Three-time defending GPAC champs to make home debut Thursday

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 28, 2017 in Wrestling

SEWARD, Neb. – The last time the Concordia University wrestling program made a public appearance at home, it wrapped a third-straight outright GPAC dual title while celebrating the careers of a decorated senior class. The 2017-18 Bulldogs are getting set to host Dakota Wesleyan at 7 p.m. CT inside Walz Arena on Thursday. It will mark Concordia’s opening dual of the season following action at three tournaments to begin November.

2016-17 GPAC Coach of the Year Andrew Nicola is early in his second season leading the Bulldogs, who placed 15th at the 2017 NAIA national championships. His dual lineup will have a much different look without the likes of crowd favorite Ceron Francisco and other 2016-17 seniors like three-time All-American Ken Burkhardt Jr., Kodie Cole and Dmitri Smith. The Bulldogs return three national qualifiers: senior Kirk Kaliszewski (165) and juniors Josh Nelsen (184) and Alexander Reimers (197).

Concordia’s projected lineup for Thursday night includes seven wrestlers that carry conference ratings, including Jon Lado, the GPAC’s top-rated 165-pounder, and a trio of Bulldogs listed at No. 2 in the league in their respective rankings: Giovanni Castillo (133), Nelsen (184) and Reimers (197). In terms of winning percentage, sophomore 141-pounder Cameron Devers (8-1) has been the team’s top wrestler so far.

The dominant program in the conference over the past three seasons, Concordia owns an active string of 21 GPAC dual wins in a row. The Bulldogs have produced perfect 7-0 conference dual marks in each of the last three seasons. Their most recent defeat in a conference dual came on Feb. 13, 2014, at Hastings. During the win streak, Concordia has combined to outscore its GPAC opponents 702-186 and has won 159 of 210 individual bouts.

Dakota Wesleyan opened up dual action this season with a 37-13 home loss to Doane on Nov. 10. Dakota Wesleyan picked up wins at 157, 165 and 174. The team’s lone individual to appear in the conference ratings is Stas Sutera, rated sixth at 133 pounds.

The Bulldogs will also be at Saturday’s Buena Vista University Open in Storm Lake, Iowa. Action is set to begin at 9 a.m. CT. Concordia will be back at home to host Northwest Kansas Tech for a dual on Friday, Dec. 8.

All home duals will be carried live by the Concordia Sports Network.

Projected lineups

Concordia (0-0)
125 – Jerry Stepps III (1-6)
133 – Giovanni Castillo (4-2)
141 – Cameron Devers (8-1)
149 – Cody Lambert (9-6)
157 – Victor Haro (3-6)
165 – Jon Lado (3-2)
174 – Walker Fisher (3-3)
184 – Josh Nelsen (7-5)
197 – Alexander Reimers (3-6)
HWT – Michael Duffy (2-2)

Dakota Wesleyan (0-1, 0-1)
125 – Seth Caro (0-3)
133 – Stas Sutera (4-4)
141 – Brandon Scharmer (1-3)
149 – Open
157 – Forrest Lewis (1-4)
165 – Alex Osborne (2-4)
174 – Tanner Wernsman (2-2)
184 – Zach Westergaard (3-5)
197 – Nick Woslum (1-3)
HWT – Open