ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The 22nd-ranked Concordia wrestling team notched a pair of pins and a technical fall to make host Northwestern its third-straight GPAC victim. The Bulldogs endured an upset loss right at the top of the lineup, but rode yet another Austin Fehlhafer pin to a 23-16 win over the Red Raiders (4-6, 3-4 GPAC) at the Bultman Center on Tuesday night.
Concordia, 9-7 overall, improved its mark to 5-1 in GPAC duals, putting it right on the heels of first-place Morningside (4-0).
Both Fehlhafer (174) and Emilio Rivera (141) extended impressive individual winning streaks. With the team outcome still in doubt, Fehlhafer (24-8) delivered a big blow to the Red Raiders’ hopes by erasing Luis Rivera-Santiago in 1:12, making it 17-10 Bulldogs heading into the last three bouts. The win was Fehlhafer’s eighth in a row thanks to his GPAC-leading 17th fall of the campaign.
Rivera (18-6), named the GPAC wrestler of the week earlier in the day, bumped up a weight to 141 and was his usual dominant self. He moved to 9-0 against GPAC opponents by tossing around Tyler Hatch for a technical fall, giving Concordia an 8-4 lead at the time.
Later on Milford product Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) added the Bulldogs’ second fall of the night to clinch the team victory at 197 pounds. With Concordia up 17-10 in team scoring, Burkhardt (18-15) nailed Forrest Marx to the mat in 4:38 for his sixth pin on the season. He has won five of his last six matches.
On a night when Concordia split the 10 matches with Northwestern, the two pins from Bulldog rookies were crucial.
“They did a great job. They really competed and wrestled their entire matches,” second-year head coach Dana Vote said. “Fehlhafer took some good shots and ended up getting the pin. Burkhardt continued to wrestle and build on the lead.”
Northwestern made things interesting by taking a 10-8 lead halfway through the match. In the only battle between nationally-ranked wrestlers, No. 15 Diego Angelo Quintana (18-11) majored Concordia’s 13th-ranked Austin Mogg (12-6) at 125. The Red Raiders’ John Lynch (16-10) picked up a big win by seizing a 3-1 decision over No. 11 Enrique Barajas (13-11) at 149.
“I knew 125, 149 and 165 would be tough, but I thought we could win a couple,” Vote said.
Concordia’s two additional wins came by decision from Kodie Cole (13-13) at 133 and via Tommy Bailey (8-11) at 165.
Still, Vote came away from Tuesday’s dual wanting more.
“Everything we do is focused on building toward the regional tournament,” Vote said. “We want to finish well versus Hastings first. Right now we’re not satisfied. In areas where we need to pick things up, we took a step back. We want to keep attacking.”
The Bulldogs now have nine days until they return to action on Thursday, Feb. 13 when they hit the road for their final dual of the season. Hastings (1-7, 1-3 GPAC) will serve as the opponent for a match that begins at 7 p.m. A win will clinch a finish no lower than second in the GPAC dual standings for Concordia.
Due to inclement weather, Vote and the Bulldogs planned to spend Tuesday night in the Sioux City, Iowa, area before returning to Seward on Wednesday.