2013-14 Wrestling Schedule/Results

Dual Record - 9-8 overall; 5-2 GPAC (T-2nd)
Season Stats

Nov. 9 Bethany College Swede Open Lindsborg, Kan. Results
Nov. 16 Iowa State Cyclone Open Ames, Iowa Results
Nov. 20 Buena Vista University - Dual Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 39-7
Nov. 23 Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open Kearney, Neb. Results
Dual Doubleheader at Walz Arena
Dec. 5 Seward HS vs. York HS Seward, Neb. 6 p.m.
Dec. 5 Concordia vs. (18) York College Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. L, 19-20
Dec. 7 Buena Vista Open Storm Lake, Iowa Results
Desert Duals: Dec. 21 (all times Pacific) *Follow live results on TrackWrestling.com
Dec. 21 (23) Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) Las Vegas, Nev. W, 26-16
Dec. 21 (14) Menlo College (Calif.) Las Vegas, Nev. L, 7-30
Dec. 21 Pacific University (Ore.) Las Vegas, Nev. W, 26-16
Dec. 21 (5) University of Great Falls (Mont.) Las Vegas, Nev. L, 9-33
Jan. 8 * Briar Cliff University - Dual Concordia webcast scheduled Sioux City, Iowa W, 31-14
National Duals: Jan. 11-12 *Follow live results on TrackWrestling.com
--For more information on the National Duals, click HERE.
Jan. 11 (8) Cumberland University (Tenn.) Des Moines, Iowa L, 6-31
Jan. 11 (14) Wayland Baptist (Texas) Des Moines, Iowa W, 27-16
Jan. 11 (9) Indiana Tech Des Moines, Iowa L, 12-38
Jan. 14 * Doane College - Dual Concordia webcast scheduled  Seward, Neb. W, 39-6
Jan. 16 * (13) Morningside College - Dual Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. L, 6-34
Jan. 23 York College - Dual Concordia webcast scheduled York, Neb. L, 12-27
Jan. 30 * (21) Midland University - Dual Concordia webcast scheduled Mitchell, S.D. W, 25-13
Jan. 30 * (17) Dakota Wesleyan - Dual Concordia webcast scheduled Mitchell, S.D. W, 19-18
Feb. 1 Briar Cliff Open Sioux City, Iowa  Results
Feb. 4 * Northwestern College - Dual Concordia webcast scheduled Orange City, Iowa W, 23-16
Feb. 13 * Hastings College - Dual Hastings, Neb. L, 12-21
Feb. 22 North Qualifying Group Tournament Mitchell, S.D.   2nd place
March 7-8 NAIA National Championships Concordia webcast scheduled Topeka, Kan. Results

2013-14 Bulldog Wrestling Roster

Wt.. Name Yr. Hometown Previous School
125 Austin Mogg Sr. El Reno, Okla. Buena Vista University
125 Dmitri Smith Fr. Beaumont, Calif. Beaumont HS
133 Foster Bunce Fr. Munith, Mich. Dansville HS
133 Kodie Cole Fr. Palmdale, Calif. Highland HS
133 Emilio Rivera Jr. Escondido, Calif. San Marcos HS / Palomar College
141 Justin Dyer Fr. Tecumseh, Kan. Shawnee Heights HS
141 Alex Stepanek Sr. St. Paul, Neb. St. Paul HS
149 Enrique Barajas Jr. Hayward, Calif. Arroyo HS / Sacramento City CC
149 Clayton Hintz Fr. Hebron, Neb. Thayer Central HS
149 Robert Mata Jr. Escondido, Calif. Escondido HS / Palomar College
157 Tommy Bailey Fr. Hailey, Idaho Wood River HS
157 Billy Behle Jr. Altoona, Iowa Bondurant-Farrar HS / IA Central CC
157 Martin Dobler Sr. Rockford, Ill. Rockford Lutheran HS
157 Peter Ovens So. Bellevue, Wash. Bellevue 
157 Austin Starkey So. St. Paul, Neb.  St. Paul HS
165 Adison Kenning Jr. Hebron, Neb. Thayer Central HS
174 Austin Fehlhafer Fr. Seward, Neb. Seward HS
174 Nick Sheppard Sr. Englewood, Colo. Englewood HS
184 Bryan Ayala Jr. Topeka, Kan. Topeka West HS / Colby CC
184 Kale Hintz Jr. Hebron, Neb. Thayer Central HS
184 Noel Richardson So. Junction City, Kan. Chapman HS / Merchant Marine Academy
197 Ken Burkhardt Jr. Fr. Milford, Neb. Milford HS
197 Dylan Helberg So. McCook, Neb. Southwest HS / Colby CC
285 Ceron Francisco Fr. Fayetteville, N.C. Douglas Byrd HS

Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Dana Vote

Graduate Assistant: Aaron Sweazye

Assistant Coach: Brady Johnson

Mogg ranked sixth at 125; Bulldogs receive votes in national poll

24 OCT 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – Head wrestling coach Dana Vote’s Bulldogs will be armed with significantly greater firepower as they look ahead to the 2013-14 campaign, the second under Vote. Concordia will get a boost from senior Austin Mogg, a former All-American at NCAA Division III Buena Vista University, who checked in at No. 6 in the national rankings in his 125-pound weight class.

The NAIA released preseason team and individual ratings on Wednesday afternoon. The Bulldogs were listed under the “others receiving votes” section of the team rankings, while Mogg is the only Concordia individual ranked nationally.

Mogg already has 92 career collegiate victories from his time at Buena Vista. He is also a former high school state champion out of El Reno High School in Oklahoma.

“I’m really excited to have Austin in the lineup,” Vote said. “Being a 125-pounder, he’ll start us off at every meet and every tournament. It’s huge. I expect a lot out of Austin. I know he’s got high expectations for himself and I think he can do some real good things for us this year.”

On a regional level, Mogg was placed second at 125 in the North Qualifying Group, behind only Midland’s Kmiec Aspen. At 133, Concordia’s Emilio Rivera garnered a No. 5 ranking in the North. Rivera is a transfer from Palomar College in California.

Vote expects Mogg and Rivera to be two of several Bulldogs who compete for All-American honors when the national championships are held March 7-8 in Topek, Kan.

Concordia begins its season Nov. 9 at the Bethany College Swede Open in Lindsborg, Kan. 

2013-14 Concordia wrestling season preview

4 NOV 2013

At a glance:
2012-13 Dual Record:
 2-10 overall, 1-5 GPAC (T-6th)
Head Coach: Dana Vote (2-10 overall, 2nd year)
Key Returners: Kale Hintz (Jr.), Austin Starkey (So.), Alex Stepanek (Sr.)
Total Letter Winners Returning/Lost: 7/4
Key Losses: Frank Ayala, Brandon Starkey

By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director


Concordia wrestling will have a very different look in 2013-14 with 19 new faces holding down spots on head coach Dana Vote’s roster. After enduring a rebuilding campaign in year one under Vote, the Bulldogs have restocked the cupboards, most notably with seasoned grapplers who already hold collegiate All-America honors.

Vote and his staff worked hard to put together a recruiting class that could bring immediate respectability to the program. The retooled roster has brought a new level of energy to the Concordia wrestling room, where expectations are growing.

“We have it in our goals to have more than three All-Americans,” Vote said. “I think without three All-Americans it’s hard for us to see it as a successful season. We also have high expectations for duals. I feel like we have a real strong dual team. If we can get some big wins on the board dual-wise, I think that shows that we’re moving forward.”

Vote raised eyebrows in the summer of 2012 when he secured transfer Austin Mogg by way of Buena Vista University (Iowa). Mogg piled up 92 wins as a Beaver and claimed All-America honors at the 2010 NCAA Division III National Championships. Ranked No. 6 in the NAIA at 125 pounds, the native of El Reno, Okla., gives the Bulldogs a legitimate title contender at the top of their lineup. Mogg has one season of eligibility left after sitting out a year due to transfer rules.

“I’m really excited to have Austin in the lineup,” Vote said. “Being a 125-pounder, he’ll start us off at every meet and every tournament. It’s huge. I expect a lot out of Austin. I know he’s got high expectations for himself and I think he can do some real good things for us this year.”

Two additional transfers in Emilio Rivera (133) and Enirque Barjas (149) figure to hold down spots in the lineup after coming to Concordia from California junior colleges. Both bring impressive credentials having already earned collegiate All-America honors.

“Emilio and Enrique are great kids with great work ethics,” Vote said. “They are proven winners. They won at the junior college level. Their transition has been great coming in. They haven’t missed a stride. They’ve done great things in the room. I can always count on those two to give me full effort every day.”

Barajas, a native of Hayward, Calif., prefers an aggressive style of wrestling that keeps opponents on the defensive.

“When I’m in my zone, I shoot all the time,” Barajas said. “I’m taking you down. I’m staying on your head. I’m not letting off any pressure. I’m just constantly attacking.”

Among the team’s eight holdovers from the 2012-13 season, senior 141-pounder Alex Stepanek (18-22) and sophomore 157-pounder Austin Starkey (14-17) are the leading returners in terms of wins. Both must stave off competition from members of the talented recruiting class for time on the mat at tournaments and in duals.

Starkey, who hails from St. Paul, Neb., has improved his strength throughout the offseason and appears determined to make a bigger splash in his second season in the Bulldog singlet.

“We have high goals for him this year,” Vote said. “He did a lot of training in the offseason on getting stronger. You can see it. He’s changed his body. He looks way stronger than he did last year.”

There also a slew of freshmen who come in ready to more than make up for the losses of heavyweight Frank Ayala (19-21) and 157-pounder Brandon Starkey (18-16).

One particularly intriguing newcomer is the well put together Ceron Francisco, whose wrestling career got a late start. The 6-foot-3 hulking heavyweight from Fayetteville, N.C., has shown rapid improvement in his development even since arriving on campus in the fall. The freshman went 23-4 and qualified for the state championships as a high school senior.

“Ceron has come in and done great things in the weight room and the wrestling room,” Vote said. “He’s really inexperienced on the mat, but he’s improving every day. The change he’s had from day one to now is just incredible.”

Other impressive freshmen include 141-pounder Foster Bunce (Munith, Mich.), 174-pounder Austin Fehlhafer (Seward, Neb.) and 197-pounder Ken Burkhardt Jr. (Milford, Neb.). Bunce earned state medalist honors three times and went 210-27 in his career at Dansville High School. Fehlhafer also enjoyed a big high school career in Concordia’s backyard with two state runner-up finishes and 137 career prep wins. Meanwhile, Burkhardt Jr. captured a state-runner up finish at nearby Milford High School.

In addition, freshman Tommy Bailey is an accomplished grappler out of Wood River High School in Hailey, Idaho. He qualified for the state championships all four years.

Senior 174-pounder Nick Sheppard and junior 184-pounder Kale Hintz join Starkey and Stepanek as Bulldogs with significant experience at the NAIA level. Hintz wrestled mostly at 174 last year and came up with a team-high tying six pins. Hintz and sophomore Noel Richardson will both compete at 184 while Sheppard vies for action at 174 along with Fehlhafer.

With the roster makeover complete, Barajas and company see plenty of good things happening in the Bulldog wrestling room.

“We’ve been going hard every day,” Barajas said. “We push past our limits all the time. Coach is right there making sure we do more than we can, getting our mental ability to a higher extent.”

Vote says the work ethic of his team rivals that of any he’s seen.

“The work ethic is great,” Vote said. “We’ve got guys in here on their own. About any time of the day that you walk in here, there are usually guys on the mat getting a drill in on their own. They’re always getting weight workouts in, getting extra runs in. It’s just been phenomenal. During preseason, I’ve never seen a team run as hard as this team’s run.”

The infusion of talent means new expectations after last year’s team fell short of qualifying any individuals for the national championships. That won’t cut it this time around.

“We’re young and inexperienced with some transfers so it’s hard to really read with the GPAC, but as a team we have some high goals of finishing real high in the GPAC,” Vote said. “I know we’re going to be competitive in the conference. The GPAC’s a great conference for wrestling. If you can get towards the top you can look to do some damage on the national level and that’s what our goal is as a team.”

Concordia begins its 2013-14 season on Saturday, Nov. 9 with the Bethany College Swede Open in Lindsborg, Kan. The nonconference portion of the schedule also includes the Iowa State Cyclone Open (Nov. 16) and the Desert Duals (Dec. 21) in Las Vegas, Nev.

Mogg, Rivera reach medal stand at Swede Open

10 NOV 2013

LINDSBORG, Kan. – This season will be different for Concordia wrestling. Head coach Dana Vote’s new-look squad began its 2013-14 campaign at the Bethany College Swede Open on Friday with plenty of exciting moments. Transfers Austin Mogg (125) and Emilio Rivera (133), who wore the Bulldog singlet for the first time, reached the medal stand in a solid opening day performance.

“Overall I think we wrestled well,” Vote said. “We saw lots of improvement from the young guys, but we’ve got some little things to work on.”

Vote raved about the performance of Rivera, a transfer from Palomar College. After dropping a 7-3 decision to Trey Trujillo of the University of Nebraska-Kearney in round two of the championship bracket, Rivera won six-straight bouts to claim third place at 133. The native of Escondido, Calif., earned two pins in the process, including one over Apsen Kmiec of Midland in 2:30. Rivera won seven of his eight matches on the day.

Mogg, a former All-American at NCAA Division III Buena Vista University, did not disappoint in his first opportunity to wrestle as a Bulldog. Mogg won his first four decisions on the way to the first-place match against Midland’s Josh Heinzer. Mogg lost to Heinzer by an 11-4 tally. Mogg ended up 4-1 on the day with two wins by fall.

Bulldog freshman heavyweight Ceron Francisco made waves with his pin of Xavier Fisher, a former junior college All-American. Still an inexperienced wrestler, Francisco has made big strides since arriving on the Concordia campus. The native of Fayetteville, N.C., finished 2-1 on the day before leaving with an injury.

Enrique Barajas was also lifted early from the Swede Open due to injury. The 149-pounder, a junior college All-American from California, won by scores of 13-2 (major decision) and 8-2 to proceed to the semifinals of the championship round.

A total of 19 Bulldogs saw action on the mat in Lindsborg, Kan., with 15 recording at least one victory on the day. Fourteen of those grapplers are new to the team this season.

Also at 133, freshman Kodie Cole of Palmdale, Calif., won three matches before ending his day with a narrow 3-2 loss to Rivera in round five of the consolation bracket. Seward native Austin Fehlhafer began his collegiate career with a 3-2 day. All of his wins came via fall.

A select group of Bulldog wrestlers will be in action next Saturday at the Iowa State Cyclone Open in Ames, Iowa. Some of Concordia’s best grapplers will get the opportunity to go head-to-head with top-notch competition.

Barajas claims four victories at Cyclone Open

16 NOV 2014

AMES, Iowa – Second-year head coach Dana Vote took three select wrestlers into action against a loaded field at the Cyclone Open in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday. Junior Enrique Barajas, a transfer from Sacramento City Community College, topped the Bulldogs on the day with four victories. Concordia’s three grapplers (Barajas, Foster Bunce and Emilio Rivera) combined for a mark of 7-6 on the day.

Barajas (149) got off to an impressive start by pinning Iowa Central’s Luis Sifuentes in just 0:40. A native of Heyward, Calif., Barajas would then drop a narrow 4-3 decision to Jake Short (unattached) before winning three-straight matches in the consolation bracket.

Barajas’ final three victories all came by decision, including an overtime squeaker (6-4) over Saint Cloud State’s Kaden Spurgeon. Barajas (6-2 in 2013-14) also topped a pair of unattached competitors in Alexande Hurtado and Keamalu Richardson.

Bunce (141), a wildly successful prep at Dansville High School in Munith, Mich., shook off a 13-7 loss to Josh Shupe in his opening match. He rebounded by pinning Ellsworth Community College’s Puthasor Phanrana in 2:31 and then NCAA Division II University of Nebraska-Kearney grappler Andrew Riedy in 0:32. Bunce’s day ended in round five of the consolation bracket with a 10-8 loss to Ellsworth’s Mike Stewart.

Bunce showed glimpses of how good he can be in making quick work of Riedy, who won four state titles as a Nebraska high school wrestler. The freshman Bunce went 3-2 on the day in his first collegiate action on the mat.

Concordia’s final wrestler at the Cyclone Open, Rivera, found himself eliminated after two matches in the 133-pound bracket. Rivera faced an extremely tough draw going up against Geoffrey Alexander of the University of Maryland and former Midland All-American Matthew Katusin (now at Lindenwood). Despite the two losses on Saturday, Rivera (Escondido, Calif.) is 7-3 on the season.

The Bulldogs will entertain their first dual of the season on Wednesday night when NCAA Division III Buena Vista University (Iowa) visits Walz Arena. Buena Vista is Vote’s alma mater. The action will get underway at 7 p.m.  The dual will be webcast live via the Concordia Sports Network.

Bulldogs pin their way to victory in season's first dual

20 NOV 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – New NAIA national rankings released on Wednesday afternoon included one Bulldog at each of the first four weights in the lineup. On Wednesday night Concordia’s highly-regarded performers validated those rankings in leading a new-look squad to a breezy 39-7 victory over NCAA Division III Buena Vista University, the alma mater of Bulldog second-year head coach Dana Vote.

Vote, who will lean heavily upon the lower weights throughout this season, got the falls he was seeking from his stars.

“I’m excited. The lower guys know they have to carry this team and they go out and they fight,” Vote said. “I said, ‘guys we want to come out and look for pins’ and we did. We had four pins on the night. Our guys just came out to fight and that’s what we’re looking for.”

The Bulldogs raced out to a virtually insurmountable 24-0 lead as they debuted a lineup with all newcomers. Concordia pumped up the large Walz crowd with eighth-ranked Austin Mogg (125), No. 12 Emilio Rivera (133) and No. 15 Foster Bunce (141) all winning by fall, and No. 9 Enrique Barajas (149) picking up a forfeit victory due to an open weight.

Mogg, a former All-American at Buena Vista with 92 career victories as a Beaver, needed 3:59 to secure the pin of Percy Stiles (4-2). Mogg, an El Reno, Okla., native overmatched his opponent from the beginning in jumping out to a 7-3 lead after the first period with two takedowns and three near-fall points. Mogg nearly finished off Stiles in the first period before nailing him to the mat midway through the second period.

It was a satisfying effort in front of several former teammates.

“It was kind of tough because they’re all my friends,” Mogg said. “I was kind of nervous going into it but we went in the locker room and they all came up to me and were saying ‘hey, Mogg, how are you doing?’ It was just like I was back at home so I knew there was no tension there but once we hit the mat it was going to be a little tougher.”

Rivera, a native of Escondido, Calif., notched his team-leading eighth win of the season in similar fashion. He recorded two first-period takedowns and another in the second before flattening Carlos Barreda. Bunce, a freshman from Munith, Mich., followed with his third pin on the young season and Concordia was well on its way.

“I really liked how they went out and showed heart,” Mogg said. “They were nervous too but they knew they were supposed to go out and do their best and they did.”

At 197, freshman Ken Burkhardt Jr. of Milford, Neb., showed plenty of heart by coming back in the final seconds of the third period. Trailing 5-4 to Demetrius Heard with under 10 seconds left in the bout, Burkhardt Jr. unleashed a takedown and then two back points for good measure to pull out an 8-5 decision.

“Up and down the lineup everybody competed,” Vote said. “Every guy came out with fight. We knew there were going to be some tough matches and some of those matches we just out-gutted guys. At 197 Burkhardt was losing the entire match and takes the guy down with five seconds left to win. We just stress every day that we’ve got to wrestle for seven minutes.”

The night was particularly special as well for Seward native Austin Fehlhafer in his first collegiate match in his hometown. The two-time Nebraska high school state runner up delivered the quickest pin of the night by finishing off Tyler Puls after only 1:04 elapsed, pushing his team-leading pin total to four on the season.

Concordia’s two additional wins came at 157 and 184. At 157, Hailey, Idaho, freshman Tommy Bailey came up just short of a major with an 8-1 decision and Noel Richardson (Junction City, Kan.) won by the same margin with a 9-2 victory at 184.

Heavyweight Ceron Francisco, who dropped a narrow decision, provided the most crowd-pleasing moment when he body-slammed the Beavers’ Gable Bonner in the first period. However, the move was ruled illegal and Francisco found himself down 5-0 after three minutes of action.

All in all, it was a good first dual showing for Vote’s Bulldogs.

“I definitely think we’re moving in the right direction,” Vote said. “It’s a slow process. It’s going to take some time, but each day we practice to get a little bit better and focus on moving forward all the time. The guys are starting to believe. I can see it each time we step out.”

The improvements have not gone unnoticed by Bulldog fans, who made Walz an intimidating place on Wednesday. Both Vote and Mogg acknowledged the fans following the match.

“The crowd was amazing. It was a great environment,” Vote said. “The crowd really got into it and we just want to keep building on that because our guys feed off it.”

The Bulldogs will be back in action on Saturday at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open. They will be return home to host No. 18 York on Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. Concordia’s match will be preceded that night by a prep dual pitting Seward High School against York High School at 6 p.m.

Seward's own Fehlhafer takes 174-pound title, Outstanding Wrestler award at UNK Open

23 NOV 2013

KEARNEY, Neb. – Concordia freshman and Seward native Austin Fehlhafer has made a habit of ending matches early. He continued that trend on Saturday at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open, recording four more wins by fall on the way to a 174-pound amateur title and the open’s Outstanding Wrestler award. As a team, the Bulldogs’ 15 grapplers combined for a record of 23-28 with 11 pins.

In a tournament loaded with top-notch competition, Fehlhafer, a two-time state runner up at Seward High School, grew up quickly in only his second collegiate open.

“Austin had an unreal tournament,” second-year head coach Dana Vote said. “He wrestled tough all day. He had guys who battled him and he stayed strong. Austin took a huge step today. He completely dominated his opponents.

“I thought he could have a good day but I didn’t expect him to dominate like that.”

Fehlhafer (9-2), a two-time state runner up at Seward High School, went 5-0 on the day with only one of his matches lasting longer than 3:33. He picked up pins over Morningside’s Isaac Olson (3:33), Graceland’s Meredith Meador (1:31), South Dakota State’s Brady Ayers (0:40) and, finally, Colby Community College’s Jared Johnson (1:31) in the title match.

Of Fehlhafer’s nine wins on the season, eight have come by fall. He had a total of five pins on the week including his fall of Buena Vista’s Tyler Puls in 1:04 on Wednesday.

Ceron Francisco (5-4) also showed growth in coming up with three wins on Saturday – second behind only Fehlhafer among Bulldogs. After losing his first bout, the Fayettevill, N.C., native won his next three matches in making his way through the heavyweight consolation bracket. Francisco fell one round short of placing when he was pinned to complete his day.

“He is continuing to get better,” Vote said. “He is close to making a big leap with just a couple of improvements in his positioning.”

Twelve of Concordia’s 15 wrestlers at the open registered at least one win on the day. The showing marked a huge improvement over last season’s effort at the Nebraska-Kearney Open, an event Vote calls one of the toughest his team will face. The Bulldogs’ 23 wins were 19 more than their total from the 2012 tournament.

“Overall we wrestled all right,” Vote said. “We faced some adversity and struggled at times. We had some guys win some big matches and we battled in close matches. We need to continue to make progress with the little things.”

Two of Concordia’s nationally-ranked wrestlers did not compete as senior Austin Mogg (No. 8 at 125) and junior Emilio Rivera (No. 12 at 133) did not make the trip to Kearney.

The Bulldogs will break from competition until Thursday, Dec. 5 when they host No. 18 York College for a dual set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Concordia’s match will be preceded by a prep dual featuring Seward and York High Schools at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs opened up the dual schedule by defeating Buena Vista, 39-7, inside Walz Arena on Wednesday.

Concordia wrestling hosts York Thursday as part of unique doubleheader

3 DEC 2013

Thursday, Dec. 5 | 7:30 p.m. No. 23 Concordia University vs. No. 18 York College

(Intermat NAIA team rankings)

Featured matchups:

(Concordia vs. York)

125 – No. 8 Austin Mogg (5-1) vs. No. 11 Oscar Marin (7-4)

133 – No. 12 Emilio Rivera (8-3) vs. No. 16 Sergio Sanchez (4-4)

141 – No. 15 Foster Bunce (5-4) vs. No. 7 Jason Arreola (9-0)

174 – Austin Fehlhafer (9-2) vs. No. 13 Joe Madison (9-5)

*50 free Concordia wrestling shirts will be thrown into the crowd

6 p.m. - Seward High School vs. York High School

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia University wrestling has partnered with Seward High School on a doubleheader that will pit the communities of Seward and York against each other on Thursday night. As part of a rare event, the collegiate dual between Concordia and York, set to begin at 7:30 p.m., will be preceded by a prep match featuring Seward and York High Schools at 6 p.m.

Bulldog second-year head coach Dana Vote sees the unique doubleheader as a way to bring both communities together and help grow the sport of wrestling locally.

“I think it’s a really great thing. It’s a great opportunity for the community to come together and both support each other and have a great showing,” Vote said. “It gets two different communities involved from the early high school level all the way through college. We want to build that community of wrestlers and make it a tight-knit group.”

The event also figures to spur a budding rivalry between Concordia and York. The Panthers have won all five dual meetings since the rebirth of Bulldog wrestling in 2009, but a talented recruiting class appears to have helped Vote and company close the gap.

Both teams have their stars, including Concordia’s eighth-ranked Austin Mogg (5-1) at 125 and York’s seventh-ranked Jason Arreola (9-0) at 141, but Vote believes the outcome of the match could be decided by a few hard-to-predict bouts.

“I would say the key matches for us are those middle three weights – 157, 165 and 174,” Vote said. “If we can steal some in there it’s definitely going to help us in trying to come through and win the dual.

“Also at heavyweight, we’re wrestling a guy that we had a one-point match with earlier in the year. If we can get something there that’s going to help us try to pull out the win, too.”

Thursday’s dual will likely see four rematches of bouts that played out at open tournaments. Mogg took care of York’s 11th-ranked Oscar Marin by a 5-3 decision, the same score that the Bulldogs’ 12th-rated Emilio Rivera prevailed by over No. 16 Sergio Sanchez of the Panthers at 133.

In total, Concordia is 3-4 so far in individual tournament matches against York. The Bulldogs should expect for opportunities to avenge earlier setbacks at 174, 197 and 285 against nationally-ranked competitors from the Panthers.

One of those spots is occupied in the Concordia lineup by Seward native Austin Fehlhahfer, who will have plenty of adrenaline flowing on Thursday. Fehlhafer (9-2) fell by a 15-9 decision to York’s 13th-ranked Joe Madison at 174 in the Swede Open on Nov. 9. All Fehlhafer has done since then is win six-straight matches, including five via pinfall on the way to earning the Outstanding Wrestler award at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open.

“I think Austin is excited to wrestle someone who beat him in one of his first matches in college,” Vote said. “He’s rolled off quite a few wins since then. It’s going to be exciting for him to wrestle him again and have the opportunity to compete in front of a lot of fans that he’s had behind him for a long time.”

York boasts a total of six nationally-ranked wrestlers with Arreola being the highest regarded. Arreola, who claimed All-America honors at last season’s national championships, is ranked as the top 141-pounder in the North Qualifying Group. Both Madison and No. 9 Logan Paul Eickhoff (197) are ranked No. 2 regionally in their respective weight classes.

The most intriguing matchups in terms of rankings will come at the top where both Concordia and York have rated grapplers at each of the three lowest weight classes.

“We’ve relied on the top of our lineup a lot so far with some upperclassmen,” Vote said. “I think we’ll continue to do that and build on it. They know we lean on them and they like the challenge.”

Another big crowd is expected for Thursday’s match. In their first dual of the 2013-14 season, the Bulldogs cruised to a 39-7 victory over NCAA Division III Buena Vista University in front of a spirited audience on Nov. 20. Vote believes the generation of this type of atmosphere will help the program take off.

“The bigger we can get the crowd and the more we can get it involved will be a huge advantage for us,” Vote said. “It helps us build momentum and it gets the guys fired up. It gets them hungry to compete.”

For those unable to make it to Thursday’s Concordia-York dual, a live webcast will be available via theConcordia Sports Network.

Prior to Thursday’s dual, York will face first-year program and GPAC member Doane on Tuesday night at the Freeman Center in York. It will be the Panthers’ first dual of the season.

Bulldogs come up short in frustratingly close loss to York

5 DEC 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – On a special night that brought the Seward and York communities together at Walz Arena, the No. 23-rated Concordia wrestling team came agonizingly close to toppling 18th-ranked York College. The Panthers reeled off wins in the final three weight classes to clip the Bulldogs, 20-19, in Seward on Thursday. A battle on the mat between Seward and York High Schools preceded the collegiate match.

With another large home crowd on hand, second-year head coach Dana Vote had hoped to take out York in a budding rivalry. However, the Panthers were the more experienced squad, and it showed according to Vote.

“No. 1, coming off Thanksgiving break this was our first competition,” Vote said. “No. 2, I think youth showed tonight. We were this close in a lot of situations. We weren’t finishing periods. We weren’t finishing shots.”

“We lost probably three matches that we should have won, that we were realistically in. We gave up points late and it hurts.”

The outcome came down to the final bout where Concordia’s Ceron Francisco and York’s 11th-ranked Saia Lotulelei squared off at heavyweight. Francisco never led as Lotulelei took control in the first period with a takedown and two back points on the way to a 5-1 win. That edged York in front by a single point to end the night.

The heavyweight loss capped off a tough night for the Bulldogs, who received the benefit of two York forfeits at 165 and 174. The Panthers, led by head coach Ramon Diaz, found a way to win virtually all of the close matches and came out on top in six of eight contested weight classes.

After Concordia’s eighth-ranked Austin Mogg (125) dropped an intense 10-9 match to No. 11 Oscar Marin to begin the dual, the Bulldogs bit back with their most impressive individual effort of the evening. At 133, No. 12 Emilio Rivera (9-3) scored six takedowns and two three-point near falls in a 19-5 major decision over York’s Brandon Brown.

Concordia’s other contested victory came at 141 where 15th-ranked freshman Foster Bunce (6-4) held off Bryan Magno for a 4-2 victory. Bunce, a wildly successful prep in the state of Michigan, got all he needed with a first-period takedown and then a reversal in the second period.

Vote liked what he saw out of both Rivera and Bunce.

“Emilio wrestled great. He was three seconds away from having a tech fall,” Vote said. “Foster came out and scored early. We didn’t finish strong but we still got the W. Both of those guys did a great job tonight.”

Five of the eight contested matches came down to mere decisions. The Bulldogs’ four losses by decision had margins of one, one, four and six points. Concordia fell a single point short at both 125 and at 197.

Despite an offensive approach that resulted in a takedown just a few seconds after the opening whistle, Mogg was unable to prevail over Marin, whom he topped 5-3 at the Swede Open on Nov. 9.

Rivera believes he and his teammates will eventually overcome the errors that played a role in Thursday’s outcome.

“We let those little mistakes get to us at the end and that’s what cost us the whole dual meet,” Rivera said. “But we’ll be seeing these guys again. We’ll get them.”

Seward native Austin Fehlhafer, who entered the night red hot, did not get the chance to wrestle in front of the large hometown crowd due to a York forfeit at 174. Fehlhafer improved to 10-2 on the season.

In the front end of the dual doubleheader, York High School defeated Seward High School by a count of 42-35.

The Bulldogs will be in action again on Saturday when they travel to Storm Lake, Iowa, for the Buena Vista University Open. The tournament gets underway at 9 a.m. Live results can be followed online via Track Wrestling.

Bulldog grapplers combine for eight place finishes, 36 wins at BVU Open

7 DEC 2013

STORM LAKE, Iowa – Two days after hosting York for a dual, Concordia University wrestling returned to action and made a splash at the Buena Vista University Open on Saturday. Led by Austin Mogg’s second-place finish at 125, Concordia’s 17 wrestlers combined for eight place-finishes and 36 wins (12 via pinfall) in a solid overall day for second-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad.

“We performed better than I thought we would,” Vote said. “We showed improvement. We lost several close matches that could have made the day even better had we won some of them. We had a good day overall.”

Mogg, a native of El Reno, Okla., competed at the Buena Vista Open for the fifth-straight year and eclipsed 100 career victories by adding four to his total on Saturday. He stormed to the 125-pound title match at the event for the fifth time by defeating three GPAC opponents, one by major decision, before majoring top-ranked Grand View’s (Iowa) Jordan Ihle in the semifinals.

Mogg, the NAIA’s eighth-ranked 125-pounder, ended his day with a narrow 6-4 defeat to Iowa Western’s Adrian Lozano.

“It shows the consistency he’s had over his career in putting together 100 wins,” Vote said. “This is five years he’s wrestled at this tournament and he’s won it three times. He just keeps improving.”

Freshman Austin Fehlhafer (174) continued his impressive run by winning for the eighth and ninth-straight times with a pair of pins to begin the morning. The Seward native collected three total falls to push his team-leading count to 11 on the season. Fehlhafer (15-4) came away with a fifth-place finish in a weight class regarded as one of the most challenging in the tournament. One of his two losses on the day was a tight 13-11 overtime decision up against Briar Cliff’s eighth-ranked Anthony Pike.

Senior Alex Stepanek put forth one of his more complete efforts as a collegiate wrestler. The native of St. Paul, Neb., tied Fehlhafer for a team high with five wins at Buena Vista. He recorded two pins and secured a third-place finish by besting teammate Foster Bunce, 6-0, in his final bout of the open.

In addition, Vote gave high praise to freshman Kodie Cole (Palmdale, Calif.) who competed at 133. Cole claimed perhaps the team’s biggest victory with an upset of Morningside’s eighth-ranked Carter Tegeler in the quarterfinals of the bracket. Cole pinned Tegeler in 3:05 on his way to a fifth-place medal.

The Bulldogs’ other place winners included Bunce (141 – 4th place), Kale Hintz (184 – 7th place), Emilio Rivera (133 – 7th place) and Noel Richardson (184 – 8th place). Hintz and Richardson squared off in the seventh-place match in the 184-pound bracket with Hintz prevailing 6-3.

Of Concordia’s 17 wrestlers who participated on Saturday, 12 picked up at least one victory (seven had at least one pin). Stepanek and Fehlhafer led the way with five wins apiece, followed by four each from Bunce and Mogg. Registering exactly three triumphs were Cole, Hintz, Richardson and Rivera.

The Bulldogs’ 36 wins doubled their total from last year’s Buena Vista Open in Storm Lake, Iowa, where Concordia went 18-20 in 2012. Their eight place finishers at the 2013 event were five more than last year.

The Bulldogs have one final event scheduled before the holidays as they look forward to the Desert Duals in Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday, Dec. 21. Concordia will dual four opponents to be determined on that date. The Bulldogs carry a record of 1-1 in dual meets.

Viva Las Vegas: Bulldog wrestling set for flight to Desert Duals

18 DEC 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia wrestling program is making final preparations for Thursday’s flight to Las Vegas, Nev., site of the 2013 Desert Duals. Second-year head coach Dana Vote’s 25th-ranked Bulldogs will dual four opponents on Saturday as part of a unique event held in the ballroom of the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino located along the Vegas strip.

“This is a great event for some of our guys to go out and make a mark for themselves,” Vote said. “We are starting to get recognized a little bit on the regional level and now this gives us an opportunity for people to know who we are on a national level.  This is a great relaxed event that has great wrestling.  It’s not that often you get to wrestle in a ballroom.”

Concordia’s first match will begin at 8 a.m. PST on Saturday from the Flamingo ballroom. The Bulldogs will be tested significantly as three of their four matches are against teams rated inside the NAIA’s top 25 according to Intermat. That slate includes fifth-ranked University of Great Falls (Mont.). The three ranked opponents combine for 16 nationally-ranked individual grapplers.

Vote will take a group of 15 wrestlers to Vegas. The team will depart from Seward at 9:30 a.m. CST on Thursday and fly out of the Grand Island airport at 12 p.m. CST. The Bulldogs are scheduled to arrive in Vegas on Thursday at 12:45 p.m. PST (2:45 CST). The team will work out in the ballroom on both Thursday and Friday leading up to Saturday. As Vote states, the trip is “strictly business.”

Live results for the Desert Duals will be available via TrackWrestling.com. (Make sure to search “Desert Duals” under browse).

For season match-by-match results for Concordia wrestlers, click HERE.

Desert Duals schedule (all times Pacific)

  • 8 a.m. – Concordia vs. No. 23 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.)
  • 10 a.m. – Concordia vs. No. 14 Menlo College (Calif.)
  • 2 p.m. – Concordia vs. Pacific University (Ore.)
  • 4 p.m. – Concordia vs. No. 5 University of Great Falls (Mont.)

(NOTE: The Duals will operate on a rolling schedule, thus, times after 8 a.m. are approximate.)

Desert Duals opponents in the national rankings

No. 23 Embry-Riddle (NAIA)

  • 125 – No. 4 Sean Silva
  • 149 – No. 14 Colin Merkley
  • 165 – No. 16 Luke Riley

No. 5 Great Falls (NAIA)

  • 125 – No. 12 Luke Schlosser
  • 133 – No. 4 Michael Ruiz
  • 149 – No. 5 Ryan Martin
  • 157 – No. 7 Chad Cebulski; No. 10 Nicholas Schmidt
  • 165 – No. 7 Shawn Lau (165)
  • 184 – No. 3 Kamron Jackson
  • 197 – No. 16 Dylan Lemery
  • 285 – No. 4 David Lopez

No. 14 Menlo (NAIA)

  • 141 – No. 13 Steele Escobedo
  • 165 – No. 1 Eric Lopez
  • 197 – No. 14 Ian Mac Ineirghe
  • 285 – No. 7 Scott Brasil

Pacific (NCAA Division III)
--No ranked individuals

Bulldogs in the rankings


  • 125 – No. 3 Austin Mogg
  • 133 – No. 2 Emilio Rivera; No. 3 Kodie Cole
  • 141 – No. 5 Foster Bunce
  • 149 – No. 2 Enrique Barajas
  • 174 – No. 5 Austin Fehlhafer
  • 184 – No. 6 Noel Richardson
  • 285 – No. 6 Ceron Francisco


  • 125 – No. 13 Austin Mogg
  • 133 – No. 9 Emilio Rivera; No. 13 Kodie Cole
  • 149 – No. 9 Enrique Barajas

Concordia wrestling leaves Desrt Duals with two more victories

21 DEC 2013

LAS VEGAS – Six mats spread out in the spacious ballroom of the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino set the stage for the 2013 Desert Duals along the Vegas strip on Saturday. Up against plenty of nationally-ranked competition, Concordia University wrestling went 2-2 in its quadruple header of duals out west. On the season, second-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad is now 3-3.

“It was good for us. We got to see nationally-ranked guys from other parts of the country,” Vote said. “We got an idea of where we’re at. We saw some good things and we also had some disappointments. The biggest thing we learned is that we are not far away.”

Milford High School native Ken Burkhardt Jr. (8-8) shined brightest among Bulldog individuals with a 3-1 record on Saturday. The 197-pounder dominated 14th-ranked Ian Mac Ineirghe of Menlo College (Calif.) on the way to an 18-7 major decision. Burkhardt Jr. also notched a major decision over Embry-Riddle’s (Ariz.) Troy Kilgore and a 4-3 decision over Chris Harlin of Pacific University (Ore.).

“He’s getting better. Every time out he’s improving,” Vote said of Burkhardt Jr. “He’s 100 times better than he was at the beginning of November.”

Concordia started out strong by claiming a 26-16 victory over No. 23 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.) in its first dual of the day. The Bulldogs cracked open a 16-3 advantage highlighted by freshman Tommy Bailey’s (157) pin of Matthew Coultas in 2:28. After the Eagles came back to tie at 16-all, Concordia closed out the victory thanks to Burkhardt’s (197) 14-5 major decision and a forfeit win at heavyweight.

In match No. 3, the Bulldogs won by an identical 26-16 tally over Pacific. Freshman Austin Fehlhafer (16-7) nailed down his team-leading 12th pin of the season by finishing off Jacob Richards in 1:34, giving the 174-pounder from Seward his fourth fastest fall. Burkhardt Jr. got the big win at 197 and another forfeit at heavyweight provided the 10-point margin.

In its second match of the day, Concordia fell 30-7 to No. 14 Menlo College (Calif.). However, the team score did not reflect the competitiveness of the individual matches. The Bulldogs dropped five decisions by four points or less, including the dual’s first four bouts. Sophomore Austin Starkey (157) and Burkhardt Jr. (197) claimed the team’s only victories.

The highlight of the Bulldogs’ 33-9 loss to No. 5 University of Great Falls (Mont.), in the final match of the day, came at 285 where freshman Ceron Francisco (9-8) upset fourth-ranked David Lopez. Francisco dropped Lopez to his back with a thunderous thud to get the pin after only 1:53 had elapsed. That fall concluded the day in Sin City.

Burkhardt Jr. and Francisco were not the only ones to record a win over a ranked foe. Concordia’s ninth-rated Enrique Barajas (149) held serve over No. 14 Colin Merkely of Embry-Riddle as part of the Bulldog victory over the Eagles.

A total of 15 Bulldogs made the trip to Vegas. Each of them had the opportunity to wrestle in at least one match in the Flamingo Hotel. Concordia grapplers combined for a record of 16-24 with three pins on the day.

“We had a good day,” Vote said. “We wrestled well for the most part – we’re just young and inconsistent. We’ve got a lot of potential. We have to regroup and attack and get more physical.”

After arriving in Vegas on Thursday afternoon, it was all about business. Vote said that some members of the team visited the Hoover Dam, but most of the trip was spent focusing on wrestling. The majority of the team will fly out of Vegas early Sunday morning while others will depart from Vegas with their families for the Christmas break.

The Bulldogs have plenty of duals remaining as conference action gets going after the holidays. Next up for Concordia is a match at Briar Cliff on Wednesday, Jan. 8 in what will be the first of seven GPAC duals. Vote’s Bulldogs also have two open tournaments remaining on the 2013-14 schedule.

Barajas, Rivera lead Bulldog victory in GPAC-opening dual

8 JAN 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – A pair of pins and a pair of forfeits helped make Concordia wrestling a lopsided winner over Briar Cliff (1-3, 1-2 GPAC) in Sioux City, Iowa, on Wednesday night. Bulldog juniors Emilio Rivera (133) and Enrique Barajas (149) both dominated their opponents in leading the visitors to a 31-14 victory. Concordia improved to 4-3 overall by winning its conference opener.

“It’s nice to get that conference dual win over a quality team,” second-year head coach Dana Vote said. “It was our first competition since going to Vegas (Dec. 21) and we came out ready. We went through some hard training the past week or so and some of our guys really stood out.”

Barajas (9-8) and Rivera (14-6), both junior college transfers from California, were foremost among those standouts. Rivera polished off Shawn Miller in 4:29 while Barajas nailed Sonny Gulesian to the mat after 4:50 elapsed. The Bulldogs led 18-4 after Barajas’ pin.

“Those two guys have really been leaders,” Vote said. “We expect big points from them. They dominated tonight. They were out there looking for pins and kept working for it.”

Similarly impressive, freshman Ken Burkhardt Jr. carried over his strong outing at the Desert Duals and registered a 12-2 major decision over Briar Cliff’s Jake Baker. The victory pushed the Milford native above .500 on the season at 9-8.

“Ken’s really improving each day,” Vote said. “The last couple of weeks he’s really taken a turn. He just gets better every time out.”

Concordia’s other contested win came at 157 where Tommy Bailey eked out a 3-2 decision over Leland Slawson. It was the third-consecutive victory for Bailey, who hails from Hailey, Idaho.

Both Noel Richardson (184) and Ceron Francisco (285) came up just short in their respective matches. Richardson led most of the way before the Chargers’ Dan Harvey took control in the final period for a 6-2 victory. Francisco fell 5-3 to Brian Ervin in the final bout of the night with the team victory already well in hand.

Briar Cliff owns a conference victory over Doane (32-9) as well as a GPAC loss to then No. 9 Midland (24-18). Last season the Chargers defeated Concordia 30-12 in Seward.

Freshman Austin Fehlhafer (174), the team’s leader in wins and pins, did not wrestle on Wednesday. Senior Nick Sheppard earned a forfeit win at 174 for the Bulldogs. Fellow senior Alex Stepanek (141) also received credit for a forfeit victory.

The Bulldogs will return to action on Saturday at the Hastings College Open where 18 Concordia wrestlers will compete. The tournament will get started at 9 a.m. Next week Concordia will host a pair of GPAC duals – Tuesday and Thursday – against the likes of Doane and Morningside.

Hometown Fehlhafer finds balance, early success on the mat

9 JAN 2014

By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director

Wrestling and repairing cars go together like peanut butter and jelly – at least they do for Concordia freshman Austin Fehlhafer.

In between wrestling practice and getting ready to labor at the Midwest Automotive and Napa Auto Parts store owned by his parents, Brian and Cindy, the Seward native discussed his passion for two of the things he loves most.

“It was actually a hard decision whether to come wrestle (at Concordia) or go work on cars because I basically grew up in the shop with my dad,” Fehlhafer said. “It’s just always been in my blood – the same as wrestling.”

Midway through his rookie season, Fehlhafer has found the perfect balance. He’s ahead of schedule on the mat. He leads second-year head coach Dana Vote’s Bulldogs in wins (16) and pins (12) and he still squeezes in time at the shop.

The astounding early success has surprised Vote and even Fehlhafer himself. The business administration major raised plenty of eyebrows when he won the 174-pound title at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open and was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler. Fehlhafer bulldozed the competition with four of his five wins on the day coming via fall.

“I expected Austin to have a good year but I don’t know if I expected him to start off as hot as he did,” Vote said. “He’s a tough kid. He comes from a great family. He keeps working towards his goals. He knows what he wants and he’s working towards it.”

What Fehlhafer wants is to leave his opponents wondering what hit them. He has already ended nine matches before they even made it past the first period. His fastest fall came in just 40 seconds. In other words, he likes to strike quickly.

“I find success in going out there and dominating and trying to knock them out right away,” Fehlhafer said. “I don’t want to give them a chance at all. That’s what I try to go for – to knock them off their feet so they don’t know what to expect. I try to pin as many people as I can.”

Of course, those who followed Fehlhafer’s career at Seward High School may not be so surprised by the freshman’s adaptation to the collegiate scene. Fehlhafer set school records as a Bluejay with 104 wins and 36 pins during his career. He also placed at the state championships three times and twice earned runner up medals.

However, he understood that college wrestling presented a new challenge and plenty of unknowns.

“I wasn’t sure really what to expect,” Fehlhafer said. “I just knew from everybody telling me that I could do some special things if I put my mind to it. I just had that mindset and tried my best. It all came together (at UNK). It was a pretty cool day.”

The exciting thing about Fehlhafer’s early rise is that there still appears to be plenty of room for development and growth. Losses in three of his four matches at the Desert Duals in Las Vegas in his most recent outing are sure to motivate him as the GPAC dual season gets into full swing.

“I think the sky’s the limit for Austin,” Vote said “As long as he keeps working he can achieve anything he wants to achieve. He definitely has great opportunities to be an All-American and possibly a national champion someday.”

Fehlhafer has already made a significant impact upon Concordia wrestling beyond his penchant for quickly disposing of his opponents. The hometown star has helped bring bigger crowds to Walz Arena, a place that is fast becoming a tough environment for Concordia foes.

“It means a lot,” Fehlhafer said of the chance to wrestle in his hometown. “There are a lot coming from Seward when we have home duals. I came to a home dual last year and there wasn’t near as many people. We want to get the Seward community to know about the Concordia program.”

Fehlhafer and a host of other key newcomers have begun to get the local spotlight shifting in the program’s direction.

Fortunately potential obstacles – such as a torn right meniscus and the pull of working full time at the family shop – moved aside for a fruitful collegiate wrestling career for Fehlhafer.

Even a summer wakeboarding accident failed to stop him from success on the mat this winter.

“I was trying to attempt a backflip and I ended up tearing my meniscus in my right knee,” Fehlhafer said. “That was a text message to Dana that I had to send. That wasn’t very fun. I was kind of nervous to tell him that I was having knee surgery the next day.”

All is forgiven. Good times lie ahead for Fehlhafer, who will gladly change your oil or replace your balding tire. Right now life is all about wrestling, school and fixing cars at the automotive shop.

Said Fehlhafer, donning his Napa Auto Parts hat and Midwest Automotive hoody, “Actually I’m about to go there now.”

Upset of No. 14 Wayland Baptist highlights run at National Duals

11 JAN 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Concordia University wrestling program accepted an invite on short notice to participate in the 16-team NAIA bracket of the prestigious National Duals, held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday. Despite having been added to the field less than 48 hours before the duals began, the Bulldogs (5-5) acquitted themselves well, going 1-2 while facing a trio of teams ranked in the top 15 nationally.

“We wrestled well,” second-year head coach Dana Vote said. “We proved that we can compete here in the premier event for wrestling other than the national championships. This was against the highest competition we can face and we proved we’re not far away.”

In its first match of the day, Concordia fell 31-6 to No. 8 Cumberland University (Tenn.). Dropping to the consolation bracket, the Bulldogs then defeated No. 14 Wayland Baptist University (Texas) 27-16. Finally, Vote’s squad was eliminated from the National Duals with a 38-12 evening loss to No. 9 Indiana Tech.

Going to work in the consolation bracket, the 25th-rated Bulldogs pulled off the upset of Wayland Baptist by recording three pins, including the team-leading 13th of the season from freshman Austin Fehlhafer (18-8) at 174. Fehlhafer needed 3:37 to take care of Michael Naiper, who is ranked 10th in the NAIA at 184 pounds.

Overall, it was another stellar day for the Seward native, who went 2-1 with two pins to push his season fall count to 14.

“He’s definitely not far from being an elite guy,” Vote said of Fehlhafer. “He’s not just beating guys, he’s beating them bad. He had a great day. He’s not 100 percent but he stepped for his teammates. He never complained. He just went out and competed.”

Austin Starkey (165) and Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) also picked up falls over Wayland Baptist foes to allow the Bulldogs to build an insurmountable 27-13 advantage going into the heavyweight bout. Starkey pinned his opponent in just 1:24 while Burkhardt Jr. finished off Nik Gates in 1:49.

The two additional wins came at 125, where Concordia received the benefit of a forfeit, and at 149, where Enrique Barajas used a single escape to pull out a 1-0 decision over Victor Thomas.

While the final scores of the Bulldogs’ two losses look lopsided, there were several close calls and solid individual efforts on the part of Vote’s grapplers.

“We wrestled tough,” Vote said. “We’re just not quite at that level yet. We showed our youth again, but this was a good experience and a great opportunity.”

Concordia freshman Kodie Cole, ranked 16th at 133, dominated Dalton Baysinger of Cumberland, racking up better than five minutes of riding time before just missing out on a major decision. Cole improved to 10-7 at the time by picking up the 9-2 win.

In a battle of top 10 wrestlers at 149, Concordia’s 10th-ranked Enrique Barajas (11-9) hung tough with No. 4 Jake Williams, a former Bulldog. After a scoreless first period, Williams ultimately edged Barajas 4-2 with the help of a riding time advantage of just over a minute.

Concordia also came up just short at 174, 197 and 285, losing those three weights by a combined seven points to Cumberland. Freshmen Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) and Austin Fehlhafer (174) both took on nationally-ranked foes and dropped decisions by two and three points, respectively.

Barajas completed his day on a positive note by sticking Indiana Tech’s Mitch Roadruck to the mat in 3:45 for one of the Bulldogs’ two wins versus the Warriors. Concordia came up just short at 125, 157 and 197. The setbacks at those three weights came by a combined five points (two losses by a single point).

Bulldogs to record two wins on the day included Barajas (2-1), Fehlhafer (2-1) and Dmitri Smith (2-1). Four Bulldogs had exactly one victory on Saturday.

Concordia will complete its home schedule next week as it hosts conference duals on Tuesday versus Doane (0-6, 0-1 GPAC) and on Thursday against No. 13 Morningside (3-6, 0-0 GPAC). Concordia is 1-1 this season in home duals having defeated NCAA Division III Buena Vista University and lost to then No. 18 York College.

Notebook: Concordia wrestling hosts final two home duals this week

14 JAN 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Second-year head coach Dana Vote’s wrestling program will play host for the final two times this season as GPAC duals continue this week. The 25th-ranked Bulldogs host Doane (0-6, 0-1 GPAC) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and No. 13 Morningside (4-6, 0-0 GPAC) at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Both duals will be webcast live via the Concordia Sports Network.

View Concordia season match-by-match results HERE.

Senior Night
Concordia’s four seniors will be recognized on Thursday night when Morningside visits town. An intermission will be held after the first five matches to make way for the Senior Night presentation. The team’s four seniors are Martin Dobler (Rockford, Ill.), Austin Mogg (El Reno, Okla.), Nick Sheppard (Englewood, Colo.) and Alex Stepanek (St. Paul, Neb.).

Bulldogs in duals
As a team, Concordia sports an overall dual record of 5-5 with a conference mark of 1-0. The Bulldogs hold wins over top 25 teams in No. 14 Wayland Baptist University (Texas) and No. 23 Embry-Riddle (Ariz.). All five defeats have come at the hands of squads ranked inside the nation’s top 20.

Individually, Concordia wrestlers own a record of 43-57 in the 10 dual meets. Only freshmen Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) and Ceron Francisco (285) have been in the lineup for all 10. Burkhardt Jr. tops the Bulldogs with six dual victories. Junior Emilio Rivera has the best winning percentage with a dual record of 4-1 (.800).

Fehlhafer falls
Freshman Austin Fehlhafer added two more pins to his total with impressive day at the National Duals on Jan. 11. Fehlhafer, the Seward High School career record holder for wins (104) and pins (36), leads the Bulldogs with an 18-8 overall record and 14 wins via fall. The former Bluejay star holds a dual record of 5-4 and is ranked sixth in the NAIA North Region at 174 pounds.

Ten wins or more
Last week three Bulldog wrestlers reached double figures in victories on the season to become the fifth, sixth and seventh individuals to do so. The 10-win club includes Austin Fehlhafer (18-8), Emilio Rivera (14-6), Foster Bunce (11-7), Enrique Barajas (11-9), Austin Mogg (10-5), Kodie Cole (10-9) and Ken Burkhardt Jr. (10-10). Both Ceron Francisco (9-12) and Alex Stepanek (9-10) need just one more victory to reach double figures. Last season four Bulldogs topped 10 wins, led by the 19 from Frank Ayala.

How they stack up
Concordia wrestlers have faced off against Doane seven times and Morningside eight times with plenty of success against both. The Bulldogs have combined to go 6-1 versus Tiger opponents and 7-1 versus Mustang grapplers in meetings at open tournaments this season. View the match-by-match results below.

Concordia vs. Doane:
(125) Austin Mogg (CNC) dec. Jesse Marek (D), 8-3 (Swede Open)
(133) Kodie Cole (CNC) pinned Jonathan Larsen, 6:28 (Swede Open)
(133) Dmitri Smith (CNC) dec. KC DeFilipps (D), 10-4 (Swede Open)
(149) Enrique Barajas (CNC) major dec. Greg Eagle (D), 13-2 (Swede Open)
(157) Tommy Bailey (CNC) major dec. Marcus Aleman (D), 15-5 (Swede Open)
(184) Chandler Knight (D) pinned Kale Hintz (CNC), 0:51 (Swede Open)
(197) Ken Burkhardt Jr. (CNC) dec. Kyle Hoffman (D), 7-3 (Swede Open)

Concordia vs. Morningside:
(125) Austin Mogg (CNC) dec. Brent Curtis, 7-4 (Buena Vista Open)
(133) Kodie Cole (CNC) pinned Nicholas Drenth (M), 4:24 (UNK Open)
(133) Kodie Cole (CNC) pinned Carter Tegeler, 3:05 (Buena Vista Open)
(133) Emilio Rivera (CNC) major dec. Nicholas Drenth (M), 12-4 (Buena Vista Open)
(133) Emilio Rivera (CNC) dec. Carter Tegeler, 8-5 (Buena Vista Open)
(149) Tyler Lashbrook (M) major dec. Clayton Hintz, 8-0 (Buena Vista Open)
(157) Austin Starkey (CNC) dec. Nate Taylor (M), 9-6 (Buena Vista Open)
(174) Austin Fehlhafer (CNC) pinned Isaac Olson (M), 3:33 (UNK Open)

Scouting Doane
The Tigers brought wrestling back into their athletic department this season after last sponsoring the sport in the 1970s. Doane is 0-6 overall and duals and 0-1 in the GPAC having been defeated 32-9 by Briar Cliff on Nov. 6. The fledgling program is led by head coach Tyson Springer, a former assistant coach at the NAIA’s Dickinson State University. Spring has one grappler ranked in the North region: 184-pounder Chandler Knight, who checks in at No. 6. In the team’s most recent outing, Kyle Hoffman (197) placed fifth at the Hastings College Open for the team’s first place finish of the season.

Scouting Morningside
Morningside, led by second-year head coach Jake Stevenson, won the conference dual championship last season with a perfect 6-0 GPAC record. The Mustangs are 4-6 overall in duals this season but have yet to wrestle a conference opponent. Morningside has a deep roster with 11 individuals appearing in the North Group regional rankings. In addition, six of those wrestlers are ranked nationally, led by No. 5 Tyler Kacmarynski at 285 and No. 6 Joseph Sievert at 174. Like Concordia, Morningside went 1-2 at the National Duals with the win coming over No. 14 Wayland Baptist (Texas). In the Jan. 1 edition of the NAIA coaches’ poll, the Mustangs moved up seven spots to No. 13.

Fehlhafer and the 'Dogs flatten Doane

14 JAN 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – The 25th-ranked Concordia University wrestling team surrendered only three takedowns and won all nine contested matches as part of a dominating 39-6 victory over Doane College inside Walz Arena on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs used three pins, a technical fall and a major decision on the way to improving to 6-5 overall and 2-0 in GPAC duals.

Going up against a first-year wrestling program, Concordia took full advantage of the winless Tigers (0-7, 0-1 GPAC). The guys in blue singlets racked up 21 takedowns and nine near falls.

“Our focus the last couple of weeks has been on building leads and finishing matches,” Bulldog second-year head coach Dana Vote said. “We want to continue to score points. Guys just kept building on it tonight. That’s been our focus and it showed.”

With several family members on hand once again for the hometown standout, 174-pound freshman Austin Fehlhafer got after the Tigers’ Austin Borne with a quick takedown preceding a pin that came in 1:42. The machine-like Fehlhafer improved to 19-8 with 15 wins via pinfall.

“He just gets tougher each time out,” Vote said. “Fifteen pins is impressive no matter what grade you’re in.

“He’s not doing it by catching guys. He’s dominating opponents.”

Additional pins came at 133 and 141. Senior Alex Stepanek (141) recorded the fastest fall of the night by polishing off Jon Larson in 1:08 on the heels of an early takedown. Stepanek (10-10) perfectly executed his aggressive game plan in attacking immediately upon the first whistle.

“I wanted to work more of my offense in this match,” Stepanek said. “I knew if I saw a cradle I wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity knowing that anything could happen. The guy took a bad shot and his knee got too close to his head so I just wrapped it up and took it over.”

Bulldog junior Emilio Rivera (15-6), ranked ninth in the NAIA at 133, built up a large lead before putting Derrick Hoffman away. Rivera took command with four takedowns and a three-point near fall in the first period. Rivera added another takedown in the second period and led 13-3 when he notched his fifth pin of the season.

Enrique Barajas (12-9), No. 10 at 149, moved to 157 on Tuesday and easily defeated Taylor Hancock. Barajas, a native of Hayward, Calif., came close to pinning Hancock several times but settled for a 16-1 win by technical fall. Barajas scored five takedowns and totaled seven back points for his 12th win of the season.

Concordia also got a major decision by Foster Bunce (149, 12-7), who came up just short of a pin on two occasions in the first period, as well as decisions courtesy of Dmitri Smith (125, 7-8), Billy Behle (165, 3-11), Noel Richardson (184, 6-12) and Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197, 11-10).

The night’s closes match was contested at 165 where Behle held off Carlos Toledano by a 4-3 decision. The Tigers got their first takedown of the night when Toledano recorded two points in the second period.

In individual matches, Concordia is now 15-2 against Doane opponents with one of the losses coming by forfeit on Tuesday night.

The Bulldogs will host for the final time this season when No. 13 Morningside (4-6, 0-0 GPAC) visits Seward for another GPAC dual at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Jan. 16).  Concordia’s four seniors (Martin Dobler, Austin Mogg, Nick Sheppard and Stepanek) will be recognized as part of the Senior Night presentation during an intermission. The Mustangs will bring 11 regionally ranked and six nationally ranked wrestlers into Walz Arena.

“Morningside is a tough team. Even if that wasn’t Senior Night, it was going to be a hard fought match,” Stepanek said. “Knowing it’s my last home dual I just have to go out there wrestle at my best and give it all my heart because I’m not going to get another chance here.”

First GPAC dual loss highlighted by close calls

16 JAN 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – In a matchup of two of the top four wrestling squads in the NAIA North region, No. 13 Morningside prevailed 34-6 over No. 25 Concordia inside Walz Arena on Thursday night. The visiting Mustangs (5-6, 1-0 GPAC) used two pins and several close triumphs by decision to spoil the Bulldogs’ final home dual of the 2013-14 season.

Second-year head coach Dana Vote’s team fell to 6-6 overall and 2-1 in GPAC duals.

The 28-point spread in the team scoring failed to convey the competitive nature of Thursday’s dual. Six matches were decided by four points or less with the Mustangs coming out on top in four of those bouts. Two nights after pulverizing Doane to the tune of 21 takedowns and three pins, the Bulldogs were rarely on the offensive against the top-ranked team in the North.

“I think our youth keeps showing. We have these close matches and we’ve just got to find a way to win,” Vote said. “We have to go out and finish matches, attack and not wait for guys to come at us. We sat back too much tonight. We weren’t attacking.”

Before Morningside ran off five-straight wins, freshman Dmitri Smith put the Bulldogs in front with a 5-3 sudden victory at 125. Smith, 8-8 overall, got a match-clinching takedown towards the end of the sudden victory period to improve to 4-1 against GPAC opponents.

“Coach Vote teaches us to keep wrestling no matter what and that’s what I did,” Smith said.

Concordia’s other win on the night came at 174 where freshman Austin Fehlhafer (20-8) notched his 20th victory already this season. He just missed out on his 16th pin with a near fall in the second period, during which he had Trew Bushhousen on the ropes. Fehlhafer appeared to tire in the third period when he was taken down once, but he held on for a 5-2 decision that included exactly one minute of riding time.

Narrow setbacks were suffered at 133, 149, 157 and 197. Concordia’s 16th-ranked Kodie Cole (133, 10-10) lost 1-0 to No. 12 Nathan Ryan and No. 10 Enrique Barajas (149, 12-10) fell 4-3 to No. 12 Tyler Lashbrook. Meanwhile, Milford native Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197, 11-11) dropped an overtime tilt with No. 14 Jared McCoy.

The Mustangs’ Thursday lineup, devised by head coach Jake Stevenson, included seven regionally-ranked and five nationally-ranked individuals. Foremost among that group is 174/184-pounder Joe Sievert, who is ranked sixth in the NAIA at 174. Sievert wrestled up at 184 and pinned Concordia senior Nick Sheppard in 2:41.

The Mustangs totaled 14 takedowns (six by Sievert) and three near falls.

An intermission was held following the 157-pound match to honor Bulldog seniors Martin Dobler, Austin Mogg, Nick Sheppard and Alex Stepanek for the final home dual of their careers. Mogg boasts 102 career wins and was a 2010 NCAA Division III All-American.

The Bulldogs are off this weekend and have just one dual next week as they visit No. 10 York College on Wednesday, Jan. 23. The two teams dualed in Seward on Dec. 5 when the Panthers eked out a 20-19 victory. Four more GPAC road duals also remain on the schedule.

“Preparation now is just getting ourselves ready for that regional tournament (Feb. 22),” Vote said. “We want to get as many guys to the national tournament as we can. We just hit a real hard training phase. I think our bodies are a little beat up right now. That real tough phase is over now and we can loosen up the next week and focus on one dual a week from here on out.”

Fehlhafer adds pin No. 16 in team loss at 11th-ranked York

23 JAN 2014

YORK, Neb. – The 22nd-ranked Concordia wrestling squad went head-to-head with rival York College for the second time this season with the host and 11th-ranked Panthers (6-1) coming out on top, 27-12, on Thursday night. Despite the team loss, freshman Austin Fehlhafer again shined for the Bulldogs, who dropped to 6-7 in duals on the season.

Thursday’s dual offered a similar plotline to last week’s loss to then No. 13 Morningside when second-year head coach Dana Vote’s grapplers dropped four decisions by four points or less. Against York, Concordia suffered three setbacks by three points or fewer.

Vote stated simply, “we still need to find a way to win the close matches.”

Close matches have been rare for Fehlhafer (21-8), who notched his 16th pin of the season on Thursday. The former Seward High School standout ended his bout in the first period by wiping out Josh Kountz in 2:16. Fehlhafer has now won five-straight matches with four coming via pinfall. He is ranked 15th nationally at 174 pounds.

“Austin continues to believe in himself and dominate opponents,” Vote said.

Concordia’s additional two wins came at 141 and 157, where both senior Alex Stepanek (11-11) and Austin Starkey (9-12) won by decisions. Stepanek won 7-3 over Brandon Brown and Starkey triumphed 11-7 over Brian Magno.

The Panthers used two nationally-ranked wrestlers in their lineup. No. 9 Oscar Marin (125) topped Dmitri Smith 5-3 and Logan Paul Eickhoff (197), also sporting a No. 9 ranking, clipped Ken Burkhardt Jr., 9-7, to aid the York cause.

The Bulldogs will return to GPAC dual action on Thursday, Jan. 30 when they travel to Mitchell, S.D., for a pair of matches. Concordia takes on No. 17 Dakota Wesleyan (7-5, 3-1 GPAC) at 4 p.m. and No. 21 Midland (2-2, 2-0 GPAC) at 7 p.m.

Fehlhafer named GPAC wrestler of the week

28 JAN 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia freshman wrestler Austin Fehlhafer’s remarkable run has led to another honor. On Tuesday he garnered GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Wrestler of the Week accolades on the heels of his 16th fall of the season.

Said second-year head coach Dana Vote after Fehlhafer pinned York’s Josh Kountz in 2:16 last week, “Austin continues to believe in himself and dominate opponents.”

While based on Fehlhafer’s efforts in the Bulldogs’ dual at No. 11 York on Jan. 23, the award is as much about what the former Seward Bluejay star has done all season. Ranked 15th in the NAIA at 174 pounds, Fehlhafer is 21-8 on the season with 16 pins. He has won five-consecutive bouts (four via pinfall) and boasts an Outstanding Wrestler honor to his name thanks to a 174-pound title at the Nebraska-Kearney Open on Nov. 23.

During his career at Seward High School, Fehlhafer broke school records for career pins (104) and pins in a season (36). He also qualified for the state championships three times, earning two runner-up medals.

Bulldog wrestling makes statement, sweeps GPAC triangular 

30 JAN 2014

MITCHELL, S.D. – The 22nd-ranked Concordia wrestling team went up against a pair of GPAC teams that sported undefeated conference marks heading into Thursday evening’s duals in Mitchell, S.D. That fact would not be true by night’s end. As part of a triangular, the Bulldogs (8-7, 4-1 GPAC) took down No. 17 Dakota Wesleyan (8-6, 4-1 GPAC), 19-18, and No. 21 Midland (2-4, 2-2 GPAC), 25-13, in a big night for the program.

Up against two of the top teams in the conference, the Bulldogs won six of 10 bouts, two via pinfall, on the way to knocking off Midland in the first match of the triangular. Concordia also triumphed in six matches against Dakota Wesleyan to come back for a 19-18 win in the night cap.

At 4-1 in the conference, the Bulldogs look up at just one team – No. 12 Morningside – in the GPAC dual standings.

“Based on where we were at a year ago, if you said we would be sitting No. 2 in the conference people would say you were crazy,” second-year head coach Dana Vote said.

Dakota Wesleyan held an 18-13 advantage going into the final two bouts – 125 and 133 (the match began at 141). After 13th-ranked Austin Mogg notched a 5-2 win at 125, No. 10 Emilio Rivera (17-6) upset No. 6 Richard Rios, 5-2, to complete a sweep at the triangular hosted by the Tigers.

In reversing a recent frustrating trend, Vote’s squad showed toughness to win the nail biters.

“Finally,” Vote said. “We went back to the drawing board after last week. We emphasized winning those close matches. We even had some of our guys watch youth tournaments to remember where they came from and the passion you need to have. We talked about digging deep and that’s what they did.”

Rivera was one of several standouts as Bulldog wrestling made a statement. The native of Escondido, Calif., has now won five-straight matches and is 7-1 in dual meets.

“Emilio gets tougher every time he goes out,” Vote said. “Something a lot of people didn’t know was that he was pretty beat up during the first semester. Now he’s 100 percent and he’s going out and dominating.”

Fifteenth-ranked 174-pounder Austin Fehlhafer (23-8 overall, 10-4 duals) pushed his winning streak to seven with a pair of wins for the Bulldogs. While he did not add to his pin total of 16, the Seward native made a splash by pulling out a 6-5 victory over Midland’s Sterling Terry, the NAIA’s sixth-rated wrestler at 165.

Wednesday also saw the return of Mogg (125) and freshman Ceron Francisco (285) from injury. Mogg (12-5), who holds more than 100 victories over his career with Buena Vista and Concordia, racked up victory Nos. 103 and 104 of his career. The 13th-ranked 125-pounder won both of his matches by exactly three points.

Also key in the upset of Dakota Wesleyan was Austin Starkey’s 12-5 decision over 2013 All-American Dusty Paulsen at 157 and a 2-0 overtime victory for Alex Stepanek (2-0 on the day) at 141.

“All our guys just wrestled tough,” Vote said. “They went out and wrestled for each other.”

The win over Midland was fueled by a pair of falls as No. 11 Enrique Barajas (149) and Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) both notched third-period pins. At the time, the victory marked the fourth in his last five bouts for Barajas. Burkhardt’s fall came after the Warriors had pulled within 12-10 after having won at 157, 165 and 184.

The Bulldogs participate in their final open of the season on Saturday when they head to Sioux City, Iowa, to compete in the Briar Cliff University Open. The action will get started at 9 a.m. Concordia also has two more GPAC duals remaining before the North qualifying tournament on Feb. 22.

Burkhardt and Cole grab fourth-place finishes at Briar Cliff

1 FEB 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – After a couple of grueling GPAC dual victories on Thursday, Concordia wrestling took a group of just 11 grapplers to Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday for the Briar Cliff University Open. While several standouts such as Austin Fehlhafer, Austin Mogg and Emilio Rivera took the tournament off, Ken Burkhardt Jr. and Kodie Cole enjoyed solid days as both placed fourth in their respective weight classes.

“I thought Kodie and Dmitri (Smith) had the best days,” Vote said. “Cody had a good day and got a win over an All-American in Aspen Kmiec of Midland. That was a big one for him. And Dmitri wrestled tough. It was a good overall day.”

Cole (133) went 2-2 on the day with his other victory coming over top-ranked Grand View’s Angelo Crinzi. Meanwhile, Smith (125) piled up four wins on Saturday after slipping in his his first match. His first victory came by fall over Northwestern’s Maxwell Klarenbeek.

Similarly, Burkhardt (197) won four-straight bouts after dropping down to the consolation bracket. The Milford native picked up a fall over Steven Barraza of Northwestern. Burkhardt ended up dropping an 11-4 decision to Grand View’s Derrick Hawkins in the third-place match.

A good portion of Bulldogs who helped the team to statement wins over No. 17 Dakota Wesleyan and No. 21 Midland on Thursday did not participate in the open. With the most important portion of the season coming up, Vote wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to rest up a few key guys.

All in all, Saturday’s efforts were a solid way to end a terrific week for the program.

“It was a good week. We’re starting to come together at the right time,” Vote said.

Concordia (8-7, 4-1 GPAC) has a light week coming up as they are in action just once – on Tuesday when they travel to Northwestern (4-5, 3-3 GPAC) for a conference dual at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs sit in second place in the GPAC standings.

Rivera makes it two-straight GPAC weekly honorees for Bulldog wrestling 

4 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a big week for Concordia University wrestling, junior Emilio Rivera has received GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Wrestler of the Week honors, as announced by the conference on Tuesday. It’s the second-straight week that the award has gone to a Bulldog as Rivera joins freshman Austin Fehlhafer as back-to-back winners.

Rivera ran his winning streak to five by earning two victories last week. Ranked 10th in the NAIA at 133 pounds, Rivera upset No. 17 Dakota Wesleyan’s sixth-ranked Richard Rios, 5-2, on Jan. 30 to give Concordia a 19-18 GPAC dual win. Earlier that day, Rivera also dominated Midland’s Joshua Heinzer on the way to a 10-1 major decision to aid a 25-13 team victory.

The Escondido, Calif., native improved to 17-6 overall and 7-1 in dual meets. He is now 8-0 against GPAC opponents and owns five pins on the season. Rivera is in his first season with the Bulldogs after transferring from Palomar College in California.

Rivera and the Bulldogs (8-7, 4-1 GPAC) return to action on Tuesday when they take on Northwestern (4-5, 3-3 GPAC) at 7 p.m. in Orange City, Iowa.

Two falls crucial in third-straight GPAC win

4 FEB 2014

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The 22nd-ranked Concordia wrestling team notched a pair of pins and a technical fall to make host Northwestern its third-straight GPAC victim. The Bulldogs endured an upset loss right at the top of the lineup, but rode yet another Austin Fehlhafer pin to a 23-16 win over the Red Raiders (4-6, 3-4 GPAC) at the Bultman Center on Tuesday night.

Concordia, 9-7 overall, improved its mark to 5-1 in GPAC duals, putting it right on the heels of first-place Morningside (4-0).

Both Fehlhafer (174) and Emilio Rivera (141) extended impressive individual winning streaks. With the team outcome still in doubt, Fehlhafer (24-8) delivered a big blow to the Red Raiders’ hopes by erasing Luis Rivera-Santiago in 1:12, making it 17-10 Bulldogs heading into the last three bouts. The win was Fehlhafer’s eighth in a row thanks to his GPAC-leading 17th fall of the campaign.

Rivera (18-6), named the GPAC wrestler of the week earlier in the day, bumped up a weight to 141 and was his usual dominant self. He moved to 9-0 against GPAC opponents by tossing around Tyler Hatch for a technical fall, giving Concordia an 8-4 lead at the time.

Later on Milford product Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) added the Bulldogs’ second fall of the night to clinch the team victory at 197 pounds. With Concordia up 17-10 in team scoring, Burkhardt (18-15) nailed Forrest Marx to the mat in 4:38 for his sixth pin on the season. He has won five of his last six matches.

On a night when Concordia split the 10 matches with Northwestern, the two pins from Bulldog rookies were crucial.

“They did a great job. They really competed and wrestled their entire matches,” second-year head coach Dana Vote said. “Fehlhafer took some good shots and ended up getting the pin. Burkhardt continued to wrestle and build on the lead.”

Northwestern made things interesting by taking a 10-8 lead halfway through the match. In the only battle between nationally-ranked wrestlers, No. 15 Diego Angelo Quintana (18-11) majored Concordia’s 13th-ranked Austin Mogg (12-6) at 125. The Red Raiders’ John Lynch (16-10) picked up a big win by seizing a 3-1 decision over No. 11 Enrique Barajas (13-11) at 149.

“I knew 125, 149 and 165 would be tough, but I thought we could win a couple,” Vote said.

Concordia’s two additional wins came by decision from Kodie Cole (13-13) at 133 and via Tommy Bailey (8-11) at 165.

Still, Vote came away from Tuesday’s dual wanting more.

“Everything we do is focused on building toward the regional tournament,” Vote said. “We want to finish well versus Hastings first. Right now we’re not satisfied. In areas where we need to pick things up, we took a step back. We want to keep attacking.”

The Bulldogs now have nine days until they return to action on Thursday, Feb. 13 when they hit the road for their final dual of the season. Hastings (1-7, 1-3 GPAC) will serve as the opponent for a match that begins at 7 p.m. A win will clinch a finish no lower than second in the GPAC dual standings for Concordia.

Due to inclement weather, Vote and the Bulldogs planned to spend Tuesday night in the Sioux City, Iowa, area before returning to Seward on Wednesday.

Bulldogs fall short in attempt to tie school record win total

13 FEB 2014

HASTINGS, Neb. – The 23rd-ranked Concordia wrestling team had its three-match conference win streak snapped by No. 29 Hastings on Thursday night. The Bulldogs, who attempted to equal the 1970-71 team’s school record of 10 dual wins in a season, suffered close setbacks at 157 and 197 en route to their first GPAC loss since Jan. 16. The Broncos won 21-12.

Second-year head coach Dana Vote’s team completes this season’s dual schedule with an overall mark of 9-8, including a second-place garnering 5-2 GPAC record.

For Vote, the most crucial thing is that his key guys are healthy and up to the task when the regional qualifier comes around in nine days.

“I think we’re sitting pretty good,” Vote said. “We need to make next week really important and get ready to be at our best.”

Concordia won four matches on the night – all by decision. The featured matchup came at 149 where a pair of nationally-ranked wrestlers went head-to-head. Bulldogs junior Enrique Barajas (No. 14 at 149) got the upper hand over Hastings’ Blake Fruchtl (No. 12 at 141) by a 5-3 decision. Barajas won for the fifth time in his last seven bouts to improve to 14-11 overall.

“It was a big match for Enrique,” Vote said. “He gutted it out. They were tied going into the third period. A takedown wins the match and he got a nice shot in. He stuck with it and won it.”

Concordia jumped on top 3-0 after the 133-pound match (both teams open at 125) thanks to a 7-3 win by Kodie Cole (14-13) over Austin Tarin. Additional victories came from Tommy Bailey (157; 9-11) and heavyweight Ceron Francisco (14-16), who ended the night on a high note with a 12-8 triumph.

The Broncos (2-10, 2-5 GPAC) earned six points each at 174 and 184, getting a pin from Tim Rice and then a forfeit to take control of the match.

At 157, the Bulldogs’ Austin Starkey fell by an 11-9 score. Milford native Ken Burkhardt Jr. later slipped, 8-7, after fighting back from a 5-0 deficit.

Standouts Austin Mogg (125; 12-6), Emilio Rivera (133; 18-6) and Austin Fehlhafer (174, 24-8) did not wrestle on Thursday night.

Next up for the Bulldogs is the North regional qualifying tournament hosted by Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, S.D., on Feb. 22. The top four finishers in each weight class earn automatic bids into the national bracket in addition to those who receive at-large selections.

Barajas tabbed GPAC wrestler of the week

18 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Junior Enrique Barajas became the third Bulldog grappler this season to be named GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Wrestler of the Week, as announced by the league on Tuesday morning. Barajas joins freshman Austin Fehlhafer and junior Emilio Rivera as the other teammates to collect weekly recognition.

In a light week for second-year head coach Dana Vote’s squad, Barajas notched the team’s most impressive win in the dual loss at Hastings on Feb. 13. The 149-pounder from Hayward, Calif., earned the victory by scoring a third-period takedown for a 5-3 decision over Blake Fruchtl, who is ranked 12th nationally at 141 pounds.

“It was a big match for Enrique,” Vote said last week. “He gutted it out. They were tied going into the third period. A takedown wins the match and he got a nice shot in. He stuck with it and won it.”

Barajas moved to 14-12 overall (four pins) on the season. He is ranked 14th in the NAIA and fourth in the North region at 149. He has won five of his last seven matches.

Barajas will be one of 12 Bulldogs who will compete on Saturday at the North Group Qualifying Tournament hosted by Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D. The top four finishers in each weight class earn trips to the national championships. There will also be 15 at-large selections out of the North.

Twelve Bulldog grapplers set for NOrth qualifier on Saturday

19 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Berths in the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships will be on the line when 12 Bulldogs begin action at the North Qualifying Group Tournament hosted by Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., on Saturday. The North is comprised of 11 teams, including all seven GPAC wrestling members as well as Dickinson State (N.D.), Jamestown (N.D.), Waldorf (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.

North breakdown by weight class:


Concordia competitors: Austin Mogg (12-6) and Dmitri Smith (12-11)

North top four (national rank in parentheses)
1. Oscar Marin (9), York
2. Diego Quintana (12), Northwestern
3. Josh Heinzer (15), Midland
4. Austin Mogg, Concordia 

Outlook: Austin Mogg is no stranger to national success having earned All-America status at the NCAA Division III level in 2010. This is the final chance for the senior, who dropped out of this week’s national rankings, to make some noise. Mogg is 1-3 against the three wrestlers ranked ahead of him in the region. He owns a win over York’s Oscar Marin. Meanwhile, Smith enters his first regional. He narrowly lost to Marin, 5-3, on Jan. 23.


Concordia competitors: Kodie Cole (14-13) and Emilio Rivera (18-6)

North top four (NR in parentheses)
1. Emilio Rivera (8), Concordia
2. Richard Rios (9), Dakota Wesleyan
3. Nathan Ryan (12), Morningside
4. Marcus Banducci, York

Outlook: Emilio Rivera is a slight favorite in a tight race for the North 133-pound title. Rivera’s 5-2 decision over Richard Rios helped boost him into the top spot in the region rankings. Rivera carries a six-match winning streak with an impressive major decision over No. 15-ranked 125-pounder Josh Heinzer included in that stretch. Kodie Cole, nationally-ranked at one point this season, has the potential to place in the top four. He has one loss apiece to the top three in the region – all by just a single point.


Concordia competitor: Alex Stepanek (15-14)

North top four (NR in parentheses)
1. Jason Arreola (5), York
2. Blake Fruchtl (12), Hastings
3. Kevin Olson (13), Morningside
4. Garret Lambrecht (16), Morningside 

Outlook: Alex Stepanek is ranked sixth in the North at 141 pounds. He will have to hold off at least one nationally-ranked wrestler in order to claim an automatic bid to nationals. The native of St. Paul, Neb., has come through with some big wins and owns a third-place claim at the Buena Vista Open to his credit.


Concordia competitors: Enrique Barajas (14-12) and Foster Bunce (14-8)

North top four (NR in parentheses)
1. Tyler Lashbrook (5), Morningside
2. John Lynch (8), Northwestern
3. Kyle Gerlach (11), Dakota Wesleyan
4. Enrique Barajas (14), Concordia 

Outlook: Enrique Barajas built momentum last week by knocking off No. 12-ranked 141-pounder Blake Fruchtl on the way to earning GPAC Wrestler of the Week recognition. Barajas has lost one hotly-contested match apiece to each of the three North grapplers ranked ahead of him. Freshman Foster Bunce holds one of the Bulldogs’ top winning percentages and is a capable performer as an underdog.


Concordia competitors: Tommy Bailey (9-11) and Austin Starkey (13-17)

North top four (NR in parentheses)
1. Tyler Johnson (5), Dickinson State
2. Aaron Lopez (8), York
3. Tyler McMichael (12), Midland
4. Zach Fishman (13), Northwestern 

Outlook: Not ranked among the North’s top six, Tommy Bailey and Austin Starkey will look to upset their way into top-four finishes at 157. It won’t be easy against a field that includes five grapplers ranked inside the top 15 nationally. Bailey and Starkey are both aiming for their first tournament place-finishes of the season.


Concordia competitors: none

North top four (NR in parentheses)
1. Sterling Terry (5), Midland
2. Trever Deverstern (6), Dakota Wesleyan
3. Patrick Nord (8), Jamestown
4. Jon Solano (14), Dickinson State 

Outlook: Midland’s Sterling Terry is the top-rated 165-pounder in a bracket that will not feature any Bulldogs.


Concordia competitor: Austin Fehlhafer (24-8)

North top four (NR in parentheses)
1. Joseph Sievert (4), Morningside
2. Anthony Pike (11), Briar Cliff
3. Joe Madison (15), York
4. Austin Fehlhafer, Concordia 

Outlook: Former Seward High School star Austin Fehlhafer gets his chance to prove that he has been underrated all season despite a gaudy 24-8 record and 17 pins. Provided he gets the opportunity, Fehlhafer will try to avenge earlier losses to both Joe Madison (D, 15-9) and Anthony Pike (D, 13-11). Concordia’s wins leader is red hot having come out on top in eight-straight matches. Fehlhafer is used to tournament success, as evidenced by his title at the Nebraska-Kearney Open this season and by his pair of runner up state high school finishes.


Concordia competitors: none

North top four (NR in parentheses)
1. Lane Oversen (7), Dickinson State
2. Randall Null (11), Northwestern
3. Rulin Pederson (13), Morningside
4. Tyler Sarringar (14), Dakota Wesleyan 

Outlook: Lane Oversen of Dickinson State receives top billing in a bracket devoid of Bulldogs.


Concordia competitor: Ken Burkhardt Jr. (18-16)

North top four (NR in parentheses)
1. Jesse Hellinger (4), Dickinson State
2. Grant Harrill (13), Hastings
3. Logan Paul Eickhoff (15), York
4. Jared McCoy, Morningside 

Outlook: Dickinson State’s Jesse Hellinger, a national runner up at 184 pounds in 2013, is a prohibitive favorite to win the 197-pound title. However, Ken Burkhardt Jr. has shown he can compete with just about anybody. He has been close in all three losses against York’s 15th-rated Logan Paul Eickhoff and his defeat at the hands of Grant Harrill came by a single point (8-7).


Concordia competitor: Ceron Francisco (14-16)

North top four (NR in parentheses)
1. Saia Lotulelei (3), York
2. Tyler Kacmarynski (5), Morningside
3. Abram Reynolds (10), Briar Cliff
4. Lonnie Brown (11), Midland

Outlook: The heavyweight bracket is loaded at the top with three wrestlers ranked in the top 10 nationally. In addition, Midland’s 11th-rated Lonnie Brown is a returning All-American. Freshman Ceron Francisco is green in terms of wrestling experience, but he has progressed enough to be a serious threat. He will have to be at his best to have a chance to earn a bid into the national championships.

Rivera captures North 133-pound title; five Bulldogs earn trips to nationals 

23 FEB 2014

MITCHELL, S.D. – There were few complaints from second-year head coach Dana Vote after his team put forth an impressive performance at the NAIA North Qualifying Group Tournament in Mitchell, S.D., on Saturday. Concordia junior Emilio Rivera won the North’s 133-pound title and was one of five Bulldogs to clinch berths in the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships.

As a team, the Bulldogs piled up 97 points to earn a runner-up among the 12 teams in the North. Only No. 10 Morningside (128.5 points) finished higher. Concordia’s eight pins were second to Dickinson State’s nine for the most on the day.

The Bulldogs, who finished second in the GPAC dual standings with a 5-2 conference mark, improved significantly in year two under Vote.

“It’s a great testament to how hard we’ve worked as a program and as a coaching staff,” said Vote of the team’s turnaround a year after failing to put a single wrestler in the national championships. “We went from not winning a match on the front side of the bracket to placing second as a team. Guys are peaking at the right time and we won matches against guys that beat us earlier in the season.”

Rivera, ranked eighth in the NAIA at 133 pounds, met Dakota Wesleyan’s ninth-ranked Richard Rios in the championship match. Rivera took a 6-3 decision to secure his second win over Rios in less than four weeks and seize the title.

The native of Escondido, Calif., went 4-0 on the day to move to 22-6 overall and bump his winning streak to 10. Rivera breezed to the semifinals with a

“He had a very good tournament,” Vote said. “He only gave up one offensive score all day in a real tough weight bracket.”

Concordia’s other four wrestlers to claim bids to the national championships were senior Austin Mogg (125, third place), junior Enrique Barajas (149, fourth place) and freshmen Austin Fehlhafer (174, second place) and Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197, third place).

Fehlhafer (27-9) added to more pins to give him 19 on the season. He wiped out his first two opponents by fall and then recorded a 14-7 decision over York’s 15th-ranked Joe Madison to move on to the championship bout. Fehlhafer could not hold a lead and dropped a 13-11 decision to Briar Cliff’s 11th-ranked Anthony Pike, who snared the 174-pound title.

“I thought he had a great day,” Vote said of Fehlhafer. “He wrestled strong and got those two pins right away. He’s put himself into good position going into the national championships.”

Mogg, frustrated recently by injuries, returned to form and went 4-1 at the qualifier. He bullied No. 12 Diego Quintana of Northwestern in a 17-4 major decision in the quarterfinals. Mogg’s lone loss came at the hands of 15th-rated Josh Heinzer of Midland by a count of 7-3.

“Mogg had a huge day,” Vote said. “He definitely deserves mention. He beat three returning national qualifiers and closed the gap on Heinzer, who beat him earlier in the season.”

Barajas’ day included a dominant 19-3 technical fall of Dakota Wesleyan’s Dusty Paulsen, whom Barajas defeated twice on Saturday. Both of the Heyward, Calif., native’s losses came by a single point, including a 5-4 setback against No. 5 Tyler Lashbrook of Morningside.

Burkhardt Jr. upset Morningside’s Jared McCoy (ranked fourth at 197 in the North) in sudden victory to reach the semifinals. That’s where Burkhardt fell victim to the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler, Jesse Hellinger of Dickinson State. Burkhardt closed the afternoon by beating Northwestern’s Forrest Marx and Dickinson State’s Skyler Carroll to nab third place.

A total of 12 Bulldogs competed on Saturday. Freshman Kodie Cole came close to earning a top-four finish needed for an automatic berth to nationals. Cole placed fifth at 133 and was chosen as the North’s first alternate for the national tournament.

The 57th annual NAIA Wrestling National Championships take place March 7-8 in Topeka, Kan. The NAIA will release the official list of national qualifiers on Thursday, Feb. 27. For more information on the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, click here.

Find bracket results from the North Qualifier atTrackWrestling.com.

North Group team scoring
1. Morningside College – 128.5
2. Concordia University – 97.0
3. Northwestern College – 96.5
4. York College – 96.0
5. Midland University – 92.5
6. Dickinson State University – 84.0
7. Dakota Wesleyan University – 73.5
8. Briar Cliff – 59.0
9. Waldorf College – 56.5
10. Hastings College – 55.0
11. Jamestown College – 42.5
12. Doane College – 15.0

Five Bulldog wrestlers garner all-conference mention

26 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Five Concordia wrestlers have been named to GPAC all-conference teams, as announced by the league on Wednesday. Junior Emilio Rivera, one of two Bulldog first-teamers, takes the highest honors as the Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Wrestler of the Year. Rivera is joined by freshman Austin Fehlhafer on the first team.
The trio of Enrique Barajas, Ken Burkhardt Jr. and Austin Mogg all receive all-GPAC honorable mention following national qualifying performances at the North Group Qualifying Tournament on Feb. 22.
Rivera will enter the national championships with an overall record of 22-6. The native of Escondido, Calif., dominated GPAC opponents, going 11-0 against conference wrestlers. He went on to win the 133-pound title at the NAIA North Qualifier and has an active 10-match win streak.
Fehlhafer, a Seward High School product, burst onto the scene as a freshman. He tops the GPAC with 19 pins. He is Concordia’s team leader with 27 wins (27-9 record) and finished runner up at the North Qualifier in the 174-pound weight class. His 10-match winning streak was snapped in the North title bout.
Barajas, a native of Hayward, Calif., is 18-14 (8-8 in duals) in his first season as a Bulldog after transferring from Sacramento City Community College. Barajas earned a fourth-place finish in the 149-pound bracket at the North Qualifier.
A native of nearby Milford, Burkhardt Jr. has won eight of his last 11 matches and claimed a third-place finish at 197 pounds in the North Qualifier. Burkhardt Jr. is 18-15 overall with seven pins. A regular in the dual lineup, Burkhardt went 10-7 in duals.
A former NCAA Division III All-American, Mogg found his groove again at the North Qualifier with a third-place finish as part of a performance that included a major decision over a nationally-ranked opponent. Mogg is 16-7 with four pins on the season.
Collectively, the Bulldogs’ five all-conference selections helped orchestrate a major turnaround in just a single year. Head coach Dana Vote’s squad went from a last-place North regional finish, 1-5 GPAC dual record and no national qualifiers last season to a runner-up North finish, 5-2 GPAC mark and five national qualifiers in 2013-14.

Rivera rides undefeated conference mark to GPAC Wrestler of the Year honors

26 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – It’s safe to say junior Emilio Rivera made a significant impact in his first season as a Bulldog. On Wednesday the 133-pound North qualifying group champion received Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Wrestler of the Year honors, beating out a group of seven other conference wrestlers that also captured regional titles.

“Emilio has done a great job transitioning from junior college to NAIA,” head coach Dana Vote said. “I cannot speak enough about Emilio he has turned himself into a dominant wrestler in the GPAC. Emilio winning this award is huge for him and the program both.”

Rivera, a transfer from Palomar College (Calif.), really hit his stride late in the season, putting together a 10-match winning streak that he will carry with him to the national championships. He was especially dominant against GPAC opponents, owning them to the tune of an 11-0 mark.

On the season, Rivera stands at 22-6 overall and 8-1 in dual meets with six total pins. Not only has he taken care of business against unranked foes, he has twice defeated Dakota Wesleyan’s ninth-ranked 133-pounder in Richard Rios and he dismantled Midland’s Josh Heinzer, the North’s 125-pound champion, by a 10-1 major decision in a dual on Jan. 30.

A native of Escondido, Calif., Rivera has not lost since Dec. 21 at the Desert Duals in Las Vegas, Nev., where one of his two losses to NAIA opponents came. Against wrestlers from the NAIA only, Rivera is 18-2.

Rivera played a huge role in the transformation of Concordia wrestling. The Bulldogs have gone from a last-place North regional finish, 1-5 GPAC dual record and no national qualifiers last season to a runner-up North finish, 5-2 GPAC mark and five national qualifiers in 2013-14.

“Last year we didn’t have one wrestler receive a conference award and now we have multiple guys receiving awards,” Vote said. “I am so proud of Emilio and the whole team for the hard work they have put into the program.”

Rivera (22-6): 2013-14 match-by-match

Ronald Wells (Colby CC) W-D 4-1 (1-0)

Trey Trujillo (Nebraska-Kearney) L-D 7-3 (1-1)

Alex Calderon (Wayne State) W-Pin 5:47 (1) (2-1)

Sergio Sanchez (York) W-D 5-3 (3-1)

Brandon Brown (York) W-D 6-3 (4-1)

Kodie Cole (Concordia) W-D 3-2 (5-1)

Aspen Kmiec (Midland) W-Pin 2:30 (2) (6-1)

Ronald Wells (Colby CC) W-D 6-3 (7-1)

Geoffrey Alexander (Maryland) L-Pin 1:39 (7-2)

Matthew Katusin (Lindenwood) L-Pin 1:39 (7-3)

Carlos Barreda (Buena Vista) W-Pin 3:37 (3) (8-3)

Brandon Brown (York) W-MD 19-5 (9-3)

Nicholas Drenth (Morningside) W-MD 12-4 (10-3)

Eric Franklin (Ellsworth CC) L-D 7-5 (10-4)

Tyler Hatch (Northwestern) W-MD 15-2 (11-4)

Andrew Clark (Grand View) L-Pin 2:32 (11-5)

Carter Tegeler (Morningside) W-D 8-5 (12-5)

Juan Zorrilla (Menlo) L-D 12-10 (12-6)

Jared Berlinger (Great Falls) W-D 9-4 (13-6)

Shawn Miller (Briar Cliff) W-Pin 4:29 (4) (14-6)

Derrick Hoffman (Doane) W-Pin 4:14 (5) (15-6)

Joshua Heinzer (Midland) W-MD 10-1 (16-6)

Richard Rios (Dakota Wesleyan) W-D 5-2 (17-6)

Tyler Hatch (Northwestern) W-TF 15-0 (18-6)

Matt Chambers (Dickinson State) W-Pin 1:02 (6) (19-6)

Richard Ortiz (Northwestern) W-MD 8-0 (20-6)

Raymond McQueen (Waldorf) W-D 7-4 (21-6)

Richard Rios (Dakota Wesleyan) W-D 6-3 (22-6)

NAIA officially names five Bulldog wrestlers as national qualifiers

27 FEB 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Second-year head coach Dana Vote will take a quintet of Bulldogs to the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. The 57th annual event will take place March 7 – 8 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan. The first of four sessions is set to get underway at 10 a.m. CST on March 7.

On Thursday, the NAIA officially named Concordia’s Austin Mogg (125), Emilio Rivera (133), Enrique Barajas (149), Austin Fehlhafer (174) and Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) as national qualifiers. All five received bids to nationals by placing in the top four of the NAIA North Group Qualifying Tournament held on Feb. 22. Rivera won the 133-pound title and was named the GPAC Wrestler of the Year on Wednesday.

All five will be making their first appearances at the NAIA national championships. However, all have experience competing under the spotlight. Mogg earned NCAA Division III All-America honors in 2010, Barajas and Rivera are former junior college All-Americans and Burkhardt Jr. and Fehlhafer have three combined high school state runner up finishes to their credit.

As a team, the Bulldogs have cracked the top 20 in the NAIA for the first time this season. New rankingsreleased on Wednesday placed Concordia at No. 20 nationally. In addition, all five national qualifiers appear in the top 16 of their respective weight classes.

NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video streaming company of 17 select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting the title bouts (Session IV) of the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships on March 8. Packages can be purchased for $9.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.

For additional information on the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, click here.

Bulldog national qualifiers

125 – Austin Mogg, Sr. | 16-7 | 4 pins | ranked No. 12 nationally

133 – Emilio Rivera, Jr. | 22-6 | 6 pins | ranked No. 6 nationally

149 – Enrique Barajas, Jr. | 18-14 | 5 pins | ranked No. 13 nationally

174 – Austin Fehlhafer, Fr. | 27-9 | 19 pins | ranked No. 10 nationally

197 – Ken Burkhardt Jr., Fr. | 21-16 | 7 pins | ranked No. 15 nationally

Wrestlers set for start of national championships on Friday

4 MAR 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – The 20th-ranked Concordia University wrestling team will travel six individuals to the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. The 57th annual event will play out Friday and Saturday at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan. The first of four sessions will get underway at 10 a.m. CST on Friday.

Concordia’s initial group of national qualifiers included senior 125-pounder Austin Mogg (16-7), junior 133-pounder Emilio Rivera (22-6), junior 149-pounder Enrique Barajas (18-14), freshman 174-pounder Austin Fehlhafer (27-9) and freshman 197-pounder Ken Burkhardt Jr. (21-16). Freshman 133-pounder Kodie Cole (18-15), the first alternate out of the NAIA’s North group, was added to the field on Tuesday.

Tied for the 14th-most national qualifiers in the NAIA, the Bulldogs have already taken a big step up from a year ago. They want more.

“I think it is great for our program to go from zero qualifiers to six,” head coach Dana Vote said. “I know that outsiders think it looks good for us, but I know the kids and coaches are not satisfied with it. The coaches and kids have high expectations for what we can do with this program. I feel that five is definitely a step in the right direction. I am very proud of how the guys have developed throughout the year.”

Rivera, the GPAC Wrestler of the Year, is ranked No. 6 nationally and enters the weekend with a 10-match winning streak. The former junior college All-American won the 133-pound North Qualifier title and appears poised to add another honor on the NAIA’s grandest stage.

“Emilio has definitely picked it up since Christmas break,” Vote said. “I feel that the sky is the limit for Emilio. He has had great preparation since regionals to nationals and I see great things coming from him.”

Like Rivera, the Bulldogs’ five other national qualifiers are new to the NAIA championships. However, each has plenty of experience competing under the microscope. Mogg has over 100 career wins and achieved All-America status at the NCAA Division III level in 2010. Barajas, similar to Rivera, was an All-American at a California junior college before transferring to Concordia.

All three freshmen carried impressive credentials upon graduating from local high schools. Fehlhafer medaled all three times he reached the Nebraska state championships, where he finished runner up twice while representing Seward High School. As a Milford High School standout, Burkhardt Jr. also went to state on three occasions, garnering one second-place claim. Cole, a native of Palmdale, Calif., won a California Interscholastic Federation title in 2013.

“It is the first time that any of these six have competed in NAIA nationals but they all have some experience with big tournaments so I feel that we will be just fine,” Vote said. “We have done all the right things to prepare and I feel the guys are ready to go.”

Concordia’s six national qualifiers have a combined record of 21-30 against other competitors in their respective national brackets (see list below). Rivera is 3-0 against fellow 133-pound qualifiers. That mark includes two wins over Dakota Wesleyan’s Richard Rios. All five of Fehlhafer’s wins over national qualifiers have come via pin.

Records vs. national qualifiers in weight class:
125 – Austin Mogg: 4-5
133 – Kodie Cole: 1-7
133 – Emilio Rivera: 3-0 (also holds win over 125-pound qualifier Josh Heinzer of Midland)
149 – Enrique Barajas: 6-7 (also holds win over 141-pound qualifier Blake Fruchtl of Hastings)
174 – Austin Fehlhafer: 5-5
197 – Ken Burkhardt Jr.: 2-6

I feel like all of our guys have a chance at being an All-American,” Vote said. “Mogg can wrestle with anyone in the country and he seems to be wrestling his best at the right time. Enrique beat a returning All-American twice in the same day at regionals. I think that right there proves he has the ability to be an All-American.

“Burkhardt and Fehlhafer are both freshman but are very strong and ready to compete at the national tournament. I am very happy where we are at right now with our training and I’m excited for the guys to go out there and show the nation what they’ve got.”

Each weight class will have at least one returning All-American in action, with the 141-pound and 184-pound event showcasing seven All-Americans.

NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video streaming company of 17 select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting the title bouts (Session IV) of the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships on March 8. Packages can be purchased for $9.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.

For additional information on the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, click here.

Mogg pins pair of top-five ranked opponents, moves to NAIA national semifinals 

7 MAR 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. – Few wrestlers shined on the big stage in the way that Concordia senior Austin Mogg did on day one of the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, held Friday at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan. Faced with a difficult draw, the El Reno, Okla., native simply pinned his way to the semifinals as part of a perfect 2-0 day.

A frustrating day of close losses for the rest of head coach Dana Vote’s additional five national qualifiers means Mogg is the only Bulldog who remains alive to grapple on Saturday. Junior Emilio Rivera (133) and freshman Austin Fehlhafer (174) both won once before being eliminated on Friday night.

Mogg (18-7), ranked No. 12 at 125, dominated his first match of the day and built a commanding lead before impressively pinning Campbellsville’s third-ranked Cody Steiner in 4:53. A tight quarterfinal bout in the evening turned into another pin when Mogg countered an aggressive move by fifth-rated Jake Stigall of Southern Oregon. Mogg whirled Stigall onto his back and finished him off in 5:39.

“Austin Mogg wrestled very well today – probably the best I’ve seen him wrestle in five years,” Vote said. “He’s dominated the tournament so far to get to the semifinals of the national tournament. That’s huge. I can’t say enough about him right now."

The 2010 NCAA Division III All-American, set to take on Grand View’s top-ranked Ryak Finch in one of Saturday’s semifinals, has overcome injury throughout this season and is wrestling at his best at the most opportune time.

“I realized I’m going to be hurt. I’m getting older,” Mogg said. “There’s really nothing I can do about it. I really just have to wrestle to my best ability, hurt or not. I have to show pride for my team.”

Rivera, the GPAC Wrestler of the Year, was never threatened in a 14-5 major decision over Andrew Burr of Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) to begin his tournament at 133 pounds. That’s when the heartbreak came for the native of Escondido, Calif. His 11-match win streak was snapped in a 6-5 quarterfinal loss to 10th-ranked Scottie Bonds of William Penn. It was more of the same in the consolation round as Indiana Tech’s Mitch Pawlak clipped Rivera, 7-6.

“Emilio’s a great kid. He works his tail off,” Vote said. “I feel like he deserves to be an All-American. He lost two close matches. We just have to build on it and come back next year.”

After struggling with Embry-Riddle’s 15th-ranked Jose Cruz, Fehlhafer rebounded in the consolation bracket by claiming his 20th victim by fall of the season. The Seward native took care of No. 12 Travis McIntosh of Campbellsville in 46 seconds. Fehlhafer ended his freshman campaign at 28-10 after getting pinned by Lindsey Wilson’s Erick Gomez.

Junior Enrique Barajas also dropped a tight elimination match, 7-5, at the hands of Kyle Terry of Campbellsville. Barajas went 0-2 in his first opportunity at the NAIA tournament.

A tough draw resulted in freshman Ken Burkhardt Jr. (Milford, Neb.) going up against a pair of top 10 nationally-ranked grapplers. Benedictine’s No. 5 Stephen Loosbrock dealt Burkhardt an 8-0 major decision loss. Concordia’s 197-pounder led No. 10 AJ Mott, 4-3, at the end of the second period before being eliminated by a 6-4 decision.

Freshman Kodie Cole, a late addition to the national qualifying field, fell in both of his matches and has been eliminated from the tournament. The native of Palmdale, Calif., suffered a 4-3 setback to 10th-ranked 133-pounder Joao Vicente of William Penn. Cole then lost 10-2 (major decision) to No. 6 Keaton Thomas of Lindsey Wilson.

The five losses by two points or less on Friday could be chalked up, at least in part, to inexperience on the national stage.

“It’s the youth showing,” Vote said. “We have six guys here. Five have never wrestled at a national tournament before. I think the pressure of being young and finding a way in those close matches was too much for us to be able to overcome today.”

In terms of team scoring, Concordia ranks 17th among the 39 teams represented at the national championships. The Bulldogs have amassed 19 points heading into Saturday.

NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video streaming company of 17 select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting the title bouts (Session IV) of the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships on March 8. Packages can be purchased for $9.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.

For additional national championships information, clickhere.

Mogg claims fifth-place, All-America honors as NAIA championships conclude 

8 MAR 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. – Concordia senior Austin Mogg remained in the hunt for a 125-pound national title when the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships resumed on Saturday morning. While those hopes were quickly dashed, Mogg earned his second career All-America place finish (first at the NAIA level) by claiming fifth.

As a team, the 20th-ranked Bulldogs totaled 20 points for a 22nd-place finish at the championship meet hosted inside the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan.

Mogg (19-9), who burst into Saturday’s semifinals by pinning two top-five nationally-ranked opponents, could not carry over the momentum he built on Friday. He began his day pitted against top-ranked and undefeated Ryak Finch of Grand View. Finch got an early takedown and never let Mogg get on the offensive in a 9-0 major decision.

After then getting wiped out via fall by Embry-Riddle’s eighth-ranked Sean Silva in what had been a close match, Mogg dropped down to the fifth-place bout. That’s where he defeated Southern Oregon’s Jake Stigall (7-2 decision) for the second time at the tournament. Mogg finished his career with 111 wins over three seasons with Buena Vista University and one with Concordia.

“It was tough to bounce back in that last match but he came out and finished strong and got fifth place,” said head coach Dana Vote. “He went out on top as an All-American. That’s huge for him.”

Of Concordia’s six national qualifiers, Mogg was the only one to advance past Friday. Both Austin Fehlhafer (174) and Emilio Rivera (133) were eliminated in the consolation bracket on Friday evening.

The program’s half a dozen national qualifiers and one All-American represents a huge improvement from last season when not a single Bulldog reached the national tournament. With Mogg and Alex Stepanek (141) the only seniors who competed on a regular basis in 2013-14, Vote has high expectations for what his team can accomplish next season.

“We have five guys that were here (Friday) wrestling that will all be back next year,” Vote said. “I think they got hungry and they saw how close we came in some matches. They’re ready to get back to the drawing board and start working for next season already.”

After going from last in the NAIA North Qualifying Group in 2012-13 to second this season, the Bulldogs expect another leap forward in 2014-15.

“I think we can make a huge jump again next year. I really do,” Vote said. “Where we finished, a lot of people would be satisfied but we were actually disappointed with where we finished. We want to crack that top 10 (nationally).”

Team scoring (FINAL)
1. Grand View 193.0
2. Great Falls 84.5
3. Montana State Northern 83.5
4. Southern Oregon 80.5
5. Lindsey Wilson 73.5
6. Cumberland Univ 59.5
6. Missouri Valley 59.5
8. Indiana Tech 56.0
9. Morningside 48.5
10. Campbellsville 41.5
10. Embry-Riddle 41.5
12. Dakota Wesleyan 35.0
13. Simpson 30.5
13. York 30.5
15. Dickinson State 29.5
16. Baker 26.0
16. Menlo 26.0
18. Midland 25.5
19. Cumberlands 25.0
20. Bethany 22.0
21. Hannibal-LaGrange 21.0
22. Concordia 20.0
22. William Penn 20.0
24. Hastings 19.5
25. Benedictine 19.0
25. Life 19.0
27. Missouri Baptist 15.5
28. Oklahoma City 13.5
29. Calumet College of St Joseph 11.0
30. Briar Cliff 6.0
30. Northwestern 6.0
32. Brewton-Parker 5.5
33. Waldorf 4.5
34. St. Andrews 3.5
34. Wayland Baptist 3.5
36. Jamestown 3.0
37. Graceland 1.0
38. Truett-McConnell 0.0
38. West Virginia Tech 0.0

Wrestling earns top 10 academic ranking on NWCA list 

9 APR 2014

SEWARD, Neb. – Among the 43 wrestling programs in the NAIA, Concordia University ranks ninth on the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association list of top academic teams. The ranking, released this week by the NWCA, combines the GPAs of 12 varsity wrestlers for each team in the NAIA. Among GPAC schools, the Bulldogs placed second with their collective GPA of 3.119.

Individually, Concordia junior Enrique Barajas was named NAIA All-Academic by the NWCA. The exercise science major from Hayward, Calif., carries a GPA of 3.6, highest of any of head coach Dana Vote’s national qualifiers.

Barajas was one of six Bulldogs to qualify for the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. He finished his first season at Concordia with a record of 18-16.

This announcement is yet another example of the impressive turnaround orchestrated by Vote, who just completed his second year. This past season the Bulldogs placed second at the regional and conference levels and qualified six individuals for nationals, a year after a sixth-place GPAC finish and no national qualifiers.

NWCA All Academic NAIA Wrestling Team
School – GPA
1. Dakota Wesleyan University – 3.33
2. Bethany College – 3.3275
3. University of Great Falls – 3.32
4. Cumberland University – 3.299
5. Grand View University – 3.196
6. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.) – 3.193
7. Indiana Tech – 3.144
8. Campbellsville University – 3.126
9. Concordia – 3.119
10. Life – 3.108