Wrestling to face elite competition in Great Falls

By Jacob Knabel on Dec. 3, 2015 in Wrestling

SEWARD, Neb. – The ninth-ranked Concordia University wrestling team left early Thursday morning as part of preparation to compete at the Battle of the Rockies hosted by the University of Great Falls in Great Falls, Mont. The event begins on Friday with a series of duals and continues on Saturday with an open tournament. Fourth-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad will test itself against three top-10 ranked NAIA opponents in Friday’s dual action to be held inside the McLaughlin Center Gymnasium on the Great Falls campus.

The Bulldogs last competed on Nov. 21 at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open where junior Ceron Francisco won the 285-pound title and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. Francisco and the Bulldogs currently own a GPAC dual win streak of nine and an overall win streak of eight. During its active conference dual win streak, Concordia has outscored its opponents by a combined total of 324-69.

The competition level will ramp up this weekend. Friday’s slate includes No. 5 Montana State University-Northern (12 p.m. MST), No. 4 Oklahoma City University (4:30 p.m. MST) and No. 8 University of Great Falls (6 p.m. MST). Each opponent boasts at least five nationally-ranked wrestlers. Oklahoma City has a pair of top-ranked individuals in 157-pounder Zach Skates and 165-pounder Ricky McCarty. The Bulldogs own two dominant dual wins this season over top-15 foes: No. 11 York College (38-8) and No. 12 Midland (33-10).

In national rankings released by the NAIA on Nov. 18, nine Bulldogs appeared in the top 16 of their respective weight classes. Concordia possesses a ranked wrestler in nine of 10 weight classes. Francisco is the team’s highest-rated competitor at No. 4 in the heavyweight class. In the latest rating, freshman Alexander Reimers made his first career appearance, checking in at No. 14 at 197 pounds. Four additional Bulldogs own top-10 rankings: Kodie Cole (7th at 133), Foster Bunce (7th at 141), Andrew Schulte (7th at 149) and Jr Lule (9th at 157).

The two-day event, which includes 11 total duals on Friday, also features three NCAA Division II teams: McKendree University (Ill.), Minot State University (N.D.) and Simon Fraser University (Canada). No. 20 Northwest College (Wyo.), a junior college, completes the field of participating institutions. Nearly 30 ranked NAIA wrestlers will compete in the open on Saturday.

Vote has entered 15 of his wrestlers into the Battle of the Rockies. Several other Bulldogs will also compete at the Buena Vista University Open in Storm Lake, Iowa, on Saturday. Concordia will then have an extended break before its next competition – the Viking Warrior Open in Fremont, Neb., on Saturday, Jan. 2.

Battle of the Rockies Duals Opponents

*Nationally-ranked wrestlers listed

No. 5 Montana State University-Northern
133 – No. 16 Blake Ivie
149 – No. 16 Brandon Weber
157 – No. 8 Tommy Cooper
165 – No. 7 Andrew Bartel
174 – No. 4 Willie Miller
197 – No. 1 Garrett DeMers
285 – No. 2 Toby Cheff
285 – No. 8 Taylor Kornoely 

No. 4 Oklahoma City University
133 – No. 3 Parker Bohannan
141 – No. 16 James Landoll
149 – No. 13 Eric Ambriz
157 – No. 1 Zach Skates
165 – No. 1 Ricky McCarty
174 – No. 7 Jamie Shawver
184 – No. 4 Derek Sivertsen
197 – No. 16 Cody Sivertsen
285 – No. 14 Korey Walker 

No. 8 University of Great Falls (Mont.)
125 – No. 2 Luke Schlosser
133 – No. 3 Clinton Garvin
149 – No. 15 Kyle Leir
165 – No. 5 Khaldoon Rashid
184 – No. 8 Taylor Vaughn