Wrestling rides wave of perfect GPAC season into NAIA North qualifier

By on Feb. 16, 2015 in Wrestling

Wrestling rides wave of perfect GPAC season into NAIA North qualifier

SEWARD, Neb. – On the heels of a dominant 42-3 win over Hastings that locked up an outright GPAC title and a perfect 7-0 conference dual record, the sixth-ranked Concordia University wrestling team enters an important week of preparation. Trips to the 2015 NAIA Wrestling National Championships will be at stake on Saturday when 12 Bulldogs compete at the North Qualifying Group Tournament hosted by York College. The North includes all eight GPAC wrestling members as well as Dickinson State (N.D.), Graceland (Iowa), Jamestown (N.D.), Waldorf (Iowa), William Penn (Iowa) and York.

The top four finishers in each weight class, plus 15 at-large selections from the North, receive invitations to the national championships.

Ranked as the top team in the region, the Bulldogs find themselves in a much different position than where they sat just two years ago. Head coach Dana Vote inherited a roster of only 15 individuals in his first season, a rebuilding campaign for the program. Now Concordia heads to its regional as the favorite thanks to a well-stocked group outfitted with 10 nationally-ranked grapplers.

Vote and company hope that the GPAC title is just the beginning of a great finish to the 2014-15 season.

“It was great. It was an emotional time,” Vote said following the team’s Feb. 3 win over Briar Cliff in a matchup of teams that sported undefeated conference records. “The guys are excited. We worked for this for the last year-and-a-half. It’s a big win for the seniors. Our two seniors are both transfers but they’re two guys who took a big risk coming here. We didn’t really have that great of a program at the time. I told them what I thought we could do and how they could be part of it. They bought in.”

Most of the dozen Bulldogs set to wrestle on Saturday will enter the tournament on hot streaks. Kodie Cole (133) owns a seven-match win streak, Dmitri Smith (125) has won six of his last seven bouts, Emilio Rivera (133) is 10-2 over his past 12 matches, Andrew Schulte (141) is 13-2 to begin his Bulldog career, Enrique Barajas (149) has won five in a row, Austin Starkey (157/165) has triumphed in five of his last six, Austin Fehlhafer (174) has seven wins and six pins in his last eight matches, Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) is 9-2 in his last 11 bouts and heavyweight DJ McIntyre has come out on top in five of his past six.

“I like where we’re at right now,” Vote said after last week’s thumping of Hastings. “I think we’ve done a great job and put ourselves in a situation to be successful at regionals. That’s what I asked of the guys. Put yourself in position. I think we’re ready to wrestle. I think we’re ready to get to the national tournament.”

Barajas breezed to an 8-0 record against GPAC opponents. He won by technical fall in his latest outing. Barajas and company are teeming with confidence heading into Saturday.

“I think we’re in a good position to win the regional,” Barajas said. “We have tough guys in the room. Everybody’s mindset is set on winning. I believe 100 percent that we can get it done.”

North team rankings
1. Concordia – 190 points
2. Dickinson State – 123
3. Morningside – 81
4. William Penn – 73
5. Briar Cliff – 68
6. York – 62
7. Jamestown – 56
8. Midland – 54
9. Northwestern – 49
10. Doane – 41
11. Hastings – 34
12. Waldorf – 30
13. Dakota Wesleyan – 16
14. Graceland – 13 

North breakdown by class:


Concordia competitors: Dmitri Smith (11-11)

North top six (national rank in parentheses)
1. Bo Bettinson (9), Waldorf
2. Kyle Robison (10), Briar Cliff
3. Dmitri Smith (14), Concordia
4. Brent Curtis, Morningside
5. Joseph Murillo, Jamestown
6. Khalil Williams, William Penn 


Concordia competitors: Emilio Rivera (24-7) and Kodie Cole (11-5)

North top six (national rank in parentheses)
1. Emilio Rivera (4), Concordia
2. Kodie Cole (10), Concordia
3. Richard Ortiz (15), Northwestern
4. Cartland Allen, Graceland
5. Alexander Schmitz, Morningside
6. Cade Coles, Dickinson State 


Concordia competitors: Andrew Schulte (13-2)

North top six (national rank in parentheses)
1. Andrew Schulte (3), Concordia
2. Scottie Bonds (5), William Penn
3. Josh Lopez (13), York
4. Anthony Kifer (15), Jamestown
5. Garret Lambrecht, Morningside
6. Alec Chanthapatheth, Hastings


Concordia competitors: Enrique Barajas (21-9) and Jr Lule (11-5)

North top six (national rank in parentheses)
1. Enrique Barajas (7), Concordia
2. Jr Lule (10), Concordia
3. Seth Ehlang (11), Dickinson State
4. Steven Garcia (15), Morningside
5. Connor Blanco, Hastings
6. Martin Phillips, Doane 


Concordia competitors: Austin Starkey (21-14)

North top six (national rank in parentheses)
1. Sean Elkins (9), Dickinson State
2. Joseph Weber (11), Briar Cliff
3. Kyle Gerlach (15), Dakota Wesleyan
4. John Hedge, Doane
5. Austin Starkey, Concordia
6. Charlton Benjamin, William Penn 


Concordia competitors: Tommy Bailey (8-15)

North top six (national rank in parentheses)
1. Taylor Hodel (6), Dickinson State
2. Michael Nord (8), Jamestown
3. Carlos Arana (16), York
4. Corey Sornson, Morningside
5. Jay Fresh, William Penn
6. Brandon Shuler, Northwestern 


Concordia competitors: None

North top six (national rank in parentheses)
1. Anthony Pike (6), Briar Cliff
2. Kevin Corbett (8), Doane
3. Tyler McMichael (10), Midland
4. Tyree Cox (13), Northwestern
5. Tyler Brown (16), Dickinson State
6. Ishmael Rempson, William Penn 


Concordia competitors: Austin Fehlhafer (12-8)

North top six (national rank in parentheses)
1. Sterling Terry (5), Midland
2. Rulin Pederson (7), Morningside
3. Austin Fehlhafer (11), Concordia
4. Jon Solano (16), Dickinson State
5. Lane Oversen, Dickinson State
6. Randall Null, Northwestern 


Concordia competitors: Ken Burkhardt Jr. (26-14)

North top six (national rank in parentheses)
1. Hudson Buck (2), Dickinson State
2. Kolton Kersten (3), Midland
3. Ken Burkhardt Jr. (8), Concordia
4. Kyle Soderblom (13), William Penn
5. Joel Hernandez, Hastings
6. Logan Paul Eickhoff, York 


Concordia competitors: Ceron Francisco (24-12) and DJ McIntyre (21-12)

North top six (national rank in parentheses)
1. Saia Lotulelei (3), York
2. DJ McIntyre (13), Concordia
3. Ceron Francisco (15), Concordia
4. Antonio Lopez, Jamestown
5. Abram Reynolds, Briar Cliff
6. Angel Gomez, Waldorf