SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University Wrestling program has circled Nov. 11 on the calendar as the date to showcase many of its top competitors for the first time this 2021-22 season. The Bulldogs have dubbed Thursday as Faculty Night at Friedrich Arena, where Hastings will serve as the opponent for a GPAC dual. Concordia faculty members in attendance on Thursday will receive a free popcorn and free soft drink, courtesy of the wrestling program.
Thursday, Nov. 11: Concordia vs. Hastings, 7 p.m.
--Faculty in attendance will receive a free popcorn and free soft drink
· Myron Bradbury will make his home debut as head coach on Thursday. Bradbury spent the previous five seasons as the top assistant at Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.). During that stretch, the Blue Raiders placed inside the top five at the NAIA National Championships each season with runner-up claims in 2017 and 2019. So far this season, Bradbury has presided over a Bulldog team that has wrestled at the York College Open and the Dan Harris Open (hosted by Baker University).
· Concordia is coming off a 2020-21 season that saw it go 3-5 in GPAC duals (tied for fifth), place sixth at the GPAC tournament and finish 35th at the NAIA national tournament. The Bulldogs bring back two national qualifiers in Mario Ybarra (133) and Jacob Telles (285). Ybarra placed seventh at the national tournament at 133 pounds, earning All-America honors. Currently, Ybarra is ranked eighth in the NAIA at 133 and Telles is ranked 19th nationally at heavyweight.
· At the York Open that took place on Oct. 30, a group of 14 Bulldogs combined for 39 wins, 29 pins and 11 tournament place finishes within the top four. No one was more dominant than Mason Garcia at 197 pounds. The native of Arroyo Grande, Calif., pinned each of his five opponents (four in the first period) on his way to a York Open championship. Garcia’s five pins in a single day nearly matched his season total of seven from 2020-21 when he went 18-12 overall. At 141, Conner Burrus went 5-0 at the York Open and was the champion of the ‘B’ bracket.
· Five Concordia grapplers competed this past Sunday at the Dan Harris Open in Baldwin City, Kan. Jose Sanchez enjoyed the most success amongst Concordia wrestlers. He notched three wins in the 165-pound bracket. Sanchez opened the day with a 9-8 victory by decision and also collected a pin. Tavoris Smith (157) and Mozes Valenzuela Smith (285) picked up one win apiece. Valenzuela Smith pinned his second opponent of the day. Meanwhile, Tracey Allen (149) and Jack Hedke (197) came up empty in their two matches.
· Prior to last season, the Bulldogs had won or shared the GPAC regular season title in five of six seasons. Last season’s GPAC dual wins came over Dakota Wesleyan, Midland and Jamestown. Concordia hopes to reverse its 27-24 loss to Hastings from this past January.
In the rankings
In the official preseason rankings, Concordia came in at No. 4 in the GPAC while Hastings landed at No. 7. Below is a listing of ranked individuals from both teams. The Broncos boast three grapplers who are ranked nationally: Edrich Nortje (seventh at 141), Thomas Stevenson (14th at 157) and Taygen Smith (sixth at 165).
GPAC = conference rank | NR = NAIA national rank
125 – Thomas Ivey: GPAC – 6th
133 – Mario Ybarra: GPAC – 1st | NR – 8th
157 – Tavoris Smith: GPAC – 5th
157 – Anthony Perez: GPAC – 6th
165 – Issiah Burks: GPAC – 3rd
174 – TJ Huber: GPAC – 3rd
197 – Mason Garcia: GPAC – 4th
285 – Jacob Telles: GPAC – 3rd | NR – 19th
133 – Kavika Aholelei: GPAC – 5th
141 – Edrich Nortje: GPAC – 2nd | NR – 7th
157 – Thomas Stevenson: GPAC – 1st | NR – 14th
165 – Taygen Smith: GPAC – 1st | NR – 6th