KEARNEY, Neb. – At long last, returning All-American Mario Ybarra made his season debut as one of 18 Bulldogs to represent Concordia University Wrestling at the Younes Hospitality Open hosted by the University of Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday (Nov. 20). While Ybarra placed second in the 133-pound elite bracket, teammates Mason Garcia (197) and Thomas Ivey (125) also earned tournament place finishes. As a whole, the Bulldogs totaled 30 wins, including nine by fall.
This is the closest Head Coach Myron Bradbury’s squad has been to full strength so far this season. A week earlier, Concordia wrestled only five grapplers at the Dakota Wesleyan Open.
“Mario was exactly what you would expect – tough as nails,” Bradbury said. “He was leading by example, competing hard and staying focused. He really is a team captain in every sense. He has some things he can clean up, but he recovers immediately when he makes a mistake. He doesn’t take anything for granted in wrestles tough in every position. It’s November and this was a strong debut.”
Ybarra came up just short, 3-1 in sudden victory, at the hands of Air Force’s Nick Krug in the 133-pound championship match. The native of Scottsbluff, Neb., made his way to the title bout with close victories over Fort Hays State’s Gunnar Smith, Morningside’s Taylor Vasquez and Colorado Mesa’s Collin Metzgar. The latter opponent is currently ranked 14th in NCAA Division II at 133 pounds. This was just a start for Ybarra, who placed seventh at the NAIA national tournament last season.
In the amateur bracket at 125, Ivey (York, Neb.) advanced to the semifinals before finally suffering a defeat. Ivey claimed five wins on the day, including one over an opponent from Colorado State. He dropped to the consolation bracket and defeated a foe from host Nebraska-Kearney and claimed third place.
Said Bradbury, “Thomas wrestled smart like Mario. He contests every position and capitalizes when it’s time. He has some work to do to not put himself in such tight matches. He was focused for seven minutes at a time and that was really good to see.”
Garcia, who hails from Arroyo Grande, Calif., has been on a tear early this season. He placed sixth in the 197-pound amateur bracket in Kearney while going 5-1 with two more pins. He has run his season record to 11-1 with seven pins and a tech fall. Garcia was not able to fully place out after reaching the maximum number of matches wrestled for the day.
The Younes Hospitality Open also marked the first tournament outing for heavyweight and returning national qualifier Jacob Telles, who notched four wins (two pins) on Saturday. His two defeats came at the hands of NCAA Division II opponents. Meanwhile, two wins apiece were turned in by Adam Roberts (125) and Tavoris Smith (157).
The open hosted by Nebraska-Kearney features a strong field each season. Forty-seven different institutions, of various levels of collegiate competition, were represented at the Younes Hospitality Open. Of the 18 Bulldogs who entered the fray on Saturday, 15 emerged with at least one victory. There is still progress to be made. Said Bradbury, “We are still learning the sport. Some did better than others at applying what we’ve been working on.”
The Bulldogs will be off from competition during the week of Thanksgiving. Next up on the schedule will be a pair of GPAC duals at The Arena in Sioux City, Iowa, on Wednesday, Dec. 1. On that date, Concordia will go up against Dakota Wesleyan and Morningside.