 2021 GPAC heavyweight champion, Telles gave it a good run on Saturday. He lost a 4-3 GPAC semifinal decision in a near upset of Doane’s Odgerel Batkhishig, ranked as the NAIA’s No. 2 heavyweight. Telles finished the tournament with three victories, including two on Saturday, which came over Jamestown’s Ramiro Varas Macias and Ian Howell. A native of Albuquerque, N.M., Telles leads the team with 20 wins.
Each of the Concordia losses in the semifinals were tight. Burks was edged in the semis, 6-5, by Dakota Wesleyan’s Kaleb Bigelow (rated fifth in the GPAC at 165). After the defeat, Burks toppled teammate Jose Sanchez by major decision, 12-0, and then closed his day with a 6-3 loss to Jamestown’s Park Beeler in the third-place match. On day one, Burks claimed a pin over Doane’s Benjamin Dobler, the GPAC’s No. 2-rated 165-pounder. Meanwhile, Huber battled the GPAC’s No. 1-ranked 174-pounder in the semis, Trenton Munoz of Hastings, and fell, 4-0. Huber then defeated Dakota Wesleyan’s Cole Halouska, 3-1, before dropping the third-place bout.
Seven of the 12 Bulldogs at the conference tournament registered at least one win. Sanchez notched three victories, including one on Saturday over Midland’s Kody Hahn, 5-3. After beginning the tournament in the quarterfinals, it took only one win on the weekend for Isaac Agabin to be able to place sixth at 125 pounds. At 174, Hunter Weimer won two matches by decision before being eliminated. The other five wrestlers to represent Concordia in Mitchell were Conner Burrus (141), Jeaven Scdoris (149), Anthony Perez (157), Tavoris Smith (157) and Jovon Howe (184).
Telles and Ybarra will be two of the 280 wrestlers nationally to compete at the 65th annual NAIA Wrestling National Championships. The 2022 event will take place inside Hartman Arena in Park City, Kan., March 4-5. A year ago, Ybarra took seventh place and garnered his first career NAIA All-America award.