2012-13 Wrestling schedule/results

Dual Record - 2-10 overall; 1-5 GPAC (T-6th)
Season Stats

Nov. 10 Swede Open Lindsborg, Kan. Results
Nov. 17 University of Nebraska-Kearney Open Kearney, Neb. Results
Nov. 29 (17) York College Dual  Seward, Neb. L, 12-36
Dec. 1 Simpson College Invite  Indianola, Iowa 10th of 13
Dec. 8 Buena Vista Open Storm Lake, Iowa Results
Raven Duals: Dec. 15
Dec. 15 Northwest Kansas Technical College Atchison, Kan. W, 33-19
Dec. 15 Wayland Baptist University (Texas) Atchison, Kan. L, 9-33
Dec. 15 Fort Hays State University (Kan.) Atchison, Kan. L, 0-48
Dec. 15 (13) Missouri Baptist University Atchison, Kan. L, 7-32
Jan. 10 Briar Cliff University - Dual   Seward, Neb. L, 12-30
Jan. 12 Quality Hotel Open Hastings, Neb. Results
Jan. 17 Northwestern College - Dual   Seward, Neb. W, 24-19
Jan. 24 York College - Dual  York, Neb.  L, 21-29 
Jan. 26 Grand View Open Des Moines, Iowa  Results
Jan. 29 (17) Dakota Wesleyan - Dual  Fremont, Neb. L, 15-28
Jan. 29 (13) Midland University - Dual  Fremont, Neb. L, 6-43
Feb. 1 (7) Morningside College - Dual  Sioux City, Iowa  L, 3-41
Feb. 7 Hastings College - Dual  Seward, Neb. L, 6-52
Feb.16 North Qualifying Group Tournament  Fremont, Neb.   Results
March 1-2 NAIA National Wrestling Championships Des Moines, Iowa TBD

2012-13 Bulldog Wrestling Roster

Wt.. Name Yr. Hometown Previous School
125 Jordan Fowlkes Sr. Newman Grove, Neb. Newman Grove High
133 Alex Stepanek Jr. St. Paul, Neb. St. Paul
133 Austin Mogg Sr. El Reno, Okla. Buena Vista
141 Chandler Brandert Fr. Adams, Neb. Freeman
149 Martin Dobler Jr. Rockford, Ill. Rockford Lutheran
149 Brandon Starkey Sr. St. Paul, Neb. St. Paul
157 Austin Starkey Fr. St. Paul, Neb.  St. Paul
157 Peter Greimann Jr. Columbia, Mo. Univ. of Missouri 
157/165 Peter Ovens Fr. Bellevue, Wash. Bellevue 
165 Nick Sheppard Jr. Englewood, Colo. Englewood, Colo.
174 Kale Hintz So. Hebron, Neb. Thayer Central
184 Seth Crane So. North Platte, Neb. Maxwell
197 Cameron Bruce Fr. Overland Park, Kan. Blue Valley
285 Frank Ayala Sr. West Covina, Calif. Mt. San Antonio College
285 Dillon Heesch Jr. Dayton, Iowa Dayton

Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Dana Vote

Graduate Assistant: Glenn Rhees

Assistant Coach: Brady Johnson

Vote named new Concordia wrestling coach

16 APR 2012

Concordia University, Nebraska, announced today that Dana Vote has been named the Bulldogs' wrestling head coach.  Vote will also be serving in an athletic administration game management role at Concordia

“We are very pleased to welcome Dana to Concordia.  One of the primary qualities we stressed as the committee completed our search was leadership and Dana exudes that quality,” said Scott Seevers, vice president for enrollment, student life and athletics. “His track record of leadership in the area of academic support for his athletes was a real differentiator for the search team.”

Vote comes to Concordia after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.  Over the past four seasons, Vote served as the Beavers’ top assistant.  He also served as a student assistant for BVU during the 2007-08 season.  In addition, Vote worked as a camp clinician at the University of Iowa wrestling camps in 2006.

At Buena Vista, Vote helped guide three All-Americans, six national qualifiers and four Academic All-Americans.

“I’m honored to become the new head coach of the Bulldogs.  This is a great opportunity to step into a program that has limitless possibilities,” said Vote.  “I’m excited to meet the team and begin building the championship lifestyle together.” 

Before becoming a coach, Vote wrestled at both 149 and 157 pounds for the Beavers during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.  A two-time letter winner with Buena Vista, Vote wrestled for Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge for two seasons and was a national qualifier.

Vote graduated from Buena Vista in 2008 with a degree in exercise science and sports management.

“Dana brings a wealth of collegiate recruiting experience in the Midwest and the technical knowledge needed to mentor nationally ranked competitors while demonstrating a desire to engage our student-athletes in a broad-based manner,” said Devin Smith, Concordia athletic director. “Over the past three seasons, we have initiated a pattern of success for Concordia wrestling and I am certain that Dana will build upon the momentum.” 

Rhees tabbed grad assistant wrestling coach

28 JUN 2012

Concordia University, Nebraska, Head Wrestling Coach Dana Vote introduced former two-time National Champion Glenn Rhees as the Bulldog’s Graduate Assistant Wrestling Coach on Thursday.

“I am excited to bring in an individual that possesses such a decorated history on the mat, yet more importantly Glenn brings the type of character we strive to build here at Concordia,” Vote said.

In addition to his competitive accolades, Rhees brings four years of coaching experience to Concordia. His coaching career began in the spring of 2008 at Mason City High School (Iowa), and over the next two seasons Rhees served as the Freestyle Head Coach for the Mohawks. He went on to become Freestyle Head Coach for Knoxville High School (Iowa) in 2010 and the Head Assistant Coach at Fairfield High School (Iowa) in 2011.

Rhees graduated from Grand View University (Iowa) in 2011 with a degree in liberal arts and a minor in psychology. He wrestled for the Vikings in 2010 and 2011, capturing the 174-pound NAIA National Championship in 2010 and finishing second overall in 2011. Rhees began his collegiate career at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City.  Rhees’ first National Championship came as a Trojan in 2009 when he won the 174-pound junior college title. His combined individual record collegiate record was 82-12, including 26-3 at NIACC.

“I’m honored to join the Concordia staff and assist Coach Vote as we instill a championship mentality and lifestyle throughout the Bulldog program,” Rhees said.

Bulldogs land former NCAA Division III All-American wrestler

02 JUL 2012

Concordia University, Nebraska Head Wrestling Coach Dana Vote will welcome 2010 NCAA Division III All-American and Buena Vista University (Iowa) transfer Austin Mogg into the fold for the 2013-14 athletic season. Mogg, who officially signed with the Bulldogs on Thursday (June 28), will redshirt his first season on campus and will then have one season of eligibility remaining beginning in the winter of 2013.

“We’re excited to have Austin because of the leadership he brings to the table and the lifestyle he lives,” Vote said. “He’s an example of the kind of leadership we want in our program. He definitely shows the direction of where we’re going, and he’s going to be a huge asset to us.”

The El Reno, Okla., native collected 92 wins while wrestling at 125 pounds in three seasons for Buena Vista, where Vote spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach. Mogg finished fifth in his weight class at the 2010 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships and earned All-American status.

As a prep at El Reno High School in Oklahoma, Mogg secured top-three individual finishes all four years while competing at 125 pounds. The 5-foot-6 grappler won the 125-pound title his senior season, following second-place finishes as a freshman and as a junior.

New wrestling room sees first action

02 OCT 2012

By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director

To watch video from Monday's practice, visit the Concordia Bulldogs' YouTube channel at youtube.com/concordiabulldogs.

Monday marked the first day of a new era in Bulldog wrestling for a number of reasons. First-year head coach Dana Vote began his implementation of a rigorous, high-energy practice philosophy inside the confines of a shiny, new facility. Located within the renovated PE Building, the freshly-minted wrestling room housed its first official practice on Monday.

“This facility is huge for our program,” Vote said following practice. “It’s a step in the right direction in going towards that national title that we always want to get. This is definitely the first step. It shows the commitment that the school has in the program. The guys are loving it. We’ve got a place to train and things are going well.”

The addition of the wrestling room was part of the PE Building renovation project that began this past summer. The overhaul also saw the installation of an equipment room, athletic training room, weight room, athletics staff offices and more classrooms.

With the wrestling room now complete, Concordia boasts one of the finest wrestling practice facilities in the NAIA.

“I haven’t seen a nicer facility personally,” senior wrestler Brandon Starkey said. “It’s a 1,000 times better than what we had last year. It was just a gym. It’s nice having our own place every day.”

Fellow senior Jordan Fowlkes echoed Starkey’s comments and added that the facility upgrades will give the Bulldogs a competitive advantage.

“It’s great. It gives us a lot of opportunity to do more things than we could before,” Fowlkes said. “I feel more like a team now that we’re in our own spot, in a more enclosed area. I think it’s going to give us a good edge on our opponents this year, being able to be closer together.”

The Bulldogs went all out on day one of practice in the area that was formerly home to a swimming pool. Practice featured prolonged periods of intense grappling and conditioning, part of Vote’s plan to build champions on and off the mat. Vote, most recently the top assistant at NCAA Division III Buena Vista University, continuously preaches the “championship lifestyle.”

“We stress on a daily basis just doing the right things, living that championship lifestyle,” Vote said. “That means doing the right things on the mat. Doing the right things in the classroom. Doing the right things in your social life and just making sure every day you are doing what you are supposed to do to get better and working towards that championship.”

In order to become champions, Vote believes that his team must be in better condition than the opposition. Starkey, an NAIA National Championships qualifier at 149 pounds last season, has noticed considerable change already, even with just one practice in the books.

“I’m tired every day,” Starkey said of the team’s preseason workouts. “He pushes us to the limit every day and if we’re not pushing as hard as we can, he knows it.”

Vote took to the mat himself, going head-to-head with Fowlkes for a good portion of Monday’s practice. Vote, a Gilmore City, Iowa, native, lettered twice as a wrestler at Buena Vista during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.

Despite a roster that contains only 15 names, Fowlkes and company are striving for success on a national stage.

“I believe we can become a top-10 team,” Fowlkes said. “I know we have low numbers, but we’ve got some good depth. I think we can put ourselves near the top and be recognized as being one of the best in the nation.”

Vote believes Monday’s first practice inside the sparkling new wrestling room was simply the start of something big.

“These guys have heart here. We’re fighting,” Vote said. “They know where we want to go and where the coaches want to go with the program and they’re buying in and they’re doing the right things. They haven’t had the success that they need to have yet, but we’re heading in that direction.”

Wrestling program to hold clinic for grades K-12

08 OCT 2012

Head coach Dana Vote and the Bulldog wrestling program will hold a fall clinic for grades K-12 on Sunday, Nov. 4 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  The three-hour clinic will take place inside the brand new wrestling room within the renovated PE Building. The cost is $25 for those who pre-register and $30 for those who choose to pay at the door. Team rates are also available for those who call ahead.

For more information and to register for the Bulldog fall wrestling clinic, click HERE. Coach Vote can also be reached at 402-643-7238 or at Dana.Vote@cune.edu for further details.

2012-13 wrestling season preview

07 NOV 2012

At a glance
2011-12 Finish: 3-3 in GPAC duals (T-third); 19th place at NAIA National Championships; ranked No. 17 in postseason coaches’ poll
Head Coach: Dana Vote (first year)
Key Returners: Jordan Fowlkes (125); Alex Stepanek (141); Brandon Starkey (149); Alfredo Torres (174); Seth Crane (184); Dillon Heesch (285); Frank Ayala (285)
Key Losses: Adam Joseph (133); Jacob Williams (141); Julian Silva (197)
Key Newcomers:
-Austin Mogg: 2010 NCAA DIII All-American; 92 career collegiate wins in three seasons at Buena Vista (Iowa)
-Austin Starkey: Three-time Nebraska state high school runner up
2011-12 GPAC All-Conference: Adam Joseph (first team); Jake Williams (first team); Alfredo Torres (second team); Dillon Heesch (second team)
2011-12 NAIA All-America: Joseph; Williams; Julian Silva

A breath of fresh air has been breathed into the Concordia wrestling program, which saw the addition of first-year head coach Dana Vote and a new wrestling practice facility during the offseason. Vote, most recently the top assistant at NCAA Division III Buena Vista University (Iowa), has quickly sought to cultivate a championship attitude and approach in each of his wrestlers.

“The championship lifestyle that we’re preaching here is just doing the right things all the time,” Vote said. “Whether you want to do it or not, do it anyway. That means getting the right amount of sleep, doing the right things in the classroom, doing the right things in the wrestling room.

“Guys are buying in. Our grades are going up from where they were last year. Guys are committing to the practices. Our body fat percentages are going down. You can just see – we look like more fit athletes.”

Vote hopes his program of high-energy practices will allow the Bulldogs to offset some of the roster turnover that included the losses of three All-Americans from a squad that finished 19th as a team at nationals last year. However, seven wrestlers who have National Championships experience are back in the fold for 2012-13.

Headed by senior Brandon Starkey at 149 pounds and junior Dillon Heesch, ranked as the No. 10 heavyweight in the nation at the conclusion of last season, the Bulldogs plan to have several more individuals make a splash on the national stage.

Other former national qualifiers include Alex Stepanek (133), Alfredo Torres (184), Seth Crane (184) and Frank Ayala (285). While the overall numbers are low, the Bulldogs believe the quality of their lineup will allow them to compete in a difficult GPAC field.

“I have big expectations,” Starkey said. “I would like to see us in the top 10 in the nation this year. We might not have a lot of guys, but we’re all good wrestlers and we all work real hard. That’s what it takes.”

Unfortunately, Concordia will likely be without senior standout Jordan Fowlkes (125) this season as he recovers from a neck injury that also sidelined him last year. However, the Bulldogs should be able to fill out the remaining nine spots in the lineup with quality wrestlers, including two who are ranked individually to begin the season: Crane (No. 15 in the NAIA at 184) and Heesch (No. 8 at 285).

Stepanek, a junior from St. Paul, Neb., returns after eclipsing the 20-win mark last season. He is making the transition from 141 last season to 133 this year, opening the door for freshman Chandler Brandert (Adams, Neb.) at 141. Brandert has already shown a lot of improvement in practice, according to Vote.

Starkey serves as the team’s leader and most experienced wrestler at 149. The St. Paul, Neb., native, who has competed in 97 matches as a Bulldog, is expected to be high on the stand by season’s end. Brandon Starkey is joined on this year’s squad by his younger brother in incoming freshman Austin, who was a three-time Nebraska high school state runner up. Austin will compete with junior Martin Dobler for time at 157.

The Starkey sibling rivalry has created an interesting dynamic at practice.

“In high school we were on the same team, but it was a big weight difference,” the elder Starkey said. “We weigh almost the same amount now, and I practice against him a lot. Neither one of us wants to lose to each other so we practice pretty hard.”

Junior Nick Sheppard and sophomore Kale Hintz come in next at 165 and 174, respectively, while Cameron Bruce holds down 197 after a prep career that included two state qualifier appearances in Kansas.

The Bulldogs have the most depth at 184 and 285, with two potential All-Americans at each spot. Vote says both Crane and Torres at 184 have set a great example for the rest of the team through their hard work. At 285, Ayala and Heesch have their sights set on earning a place on the stand come early March after falling short in past seasons. Heesch will first have to overcome injury to get back on the mat.

Concordia begins the season just outside the NAIA Wrestling Coaches' Preseason Top 20 Poll, grouped in the “others receiving votes” category. While conference and national titles may be out of reach this season, Vote plans to take Bulldog wrestling to great heights in a timely fashion.

“We’re hoping that second year we’re competing for that GPAC conference title,” Vote said. “It’s in our grasp. We want to splash onto the national scene in the top five of the country quick. Obviously with facilities like this there’s the opportunity for us to compete for a national title. We have it in our plan and in our system, and that’s what we’re working towards.”

In this his first season at the helm, in only the fourth season of the program’s existence, Vote says his grapplers will focus on enjoying great individual seasons.

“Right now we’re focused on working towards that national title as a team down the road,” Vote said. “We’re focusing on having individual success. Guys are putting in individual workouts. We’re putting plans together for guys and we’re just trying to get the most out of every athlete we can.”

Buena Vista transfer Austin Mogg (133) will make a big impact next season after he redshirts during the 2012-13 campaign. Mogg, who has one season of eligibility left, is a 2010 NCAA Division III All-American with 92 career collegiate victories under his belt. His arrival, along with the determination of the current roster, signals a bright future for Concordia wrestling.

“It shows people that he believes in the coaching system,” Vote said of Mogg’s transfer. “He knew what to expect and he knows where we’re going. He’s excited about it and he’s getting other guys excited about it, too. It’s a huge asset for us.”

The Bulldogs will take to the mat for the first time under Vote at the Swede Open on Saturday. The event, hosted by Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., gets started at 9 a.m. Vote will debut at home on Nov. 29 when Concordia welcomes York College for a dual meet.

Grapplers place four on medal stand

10 NOV 2012

LINDSBORG, Kan. – First-year head coach Dana Vote took his Bulldog wrestling squad into competition for the first time and came away with four individuals who locked down spots on the medal stand at the Swede Open, hosted by Bethany College (Kan.) on Saturday.

Seventeen teams/clubs were represented at Saturday’s open tournament that included several unattached individuals. Highly-ranked NAIA schools such as No. 4 Baker (Kan.), No. 14 Oklahoma City and No. 19 York took part in the event in which no team scores were kept.

Concordia junior Alex Stepanek led the way with a third-place finish at 133, while seniors Frank Ayala (285) and Brandon Starkey (157) and sophomore Seth Crane (184) each carved out fourth place finishes.

 “Stepanek had a great day coming back after an early loss and getting third. He won matches by being flat out tough,” Vote said. “He just out-toughed guys.”

Stepanek, a native of St. Paul, Neb., pinned Anthony Calderon of Fort Hays State in 4:58 after receiving a bye in the first round. Stepanek then shook off a quarterfinal loss to Oak Hill Wrestling Club’s Tony Livengood to win his final four bouts of the day, including a 10-8 decision over York’s Marcus Banducci in the third-place match.

Starkey, a national qualifier last season and St. Paul, Neb., native, began the 2012 season at 157, straying from his customary 149 weight class in which he figures to return to soon. Despite a size disadvantage against several of his competitors, Starkey claimed victories in three of his five bouts.

“Starkey had a good day winning some big matches wrestling up a weight,” Vote said. “He battled through some tough matches to score a lot of points. He went through some adversity to win them.”

Starkey ultimately fell to Oklahoma City’s Mark Meyer (ranked No. 16 in the NAIA at 157) 7-2 in the third place match to close out his day.

Crane, a sophomore from North Platte, Neb., also went 3-2 on the day to claim fourth place. He pinned Oklahoma City’s Cody Sivertsen in a quarterfinal match prior to dropping a 5-0 decision to Baker’s Parker Owen in the third-place match.

Ayala had a similar day at 285. The West Covina, Calif., native won by pin over Baker’s Chris Tackett in a consolation match and then squeaked by York’s Ray Johnson 11-10 to set himself up against Bacone’s Cesar Ponce in the third-place bout. Ponce came away with a 6-2 triumph.

Chandler Brandert (141), Peter Ovens (157), Martin Dobler (157), Nick Sheppard (165), Kale Hintz (174) and Cameron Bruce (197) also took to the mat on Saturday for Concordia. Hintz recorded a pin and a victory by major decision, while Bruce also posted one pin.

Overall, Vote was pleased with the way his team began the 2012-13 season. He said that the Bulldogs exceeded his expectations for the first time out. However, he pointed out that there is plenty of room for improvement.

“We went through some struggles today,” Vote said. “We’re still making some of the same old mistakes. We have to break some habits. We have to get back to working hard and doing the things it takes to win matches.”

The Bulldogs will return to the mat on Saturday, Nov. 17 when they travel to the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open in Kearney, Neb.

Young Starkey highlights UNK Open

17 NOV 2012

KEARNEY, Neb. – Concordia freshman Austin Starkey, wrestling collegiately for the first time, held his own against top-notch competition at Saturday’s University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open. While no Bulldogs made it to the medal stand, Starkey went 2-2 at 157 and took Labette Community College’s Jeromy Davenport (ranked as the No. 2 JUCO at 157) to overtime before falling 6-4.

“Austin was the main highlight for us today,” Concordia head coach Dana Vote said. “He wrestled some real good matches against great competition. His ability to scramble in certain situations really impressed me. If we can get him to turn the corner a little bit more he can make a big impact right away.”

The UNK Open included representatives from 43 different schools, including several quality NAIA programs as well as stout NCAA Division I and II squads. No team scores were kept at the event hosted by Nebraska Kearney, the top-ranked team at the NCAA Division II level. The open tournament featured both elite (mostly juniors and seniors) and amateur (mostly freshmen and sophomores) divisions.

Sophomore Seth Crane (184) took down an NCAA Division I foe in Air Force’s Vance Hawk by an 8-4 score. Crane, who placed fourth at 184 in last week’s Swede Open, completed the day at 1-2.

Freshman Chandler Brandert also picked up a win by topping New Mexico Highlands’ Dan Gaylor 6-2 at 141. Brandert also went 1-2 at the event.

After leading Concordia with a third-place individual finish at last week’s Swede Open, junior Alex Stepanek (133) went 0-2 with losses against University of Wyoming’s Kasey Garnhart by pin and versus Central Oklahoma’s Trison Graham by a 9-2 decision.

While Vote hoped for a little better results, he knew his Bulldogs were up against some of the nation’s top wrestlers.

“We wrestled against tough competition,” Vote said. “It was good to get out early and see what that kind of competition is all about. It shows us where we need to get.

“I expected a little more than we got today. We’re going to have to get back to the room and build upon this. We need to improve our scrambling and cut back on some of the mistakes we continue to make.”

Concordia, listed in the “others receiving votes” category in the preseason coaches’ poll, are off until Nov. 29 when the Bulldogs host 19th-ranked York for their first dual meet of the season. Action will get started at 7 p.m. The Panthers won last year’s meeting 37-15.

No. 17 York spoils Concordia home opening wrestling dual

29 NOV 2012

SEWARD, Neb. – The Bulldogs and first-year head coach Dana Vote struggled to a 36-12 defeat in Concordia’s 2012-13 home opening wrestling dual on Thursday. Visiting and 17th-ranked York College (1-0) spoiled the party by racing out to a 21-0 lead to open the match.

“I think we had a good atmosphere. There were fans here and people got excited,” Vote said. “We were out-matched tonight, but the biggest thing I told the guys from the start is that we have to go out and we’ve got to fight for seven minutes. We’ve got to make them earn those wins, and I think we did it.”

On a night with few individual triumphs for the Bulldogs (0-1), freshman Austin Starkey (3-2) continued to look surprisingly comfortable in only the fifth match of his young collegiate career. The rookie looked like anything but as he scored a 6-4 upset of the NAIA’s fourth-ranked grappler at 157 in the Panthers’ Robert Eklund. Starkey’s decision got Concordia on the board and brought life to the Walz Arena crowd.

“I just went in there knowing what I had to do,” Starkey said. “I just kept working. Coach has been on us that we have to fight in every position and that’s what I did.

“I just had to keep on him and try to wear him out. Coach said we were going to be in better shape than they were so I just kept working on him, and I got him there.”

The young Starkey caught the attention of Vote immediately in practice and burst onto the scene with a great performance at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open on Nov. 17. Starkey built upon his near miss against the second-ranked JUCO in the nation at 157 to pull off Thursday’s stunner.

“It was a huge win for him,” Vote said. “He’s just getting tougher each day. I think he’s going to keep improving. Right now we just have some small adjustments to make and I think he can wrestle with anybody in the country.”

Sophomore Seth Crane recorded the Bulldogs’ only pin of the night when he nailed down York’s Joey Massay at the edge of the mat in 2:36. Crane, a native of North Platte, Neb., who is ranked No. 14 in the NAIA at 184, improved to 5-4 on the season and racked up his second pin.

“Seth is really picking it up in the room,” Vote said. “I think he’s becoming a leader. He’s starting to show his leadership through hard work. It shows on the mat. He’s getting better each day. I think he’s one of the guys that’s really made huge improvements from last year.”

Heavyweight Frank Ayala (5-4) then concluded the night by staving off the Panthers’ Raymond Johnson 5-4, providing Concordia’s final tallies. Ayala, a senior from West Covina, Calif., bounced back admirably after going 0-2 against tough competition at the UNK Open.

Nationally-ranked York, coached by former Concordia assistant Ramon Diaz, brought five ranked wrestlers into Thursday’s competition. Collectively, the Panthers took four of five decisions in those weight classes with pins by sixth-ranked Joshua Lopez at 141 and by 10th-ranked Bradlee Carls at 197.

The lopsided loss leaves the Bulldogs with plenty of things to work on, but Vote is confident his group will get back to the room and get after it.

“I told the guys we have to work on positions – winning the small battles and not giving up easy points,” Vote said. “We have to make guys earn every point they get so we have to make small adjustments, fight the positions. We have to earn the points and we have to win by out-toughing guys.”

Concordia now faces a quick turnaround as it prepares for the Simpson College Invite on Saturday. The action from Indianola, Iowa, will pick up at 9 a.m. Live results will be provided by Track Wrestling.

Ayala's sixth place finish headlines Simpson Invite

01 DEC 2012

INDIANOLA, Iowa – Just two days after hosting their first dual of the 2012-13 season, the Bulldogs were back in action at the 13-team Simpson College Invitational on Saturday. Concordia senior Frank Ayala earned a sixth place finish in the heavyweight bracket to headline the day in Indianola, Iowa. As a team, Concordia finished 10th with 43.0 total points.

The Simpson Invite featured several top NAIA and NCAA Division III teams, including the NAIA’s top-ranked team in Grand View (Iowa), which boasts three No. 1-ranked individuals. NCAA Division III No. 1 Wartburg (Iowa) and No. 4 Coe (Iowa) also took part in the loaded tournament at Simpson College.

“We ran into some tough competition again,” Bulldog head coach Dana Vote said. “It showed our youth and some of the old mistakes that continue to show up. We’re improving and getting better all the time, but we still have a lot more room for improvement.”

Ayala (8-6) took sixth place thanks to consecutive victories in the consolation bracket at 285. Following a 6-2 win over Coe’s Cory Becker in his first match, Ayala was sent to consolation round two after being pinned by Grand View’s Eric Thompson in 1:35.

But the West Covina, Calif., native rebounded with a pin of North Iowa Area Community College’s Alex Stockton in 4:07 and then a 3-1 overtime decision over Glenn Cothren of Iowa Lakes Community College. Ayala then lost his final bout by an 8-3 score to Central Missouri’s Zotaih Tuaquoi with a trip to the consolation final match on the line. The sixth place finish marks Ayala’s second tournament placing this season on the heels of a fourth place finish at the Swede Open on Nov. 10.

“Frank’s improving each day,” Vote said. “We also know that he has a long ways to go, but he is certainly making good strides. He’s a guy who can keep on improving.”

Freshman Austin Starkey (6-4) won three of his five matches on the day at 157. He picked up a pair of major decisions and pinned Coe’s Dylan McLaughlin in 2:24 for the second pin of his young collegiate career.

Bulldog junior Seth Crane (184) pushed his season mark to 7-6 by splitting his four matches at the Simpson Invite. He put forth perhaps his most impressive performance in a 4-2 defeat up against Basil Minto of North Iowa Area Community College. Minto went on to capture the individual title at 184.

A total of nine wrestlers represented Concordia in competition on Saturday. Alex Stepanek (133), Chandler Brandert (141) and Kale Hintz (174) also recorded at least one victory apiece on the day. The Bulldogs’ eight pins were the fifth most among the 13 teams at the Invite.

Grand View posted a team title at the event with 223.5 points compared to 158.5 for second place Wartburg.

Vote will return to his alma mater next Saturday as the Bulldogs compete in the Buena Vista University Open in Storm Lake, Iowa. The action will begin at 9 a.m.

Brandon Starkey places fifth at Buena Vista Open

08 DEC 2012

STORM LAKE, Iowa – Head coach Dana Vote brought the Bulldogs back to his alma mater on Saturday as part of the Buena Vista University Open in Storm Lake, Iowa. Senior Brandon Starkey emerged from the dust with a fifth-place finish while wrestling for the first time this season at 149. Both junior Alex Stepanek (133) and senior Frank Ayala (285) dropped fifth-place bouts of their own en route to claiming sixth place.

The tournament field included representatives from NAIA No. 1 Grand View (Iowa), No. 6 Morningside, No. 16 Midland, No. 20 York, (RV) Northwestern, (RV) William Penn (Iowa), (RV) Central Baptist (Ark.), Briar Cliff and NCAA schools Augustana (S.D.), Northwest Missouri, Southwest Minnesota State, Wayne State and host Buena Vista. No team scores were kept.

Starkey, who entered the day with a record of 3-4 at 157, placed at a tournament for the second time this season and for the 11th time in his career by winning four matches on the day, including a 4-2 decision over Morningside’s Taylor Phipps in his final competition of the day. He began the day by breezing past Briar Cliff’s Evan Lynn 16-1 for a technical fall victory before taking down Midland’s Nick Schroeder (8-7) and William Penn’s Lane Colwell (9-2) in the consolation bracket.

Stepanek, a St. Paul, Neb., native nearly fought his way to the finals of the consolation bracket before falling in a narrow 2-1 decision to Central Baptist’s Antonia Rivera in the fifth-place match. Stepanek pushed his season win total to 12 by grabbing five more wins on Saturday. He defeated a host of conference opponents in Morningside’s Carter Tegeler (pin; 3:45), Briar Cliff’s Albert Voss (pin; 4:43) and Hunter Langley (pin; 4:11) and Northwestern’s Richard Ortiz (6-4).

Ayala remained in the championship bracket by scoring pins over his first two opponents in Midland’s Micah Kekela (3:22) and Buena Vista’s Gable Bonner (3:52) before getting bounced to the consolation bracket. Like Stepanek, Ayala lost by a single point (1-0) in the fifth-place bout in which Briar Cliff’s Brian Ervin served as the opponent.

A total of nine wrestlers represented Concordia at the event with seven of the nine winning at least one match on the day. Overall, Bulldog wrestlers went 18-20 with 10 pins and one win by technical fall. Chandler Brandert (141), who went 3-2 with a pair of pins on the day, and Austin Starkey (157), who went 2-2 with one pin, joined Brandon Starkey, Ayala and Stepanek as Concordia grapplers with multiple wins at Buena Vista.

GPAC wrestlers who claimed individual crowns included Briar Cliff’s Joseph Weber (149), Midland’s Sterling Terry (157), Morningside’s Rulin Pederson (174), Midland’s Kolton Kersten (197) and Morningside’s Tyler Kacmarynski (285).

Concordia is back on the road next Saturday when it will compete at the Raven Duals hosted by Benedictine College (Kan.). The event will get started at 9 a.m. in Atchison, Kan.

Bulldog wrestling competes at Raven Duals

15 DEC 2012

ATCHISON, Kan. – Concordia grapplers competed at the first-ever Raven Duals on Saturday at Benedictine College’s Ralph Nolan Gymnasium. The Bulldogs won their first match of the day before taking their lumps against quality opponents in the final three dual meets in Atchison, Kan.

Concordia defeated NJCAA Northwest Kansas Technical College 33-19 in a bout that began at 8 a.m. The Bulldogs then fell 30-9 to NAIA Wayland Baptist (Texas), 47-0 to NCAA Division II Fort Hays State (Kan.) and 33-7 to NAIA No. 13-ranked Missouri Baptist to conclude the event. All three losses came to teams either ranked or receiving votes in the national rankings.

Senior Brandon Starkey (149), freshman Austin Starkey (157) and sophomore Seth Crane (184) each went 2-2 on the day to lead the Bulldogs. With his two triumphs, Austin Starkey reached the 10-win plateau for the season, while Brandon Starkey and Crane both have nine victories.

The Raven Duals also featured NAIA No. 6 Morningside, No. 20 York (Neb.), host (RV) Benedictine (Kan.), (RV) Central Baptist (Ark.) and (RV) Truett-McConnell (Ga.).

Complete individual results for the Raven Duals are unavailable at this time.

Concordia is now idle until Jan. 10 when Briar Cliff visits Seward for a 7 p.m. GPAC-opening dual.

Bulldog grapplers taken down in GPAC opener

10 JAN 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Four Bulldog wrestlers notched individual wins on Thursday night despite visiting Briar Cliff coming away with a 30-12 victory. The dual marked the GPAC opener for head coach Dana Vote’s grapplers, who claimed individual victories at 141, 157, 165 and 174.

“Frank Ayala avenged a loss to a kid that beat him right before Christmas so that was a big win for him. He’s looked good since Christmas break,” Vote said. “(Alex) Stepanek had a good match at 141, moving up a weight class and proving right away he can wrestle there. I’m satisfied with the way those two wrestled.”

Stepanek, a junior who wrestled at 133 in his first 25 matches this season, moved up to 141 to take on the Chargers’ Devin DeRocher. Stepanek, a native of St. Paul, Neb., controlled the match from start to finishing taking a 2-0 lead after his first period takedown and then a 4-0 lead at the end of two periods with a reversal. Stepanek (13-13) finished with a 7-2 victory, with a point added for riding time.

“I didn’t know what to expect going in. I just bumped up weight classes this week with a difference in strength,” Stepanek said. “The good thing for me is that he actually is a 133-pounder but bumped up for this dual.

“I felt good going in, more energy. There was one spot where he got the points that I wasn’t feeling too good right there, but otherwise I felt like was doing great the whole match.”

With Concordia trailing 18-3 after four matches, the Starkey brothers claimed the next two victories at 157 and 165 for the Bulldogs. Brandon (157) got an early takedown of the Chargers’ Aaron Largey and then added to his lead with an escape and a takedown in the second period for a 5-1 advantage. The St. Paul, Neb., native got one more takedown in the final period for a 7-2 triumph, his 10th of the season and 63rd of his career.

Brandon’s younger brother Austin faced a 7-2 first period deficit in his bout with Dillon Freeman at 165. Austin came back to within 7-6 at the end of the second period before scoring a pair of takedowns in the third period that allowed for an 11-11 tie. Starkey completed a 13-11 overtime win to move to 11-8 on the season.

“Austin Starkey has all kinds of talent,” Vote said. “He can compete with anyone. He’s just got to get his mind straight and go out and compete. Just be a little more consistent is the big thing with him. We know he can compete with anyone in the country. We’ve just got to get him to do it on a daily basis.”

Concordia fell behind 30-9 going into the heavyweight match in which the Bulldogs’ Ayala shook off a defeat to the Chargers’ Brian Ervin earlier this season for a better result this time around. The Concordia senior from West Covina, Calif., took a 6-4 decision on Thursday thanks to a reversal and a takedown in the third period following a 2-2 tie at the conclusion of two periods. Ayala improved to 11-14 on the season.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs suffered back-to-back close losses at 174 and 184 where Nick Sheppard and Kale Hintz both fell by just two points. Hintz’s loss came by a 6-4 score in overtime when Briar Cliff’s Dan Harvey ended the match with a takedown.

Concordia won four of the eight bouts that were contested. The Bulldogs had open weights at 125 and 133.

Briar Cliff’s Joseph Weber (149) and Jordan Watkins (197) recorded the only two pins on the night.

For Vote, the improvements his team must make are clear.

“We definitely need to improve on putting things together. We’re hitting one move and we’re stopping,” Vote said. “We’re not continuing to wrestle in positions. That’s where we’re continuing to struggle. We’re definitely competing for seven minutes. That’s where we’re improving.”

The Bulldogs are back in action on Saturday at the Quality Hotel Open hosted by Hastings College. The individual bracket-style event will get started at 9 a.m. Concordia will return to Walz Arena on Jan. 17 when it welcomes Northwestern to Seward for another GPAC dual.

Ayala, Brandon Starkey land on medal stand in Hastings

12 JAN 2013

HASTINGS, Neb. – The Bulldogs got back on the mat Saturday at the Quality Hotel Open in Hastings, Neb., two days after a 30-12 GPAC-opening defeat to Briar Cliff. Concordia seniors Frank Ayala and Brandon Starkey headlined the day as Ayala placed third and Starkey fourth in an event that featured wrestlers from a variety of levels, including NCAA Division I.

Starkey capped the day with a record of 4-2, earning two sudden victories and a pin of Hastings’ Mike Ganny in 4:41 to get the third-place match. That’s where Starkey fell 13-6 to University of Nebraska-Kearney’s Colton Johnson. Starkey’s fourth-place finish marked his third tournament placement this season and the 12th in his solid Bulldog career.

At 285, Ayala took a 3-1 decision over Bethany’s (Kan.) Tyler Smith and pinned Buena Vista’s Gable Bonner in 2:56 to get to the third-place bout. The West Covina, Calif., native squared off with Smith again and recorded a sudden victory to notch his team-leading fourth tournament placement of the season.

Austin Starkey continued a fine freshman campaign by posting wins over competitors from Augustana and Arizona State as he finished the day at 2-2.

A total of eight Bulldogs competed on the day at the Quality Hotel Open with five wrestlers grabbing at least one victory. On the day Concordia grapplers totaled 11 victories, three by falls. Stepanek, Brandon Starkey and Ayala each recorded one pin apiece.

Three Concordia wrestlers are now tied for the team lead with 14 wins. Ayala (14-15), Brandon Starkey (14-10) and Stepanek (14-14) are deadlocked for that distinction.

The Bulldogs will host their second GPAC dual on Thursday, Jan. 17 when they welcome Northwestern to Seward. The action will begin at 7 p.m. inside Walz Arena and will be webcast live via the Concordia Sports Network.

Brandon Starkey upset keys GPAC dual victory for Bulldogs

17 JAN 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia senior Brandon Starkey was given the option: wrestle at his customary 157 weight class or move up to 165 and take on Northwestern’s top grappler in seventh-ranked Zach Fishman. Starkey, not one to back down from a challenge, chose the latter and wound up with a dominant upset victory to carry the Bulldogs to a 24-19 dual win over conference foe Northwestern inside Walz Arena on Thursday.

The elder Starkey started out slow in falling behind 2-1 after the first period. The fireworks started soon after as the St. Paul, Neb., native notched three second-period takedowns to pull in front 7-4. Playing the role of aggressor, Starkey went for three more takedowns in the final stanza en route to a 13-6 win, just short of a major decision.

“I can’t even explain how proud I am of how he wrestled tonight,” Vote said. “It was probably the best match anyone on our team has wrestled all year. He just attacked, attacked. He broke the guy. He almost majored him at the end. It was domination.”

For Starkey, who improved to 15-10 on the season, his philosophy was simple. With Fishman on his heels, Starkey pounced like a shark getting a whiff of blood in the water.

“I just kept pressure on him,” Starkey said. “My shots and everything were just working tonight. I just kept opening up and feeling more comfortable and more comfortable. Next thing I knew I was winning, and I won.”

For Vote, a first-year head coach, it’s his first dual victory at the helm of the Bulldogs.

“It feels good getting a conference dual win in the GPAC,” Vote said. “We had some tough matches tonight. We knew coming in it was a dual we had a chance to win. We just had to fight. The guys did a great job.”

Even with Starkey’s surprise win at 165, Concordia trailed 15-9 and needed more big performances. Junior Alex Stepanek relinquished a 6-1 lead before scoring a third period takedown and adding a point for riding time to secure a 9-6 win over the Red Raiders’ Nathan Manfull at 141. Bulldog junior Martin Dobler then used a late escape to squeak out a 3-2 decision over Roger Fender at 149 to put Concordia within 12-6.

After Brandon’s brother Austin fell 13-6 to John Lynch at 157, Brandon began a run of three-consecutive victories for the Bulldogs. Concordia junior Nick Sheppard (174) rallied back from an 8-4 deficit to eke out an 11-10 decision thanks to a point for riding time.

That set the stage for the only pin of the night with Concordia’s Kale Hintz (184) stepping onto the mat against Northwestern’s Luis Rivera-Santiago. Hintz led 5-4 after the first period and held a 9-6 advantage when he wiped out Rivera-Santiago in 4:48 to claim his fourth pin of the season.

Hintz’s pin staked the Bulldogs to an 18-15 lead and clinched the match with the Red Raiders having an open weight at 285, where Frank Ayala got credit for his 15th victory of the campaign.

“We had a lot of good matches. A lot of kids were working really hard out there,” Brandon Starkey said. “We had a couple close ones and a pin, which was really good. Everybody really went out there with a game plan and it seemed to work for us tonight.”

Vote’s Bulldogs showed vast improvement in comparison to their GPAC dual with Briar Cliff one week ago. Vote especially liked the toughness and resiliency his team showed in coming back from early deficits.

“Guys just wrestled tough,” Vote said. “We talked about it before the dual. It’s an attitude. We just got to fight for seven minutes and out-tough these guys and we did it. Three of the matches that we won we were down at one point in the match. We just kept coming back.

“Kale Hintz was losing and came back and got a pin. Sheppard was losing and came back and got a win at the end. And right away Brandon was getting controlled. Their guy got the first takedown and doubled him right away. We just kept battling, battling, battling. Great job tonight.”

Concordia will step outside the GPAC for a rematch at No. 19 York at 7 p.m. on Jan. 24. The Panthers picked up a 36-12 win at Walz Arena on Nov. 29.

Sheppard's pin provides highlight in dual loss

24 JAN 2013

YORK, Neb. – Concordia junior Nick Sheppard continued his impressive run of late by pinning York’s Joe Massey in 6:18 at Thursday night’s dual in York, Neb. The Bulldogs won four of the seven contested matches over the host Panthers before York ultimately secured a 29-21 victory at the Freeman Center.

“I think we wrestled tough,” Concordia head coach Dana Vote said. “I said going into the dual we weren’t worried about team score. We were worried about winning more matches than them. We wanted to come out with at least four victories and we did that.”

Sheppard, who had wrestled at either 165 or 174 all season, moved up to 184 on Thursday. Massey took a 3-0 lead into the third period after gaining three near fall points in the second period. Sheppard, a native of Engelwood, Colo., then stunned the home crowd with a sudden strike that eliminated Massey with :42 left in the final period.

“I keep my mindset positive and keep going with the punches,” Sheppard said. “I rely on my physical stamina. I’ve got to credit the coaches with that. I feel like I just wear guys out and find openings to capitalize on.”

With the victory, Sheppard picked up his second-consecutive dual win following last week’s 11-10 decision over Northwestern’s Yutaka Rodriguez at 174.

“The biggest thing with him is continued to wrestle,” Vote said. “That’s what I stress to my guys – seven minutes. Just continue to wrestle for seven minutes. We knew coming in these guys were going to get tired. He just had to keep forcing it and he ended up getting the win.”

Senior Brandon Starkey also picked up where he left off from last Thursday’s team dual triumph over Northwestern. He moved back to his customary 157-pound weight class against York and squeaked out a 4-3 decision over Bryan Magno. Starkey (16-10) came back from a modest 2-1 deficit after the first period to nab his seventh win in his last nine matches.

Faced with a 12-0 team deficit, Alex Stepanek (16-15) got the Bulldogs on the board at 141 with an impressive 7-1 decision over Wes Negley. Stepanek controlled the match throughout and tacked on a point for riding time. In doing so, the native of St. Paul, Neb., avenged a loss to York in the Nov. 29 dual when he fell 9-0 to A.J. Jaramillo.

Senior Frank Ayala (16-15) notched Concordia’s last win of the night in the heavyweight bout. Just like the first time around in a dual meet against York’s Raymond Johnson, this match went down to the wire. Ayala just looked to hold position as the third period buzzer sounded, giving the West Covina, Calif., native an 8-7 decision. Ayala, who lost to Johnson in their most recent battle, defeated his York counterpart 5-4 back on Nov. 29.

“Those guys are doing a great job,” Vote said of Ayala, Starkey and Stepanek. “Frank got beat by him the last time they wrestled. Johnson’s been ranked pretty high. That was a big win for confidence for Frank. Him and Brandon have just been huge leaders for the program as far as stepping out in duals and getting wins. Stepanek has been the same way. These guys just keep working each day.”

Sheppard, who is glad to be back on the mat after missing a large portion of this season with an injury, complimented his teammates for their hard work in the wrestling room. That devotion to the “championship lifestyle” has turned into better results despite a roster low in numbers.

“I’ve got to give credit to all my teammates,” Sheppard said. “I see them all in the room. They bust it as hard as they can. They’re a lot of the reason I’m doing so good right now, because they push me. They’re out there fighting win or lose and I’ve just got to give them respect.”

York’s 16th-ranked Nicholas Clarke was a runaway winner by technical fall at 149 over Martin Dobler. The Panthers got pins from Kyle Wichman at 165 and by Bradlee Carls, who clinched the dual win with a fall in 1:34 against Cameron Bruce at 197.

Concordia hits the mats for what Vote believes will be his team’s most difficult challenge all season on at the Grand View Open on Saturday. The field includes host and NAIA No. 1-ranked Grand View as well as individuals from NCAA Division I squads like Iowa, Iowa State and Nebraska. Action in Des Moines will begin at 9 a.m. Live results will be available at TrackWrestling.com.

Grapplers face top-notch competition in Des Moines

26 JAN 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Bulldogs went up against perhaps their stiffest competition all season at Saturday’s Grand View Open in Des Moines, Iowa. Senior Brandon Starkey turned in the best day amongst the nine grapplers that head coach Dana Vote took to central Iowa to compete.

The Bulldogs tested their mettle against individuals from NCAA Division I schools like Illinois State, Missouri, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa and Wisconsin and NAIA No. 1-ranked Grand View. Considering the loaded field, Concordia competed admirably.

Two of the Bulldogs’ three wins on the day came against NCAA Division I foes. Wrestling at 157, Brandon Starkey came up with a 5-3 decision over Missouri’s Patrick Whitener. At 141, junior Alex Stepanek seized a 2-0 decision over Illinois’ State’s Kyle Carstens.

The other win belonged to heavyweight Frank Ayala, who recorded the team’s only fall of the day when he pinned Hannibal-LaGrange’s Mike Wright in 6:05.

Ayala, Starkey and Stepanek each ended up getting eliminated from their respective brackets in their matches immediately following victories. All ended up bowing out in the consolation rounds.

Concordia will now have four GPAC duals before heading to Fremont, Neb., for regionals on Feb. 16. The Bulldogs will dual both No. 17 Dakota Wesleyan and No. 7 Morningside on Tuesday in Fremont. Concordia’s final home match of the season will be held Feb. 7 when Hastings visits Walz Arena.

Bulldogs drop two duals to ranked GPAC foes

29 JAN 2013

FREMONT, Neb. – Head coach Dana Vote’s grapplers went up against a pair of top 20-ranked conference opponents on Tuesday at a triangular that took place at Midland University. In the afternoon GPAC dual, Concordia fell 28-15 against No. 17 Dakota Wesleyan. A few hours later the Bulldogs were upended 43-6 by the day’s host – No. 13 Midland. Concordia’s conference dual mark dropped to 1-3.

In the day’s first match, the Bulldogs got on the board at 141 where Alex Stepanek took a 7-4 decision over the Tigers’ Karl Bell for his fourth-straight victory in dual meets. With the win, the junior from St. Paul, Neb., edged over the .500 mark at the time with a record of 18-17.

Following five-straight victories at 149 through 184 for Dakota Wesleyan, freshman Cameron Bruce came through with a pin of Jade Hoisington at 197. With the wipe out of Hoisington, Bruce recorded his third pin of the season.

Senior Frank Ayala completed the match against the Tigers by grabbing a win by forfeit for his 18th victory of the season to tie Stepanek for the team lead. Ayala then went toe-to-toe with highly-ranked Lonnie Brown of Midland in the final bout of the day. Brown, ranked as the No. 9 heavyweight in the NAIA, appeared on his heels at times and even briefly fell behind 5-4 before regaining control to take a 13-8 decision.

However, the Warriors overmatched the Bulldogs for most of the evening until Kale Hintz fought back at 174. Hintz fell behind 8-0 after the first period and seemed to be in danger of losing by technical fall. That’s when the tide quickly turned and Hintz took advantage of the opportunity to nail Midland’s Asaiah Dyer to the mat for a pin after 3:28 had elapsed. It was Hintz’s eighth win of the season and his fifth by fall.

Stepanek fell short of his bid for a fifth-consecutive victory in duals when he was clipped 5-2 by Jacob Luning-Hoshino of the Warriors. Brandon Starkey (157) also had an opportunity in both of his decisions on the day, which included a 13-10 loss to Trever DeVestern and a 4-0 defeat to No. 14 Tyler McMichael of Midland.

The Bulldogs continue a daunting week of matches against ranked conference opponents when they battle No. 7 Morningside in Sioux City, Iowa, at 6 p.m. on Friday. The Mustangs, 9-4 overall (3-0 GPAC) in dual meets this season, are the highest-rated squad in the GPAC.

Concordia beaten in dual at No. 7 Morningside

01 FEB 2013

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Seventh-ranked Morningside showed why it is the highest ranked team in the GPAC by dismissing the Bulldogs, 41-3, in Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday. The Mustangs, who possess eight ranked individuals, flexed their muscles with four pins and won seven of the eight contested matches. Concordia now owns dual records of 2-9 overall and 1-4 in the GPAC.

Freshman Austin Starkey provided Bulldog fans something to cheer about with his 8-5 decision over junior Jordan Langley of Morningside at 157. Starkey took control of the match early on by maneuvering for a quick takedown and three back points in just a few-second span. He found himself in danger of being pinned in the second period but rolled through the hold of Langley for a reversal. Starkey tacked on a point for riding time and improved to 14-14 on the season.

The Starkey victory was sandwiched in between dominant bouts by the powerful Mustangs (10-4, 4-0 GPAC). Morningside’s No. 9 Kevin Olson (141), Nate Taylor (149), Chris Bridgeford (197) and John Sievert (285) each recorded a fall on the night. The quartet powered Morningside to 40-plus team points for the third time in a dual this season.

Nick Sheppard came the closest to nabbing Concordia’s second win of the night. The junior from Englewood, Colo., wrestled to a 0-0 draw after the first period before falling behind in the second. Sheppard never did get on the scoreboard in a 4-0 loss as he was aiming for his fourth win of the season.

The Bulldogs host Hastings on Thursday, Feb. 7 in what will be the final home and conference dual of the season. Concordia all-time wins leader Brandon Starkey (70) will be honored as part of senior day festivities along with heavyweight Frank Ayala. The action will get started at 7 p.m. as head coach Dana Vote’s grapplers look to finish strong before heading to Fremont, Neb., for regionals on Feb. 16.

Hastings tops Concordia in pin-a-thon

07 FEB 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Visiting Hastings spoiled Concordia’s senior day by cruising to victory in a GPAC dual that lasted just over 30 minutes. The Broncos (6-11, 3-3 GPAC) posted five pins and a major decision on the way to a 52-6 win over the Bulldogs (2-10, 1-5 GPAC) inside Walz Arena on Thursday.

Concordia senior Frank Ayala went out in style in his final appearance at Walz Arena. The heavyweight from West Covina, Calif., fell behind Hastings’ Pat Mattfeld 4-1 early on, but quickly turned the tide with a powerful move that sent Mattfeld to his back. Ayala wiped Mattfeld out in 2:15 to pick up his sixth win by fall on the season while improving to 19-19 overall.

“He came out with a jab that I wasn’t ready for,” Ayala said. “But I continued to wrestle and I was able to stick him.”

Ayala, Concordia’s leader in wins this season, was thankful for the chance throughout his career to compete in the Bulldog singlet.

“It was a great opportunity. It’s bittersweet,” Ayala said. “I’m sad I’m leaving the program, but I’m glad I got to come and experience Concordia and all the great people here. I’m just glad I had this opportunity.”

Fellow seniors Brandon Starkey and Jordan Fowlkes were acknowledged along with Ayala prior to the dual for their contributions to the program. Fowlkes has been sidelined all season by injuries while Starkey sat out on Thursday as well. Starkey, the program’s all-time wins leader with 70 for his career, is expected to be back for the national qualifier as he makes another run at a national championships appearance.

The Bulldogs could have used the services of Starkey against an aggressive Bronco bunch. Nationally-ranked grapplers Blake Fruchtl (No. 7 at 141) and Jared Leithead (No. 10 at 149) came in and took care of business quickly. Both registered first-period falls as Hastings poured it on.

The only contested match that did not result in a pin occurred at 157 where the Broncos’ Connor Blanco won by major decision (11-3) over Austin Starkey after tacking on a point for riding time.

The Bulldogs have finished the regular-season slate and now look forward to qualifying action on Feb. 16 in Fremont, Neb. The top four finishers from each weight class at regionals will advance to the National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, March 1-2. Concordia currently has three wrestlers ranked in the North qualifying group: Brandon Starkey (No. 6 at 157), Kale Hintz (No. 6 at 174) and Ayala (No. 3 at 285).

For Ayala, the goal is not only to simply qualify for nationals, but to finish off his collegiate wrestling career with a splash.

“My goal is to place first so I get a good seed at nationals,” Ayala said. “Hopefully I qualify, but I just want to go out and wrestle tough. We have this week off so I’m just going to practice hard with my coaches and my teammates and see what happens at regionals.”

Freshman Austin Starkey (14-15) and junior Alex Stepanek (18-20) also figure to be in competition for top-four finishes in their respective weights among North qualifying group participants.

Starkey brothers bring stability to Bulldog wrestling

14 FEB 2013

By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director

With the first season in the history of Concordia wrestling getting underway in 2009, the program needed solid competitors who could pave the way for future success. Enter Brandon Starkey, an accomplished high school grappler from St. Paul, Neb. With him, Starkey brought a family background that emphasized the sport from an early age.

Three years later, that connection sent younger brother Austin to the program. Both arrived at Concordia, products of the teaching of their father Mark, a longtime youth and high school coach in St. Paul, located about 90 miles to the northwest of Seward.

“I really wanted what was best for him, but I kind of tried to push this as far as I could and get him to come here,” Brandon said of his brother’s recruitment.

Both got their start in wrestling at three or four years of age, schooled in the fundamentals by their biggest influence in the sport – their father. They went after each other in the confines of the household much like any young brothers. Of course the older, bigger brother always had the upper hand.

Austin learned in part by observing Brandon at area tournaments. Both became hooked on wrestling, well-versed on its many intricacies as a passion for the sport brewed almost from their first breaths.

“I started really early with my dad being a youth head coach,” Austin said. “I started out there and would always go watch Brandon wrestle, so I was just kind of born into it.”

Both Starkeys will enter Saturday’s North Qualifying Group Tournament in Fremont, Neb., hoping to make a splash on the mat. Brandon, ranked No. 6 in the North at 157, has qualified for nationals in each of his first three seasons and carries school records for wins (70), matches wrestled (128) and tournament place finishes (12). Austin has gone 14-15 in his first collegiate season. Both will compete at 157 pounds on Saturday.

Brandon, known for his hard work in the practice room, continues to provide a strong example for Austin and the rest of the team as it focuses on its most important part of the schedule. The senior’s experience within the program and consistent effort have been critical for head coach Dana Vote as he builds up Bulldog wrestling.

“He’s a great guy to have on the team being a first year coach,” Vote said. “He’s a guy who has an outstanding work ethic and great leadership. He brings a lot to the table. You know with Brandon he’s going to give total effort every day.”

Austin says that his brother’s work ethic is one of the most important things he’s tried to pick up on.

“He always makes myself work and pushes me hard,” Austin said. “It’s never something I’ve enjoyed doing so it’s really been helpful. He’s also taught me to not ever quit, just keep fighting through it all.”

The quality time in the practice room has allowed both to compete with top opponents throughout this season. Austin enjoyed a major breakthrough in his first career bout in a dual meet when he upset then No. 4-ranked Robert Eklund of York (6-4) at 157 on Nov. 29. Brandon went up a weight to 165 on Jan. 17 and nearly recorded a major decision (13-6) when he defeated seventh-ranked Zach Fishman of Northwestern.

These great moments in the 2012-13 season surely had the entire Starkey family pulsating with pride. The Starkeys, including Mark and his wife Brenda, are some of the most ardent supporters of Bulldog wrestling. As Vote put it, “You can always count on the whole family being at every meet.”

This support has been a key to the development of Austin and Brandon, both athletically and as human beings. Brandon credits his father for always being available to help him get the most out of his talents.

“He’s always there to help me out and listen to me,” Brandon said. “If I ever need anything extra after practice he was always willing to work with me and help me with any problems I had.”

The siblings also work together to make advancements in each other’s wrestling careers. They talk after meets about things that went well and things that need to be worked on. During practice they sometimes spar against each other, providing a chance for an intense brother rivalry to bud even more.

“It gets pretty heated,” Austin says of their bouts in practice. “We understand it’s going to get that way. After practice we just kind of let it go and leave it be.”

That fiery competition yields a deeper admiration among them. So much so that Brandon, his career nearing an end, is rooting for Austin to put forth an even more impressive run in the Bulldog singlet.

“It’s kind of the same thing like when I was a senior in high school,” Brandon said. “Everybody asked me, ‘Is he going to break your records?’ Records are meant to be broken. If someone is going to break them, it might as well be my brother. I hope he outdoes me here.”

If Austin progresses the way Vote believes possible, Brandon may get his wish.

“I think the sky’s the limit for Austin,” Vote said. “He’s got a lot of potential. He’s got a good feel for wrestling. I think being an All-American is not out of reach for him.”

Brandon will soon move on from Concordia and hopes to put his exercise science degree to use at chiropractic school in either St. Louis or Kansas City, while keeping wrestling close to his life.

Even with Brandon’s departure after this season and even after Austin finishes his career in 2016, the Starkey legacy will endure. The two have served as bright spots for a program working its way toward greatness while still in its infancy.

Concordia grapplers fall short in bid for nationals

16 FEB 2013

FREMONT, Neb. – Senior Brandon Starkey came up short in his bid to earn a berth in the NAIA National Championships for the fourth-consecutive year. Individuals needed to finish in the top four of their respective weight classes in qualifying action or receive an at-large invite in order to compete at nationals. Concordia’s 11 grapplers combined for four wins at Saturday’s North Qualifying Group Tournament in Fremont, Neb.

Brandon Starkey went head-to-head with younger brother Austin in round two of the consolation bracket at 157 pounds. The elder Starkey squeaked out a 5-4 decision to claim sibling bragging rights. Brandon was then eliminated in round three when Jamestown’s (N.D.) Jaykob Miller took an 11-5 decision over the St. Paul, Neb., native.

Peter Ovens picked up a nice win at the North Qualifier after taking his lumps throughout his freshman season. The native of Bellevue, Wash., wrestling at 165, pinned Cameron Childs of Waldorf (Iowa) in 1:40. Ovens finished the day in the second round of the consolation bracket, going 1-2 at the qualifier.

Freshman Chandler Brandert (149) and sophomore Kale Hintz (174) notched a win apiece – both coming in the consolation rounds. Brandert won by decision, 12-9, over Jevon Schnaubert of Jamestown. Meanwhile, Hintz nailed down his sixth pin of the season when he recorded a fall in 1:15 over Jamestown’s Tucker Davison.

Although Austin Starkey went 0-2 on the day, he hung right with No. 6-nationally rated Trever Deverstern, falling 8-5. The freshman, who lost his two matches by a combined four points, finished his season 14-17.

Brandon Starkey posted the best record on the team with a mark of 18-16 on the season. His career has culminated with a school record 71 victories in his four seasons in the Bulldog singlet. He also holds program records for matches wrestled (131) and tournament place finishes (12).

Beyond Brandon Starkey, two of the other 10 Concordia wrestlers who competed on Saturday have national championships experience on their resumes. Alex Stepanek (141) and Frank Ayala (285) had previously appeared in at least one national championship tournament.

The 2012-13 campaign has concluded for the Bulldogs. They finished with a record of 2-10 overall and 1-5 in GPAC duals.