SEWARD, Neb. – The defending GPAC and NAIA North group champion Concordia University wrestling team will begin the 2015-16 campaign with high aspirations. In preseason ratings released this week, the Bulldogs topped the GPAC and checked in at No. 8 in the NAIA national coaches’ poll. Head coach Dana Vote’s program finished 12th at the 2015 national championships.
On an individual level, nine Bulldogs garnered national rankings and a total of 11 grapplers received preseason GPAC mention (see entire list below). Four of Vote’s standouts are ranked first in the GPAC: juniors Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197), Kodie Cole (133) Ceron Francisco (285) and Andrew Schulte (149). All four also ranked among the top five NAIA competitors within their respective weight classes.
As a team, the Bulldogs earned national ratings in all seven polls released during the 2014-15 season. Concordia found itself in the top 10 on four occasions, rising as high as No. 6 twice (highest-ever ranking for the program).
Vote returns seven national qualifiers and all four 2015 All-Americans (Burkhardt Jr., Cole, Francisco and Schulte). That group helped the Bulldogs go a perfect 7-0 in GPAC duals.
Concordia officially opens its season on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the Grand View University Open in Des Moines, Iowa.
Concordia 2015-16 preseason individual ratings
125 – Dmitri Smith – GPAC: 3rd | NAIA: 14th
125 – Ignace Hakizimana – GPAC: 4th | NAIA: 16th
133 – Kodie Cole – GPAC: 1st | NAIA: 4th
141 – Foster Bunce – GPAC: 2nd | NAIA: 9th
149 – Andrew Schulte – GPAC: 1st | NAIA: 5th
157 – Jr Lule – GPAC: 2nd | NAIA: 12th
165 – Tommy Bailey – GPAC: 3rd | NAIA: T-16th
165 – Austin Starkey – GPAC: 6th
174 – Josh Nelson – GPAC: 5th
197 – Ken Burkhardt Jr. – GPAC: 1st | NAIA: 4th
285 – Ceron Francisco – GPAC: 1st | NAIA: 4th