|Nov. 4||Baker University Dan Harris Open||Baldwin City, Kan.||Results|
|Nov. 9||*Dakota Wesleyan University Dual||Mitchell, S.D.||W, 58-0||1-0, 1-0|
|Nov. 10||Dakota Wesleyan University Open||Mitchell, S.D.||Results|
|Nov. 15||*(13) Midland University Dual||Fremont, Neb.||W, 21-17||2-0, 2-0|
|Nov. 17||University of Nebraska - Kearney Open||Kearney, Neb.||Results|
|Dec. 7||Benedictine College||Seward, Neb.||W, 51-6||3-0|
|Dec. 8||Doane University Open||Crete, Neb.||Results|
|Dec. 16||(20) Eastern Oregon University||Chandler, Ariz.||L, 12-24||3-1|
|Dec. 16||(8) Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University||Chandler, Ariz.||L, 12-35||3-2|
|Dec. 16||Life Pacific College||Chandler, Ariz.||W, 49-(-1)||4-2|
|Dec. 16||(5) University of Providence||Chandler, Ariz.||L, 15-26||4-3|
|Jan. 5||Hastings College Cusatis Open||Hastings, Neb.||Results|
|Jan. 18-19||Missouri Valley College Invite||Marshall, Mo.||18 of 41|
|Jan. 20||Roger Denker Open||Warrensburg, Mo.||Results|
|Jan. 26||*Hastings College||Seward, Neb.||W, 42-6||5-3, 3-0|
|Jan. 26||*University of Jamestown||Seward, Neb.||W, 40-0||6-3, 4-0|
|Jan. 26||*Doane University||Seward, Neb.||W, 44-9||7-3, 5-0|
|Jan. 26||*Briar Cliff University||Seward, Neb.||W, 25-14||8-3, 6-0|
|Jan. 31||*Northwestern College Dual||Orange City, Iowa||W, 28-10||9-3, 7-0|
|Feb. 2||Morningside College Sioux City Open||Sioux City, Iowa||Results|
|Feb. 7||Morningside College Dual||Seward, Neb.||L, 12-27||9-4, 7-1|
|Feb. 16||GPAC Wrestling Tournament Championships||Orange City, Iowa||4 of 9|
|Mar. 1-2||NAIA National Wrestling Championships||Des Moines, Iowa||26th|
|Weight Class||Name||Yr.||Hometown||Previous School|
|125||Dakota Brace||Fr.||Haughton, LA||Airline HS|
|157||Issiah Burks||So.||Hemet, Calif.||Hemet HS|
|141/149||Kyle Carey||Sr.||Lander, Wyo.||Lander Valley HS|
|174||Blake Castillo||Jr.||Spring Hill, Fla.||Pasco HS|
|174||Deandre Chery||Jr.||Miami Gardens, Fla.||North Miami HS|
|174||Dylan Clarke||Sr.||Burnt Hills, N.Y.||Ballston Lake HS / Cerritos College|
|165||Gabe Crawford||Jr.||Virginia Beach, Va.||Salem HS|
|133/141||Cameron Devers||Jr.||Holly Springs, N.C.||Holly Springs HS|
|165/174||Stephen Duffy||Fr.||Kenesaw, Neb.||Kenesaw HS|
|125||Giancarlo Facio||Fr.||San Jacinto, Calif.||San Jacinto HS|
|174||Walker Fisher||Sr.||Ashland, Neb.||Ashland-Greenwood HS|
|133/141||Alberto Garcia||Sr.||Escondido, Calif.||Palomar College|
|165||Chucky Hedrick||Sr.||Winston-Salem, N.C.||Pratt CC|
|285||Chris James||Sr.||Topeka, Kan.||Highland Park HS|
|184||Tyler Jorgensen||So.||Temecula, Calif.||Temecula Valley HS|
|141/149||Chris Kimball||Sr.||San Marcos, Calif.||Palomar College|
|149||Cody Lambert||So.||Greenwood, Neb.||Ashland-Greenwood / Minot State|
|197||Cyrus Marshall||So.||Columbus, Neb.||Columbus HS|
|184||Bryan McGahan||Fr.||Hershey, Neb.||Hershey HS|
|184||Darrin Miller||Jr.||Othello, Wash.||Royal HS|
|184||Demitrius Miller||Sr.||Pueblo, Colo.||Centennial HS|
|133||Zach Moistner||Jr.||Fallbrook, Calif.||Fallbrook HS / Palomar College|
|184/197||Joshua Nelsen||Sr.||Marysville, Kan.||Marysville HS|
|165||Cyrus Scott||So.||Rochester, Minn.||Mayo HS|
|285||Michael Stann||So.||Temecula, Calif.||Temecula Valley HS|
|157||Keanu Tom||Sr.||Downey, Calif.||Cerritos College|
|149||Jason Watkins||Fr.||Palmer, AK||Palmer HS|
|125||Mario Ybarra||Fr.||Scotssbluff, Neb.||Scottsbluff HS|
Levi Calhoun, Head Coach
Junior Lule, Assistant Coach
Dmitri Smith, Graduate Assistant Coach
Oct. 4, 2018
It’s no matter that they are now at rival schools. They will be forever inked. In the middle of a recent interview, now Concordia graduate assistant coach Dmitri Smith proudly lifted up the left sleeve of his shirt to reveal an important part of his identity.
The bond became so strong between a particular group of four seniors on the 2016-17 Bulldog wrestling team that each one got a tattoo of the Concordia cross logo. It’s a symbol that means a lot to Smith and close friends Ken Burkhardt Jr., Kodie Cole and Ceron Francisco.
The placement on the body of the tattoo for each of them is a little different because as Burkhardt Jr. explains, “We’re all from different walks of life.”
They converged on Seward, Neb., in 2013 from the states of California, North Carolina and Nebraska, sharing a similar passion for the sport of wrestling. While Francisco continues a unique journey as a resident athlete at the University of Virginia, Burkhardt Jr. (Midland), Cole (Doane) and Smith (Concordia) are all now first-year graduate assistant wrestling coaches within the GPAC.
Says Bulldog head wrestling coach Levi Calhoun, “It’s awesome. Even though a couple of those guys are at rival schools, we’re still extremely proud to call them Concordia alums and to call them Bulldogs. They’re still part of the family. They always will be. It shows the kind of men Concordia puts out. People are reaching out and trying to get them involved in their programs. It’s a big point of pride for us to be able to say we’ve got these guys out there still involved in the wrestling community and making an impact in people’s lives.”
There will likely never be a class quite like it again for Concordia wrestling – and it’s not just about what they accomplished on the mat. Francisco was a transcendent figure on campus who made it cool for people to come to wrestling duals even without any knowledge of the sport. Ceron, Burkhardt Jr. and Cole combined for seven All-America awards and helped spring the program to GPAC championships in three-straight seasons.
They have a knowledge of what it takes to lift a program up from the ground up. That type of knowledge paired with their work ethic is invaluable. The architect behind Concordia’s wrestling rise is now Midland head coach Dana Vote, who recruited that vaunted 2016-17 senior class. Now he is reunited with Burkhardt Jr. in Fremont.
“What we had going at Concordia was special,” Vote said. “It was a special group of kids. I still have a close relationship with pretty much all of them. I talk to them quite a bit. I want nothing but the best for them. It is a cool thing to see them spread what we had throughout the conference. Hopefully it does good things for the conference.”
It was undeniably impressive in how the group boosted the Bulldogs up from the bottom of the conference to the top and from a national afterthought to one of the NAIA’s top 10 squads. Take the words from Smith as just one reason for the success.
“We just really had a lot of commitment to the program and the sport of wrestling,” Smith said. “For four years it was our lifestyle. We really cared a lot about what we put into it.”
And they cared about each other a lot. Still do. There may be some playful trash talk leading up to matches this winter, but it really is all in good fun. There’s a mutual respect between all of the aforementioned coaches and pupils. When they go head-to-head, of course they want to beat each other. But they will still be the same friends when they step away from the mat.
“When it comes to it, I care about every single one of them,” Burkhardt Jr. said. “I respect every single one of them. When it comes to competition, business is business. Nobody’s feelings should be hurt. At the end of the day, we’re just going to get back at it and work harder. It’s part of the process. It’s part of wrestling.”
Even if it wasn’t top of mind back then, Calhoun recognized traits that would support them well in their future endeavors as coaches. When Calhoun arrived as an assistant at Concordia prior to their junior seasons, he quickly came to realize who the leaders in the room were.
“Those were always the guys who were in the room getting extra workouts,” Calhoun said. “Even though they weren’t the seniors of the team at the time, they were the leaders of the team. That was pretty obvious. Immediately they were the guys everybody was turning to. They were the first guys to come and introduce themselves to me when I got here and make sure that I got to know them.”
Vote says it will be fun seeing each of them around at tournaments. Vote also brought current Concordia assistant Junior Lule into the Bulldog wrestling program. His stamp remains on a program looking to get back to the top in the same manner it did during a breakthrough 2014-15 campaign.
The trophies from those seasons remain in the case, but that’s not what those four bonded Bulldogs will remember most.
Says Burkhardt Jr., “It’s more than awards, honestly. It’s more about the lasting impression that we made and the culture we helped create. We have Concordia tattoos that symbolize the brotherhood we found there. We viewed ourselves as a foundation that the program could build upon.”
Added Vote, “I love seeing the guys around the conference, to continue to give back to the sport of wrestling with what they got out of it. It will be fun seeing them around the tournaments.”
In case anyone was wondering, Concordia will dual at Midland on Dec. 29 and then host Doane as part of the GPAC duals on Jan. 26. Both dates will serve as reunions of sort – and reminders of memories made in the not-so-distant past. Should any of the Bulldog four forget, all any of them has to do is look down at that ink.
It’ll be there forever. Said Smith after revealing his tattoo, “We have a lot of pride in this program.”
Oct. 25, 2018
2017-18 Dual Record: 8-8 overall, 5-3 GPAC (5th)
2018 GPAC Tournament Finish: 4th
2018 NAIA National Championships finish: 22nd
Head Coach: Levi Calhoun (1st year)
Returning National Qualifier: 174 Deandre Chery (Jr.).
Other Key Returners: 141 Cameron Devers (Jr.); 174 Walker Fisher (Sr.); 184 Darrin Miller (Jr.); 184 Josh Nelsen (Sr.)
Key Losses: 133 Giovanni Castillo; 125 Jerry Stepps III.
Key Newcomers: 165 Issiah Burks (Fr.); 125 Gian Facio (Fr.); 133 Alberto Garcia (133); 133/141 Zack Moistner (Jr.); 285 Michael Stann (Fr.); 125 Mario Ybarra (Fr.).
2017-18 GPAC All-Conference: Giovanni Castillo (first team); Jerry Stepps III (first team); Deandre Chery (second team); Josh Nelsen (second team); Cameron Devers (honorable mention); Walker Fisher (honorable mention).
2018 NAIA All-Americans: 133 Giovanni Castillo (5th).
Not far removed from celebrating a third GPAC championship season in a row, the Concordia University wrestling program hopes to grow from some of the bumps in the road experienced during the 2017-18 campaign. However, there were positive developments with three Bulldogs qualifying for the NAIA national championships for the first time and the demonstration of competitiveness within the GPAC. All the while, a couple of grapplers with exciting potential were redshirted.
Now at the controls, former NAIA All-American Levi Calhoun takes over as head coach after spending three seasons as the program’s lead assistant. Calhoun lent his services to Concordia’s GPAC championship seasons in 2015-16 and 2016-17. The program hopes to taste that glory again, and sooner rather than later.
“If you’re competing, your goal is to win,” Calhoun said. “We talk about it. One of our goals is to win conference. I feel like if that’s not your goal, then what are we doing? We should be working to win titles. Our guys should be working to win individual GPAC titles and individual national titles. If we’re not doing that, what are we doing? I tell the guys every time that you should want to be better. You should want to be the best every time you walk into the room.”
The Bulldog wrestling room includes six competitors who received mention in the preseason conference rankings (three nationally ranked). In terms of 2017-18 success, most notable is junior Deandre Chery, the reigning 174-pound GPAC champion and a national qualifier. The native of Miami Gardens, Fla., made huge strides as a sophomore, going 25-15 with a team high 13 pins. Rightfully so, he’s ranked No. 1 in the GPAC and eighth in the NAIA at 174 to begin the campaign.
Chery’s trajectory resembles that of several of the program’s high profile performers in recent years – spend a rookie season developing and learning how to win before transforming into a well-oiled machine capable of reaching the podium come March. The podium could quite literally be the next step up for Chery.
“He’s got a different mentality,” Calhoun said. “He may not be technically the soundest wrestler but he works hard and he wrestles with a lot of passion and a lot of fire. When he gets on top of somebody, that’s where he’s dangerous. It’s no secret. He’s a dangerous wrestler on top. His nickname is psycho because when he gets on top he goes into a different mode. We’re working on honing the other parts of his game, but he’s just a fun wrestler to watch because he will fight through every position.”
A senior at 184-pounds, Josh Nelsen (ranked second in his weight class in the GPAC) qualified for the 2017 NAIA national championships. Nelsen, seniors Walker Fisher (174) and Keanu Tom (157), juniors Cam Devers (141) and Darrin Miller (184) and sophomore Cyrus Marshall (197) join Chery as returners who earned the right to compete at the 2018 GPAC championships. Sophomores Tyler Jorgensen (174) and Cody Lambert (149) also gained significant experience last season.
Additionally, Fisher (No. 4 at 174) and Miller (No. 4 at 184) boast preseason conference rankings. One of the team’s outspoken leaders, Fisher has been an overachiever since arriving via Ashland-Greenwood High School. He has one more shot at reaching the national championships and he isn’t going to let it go to waste. For Fisher and many of his teammates, confidence is key.
“The biggest one that I’m still working on is confidence,” Fisher said. “As a sophomore I just kind of threw myself into the fire. I wasn’t confident in my abilities. I knew I was a decent wrestler, but in any of those tight matches I usually fell on the shorter end of the stick. I think junior year is where I first started to turn that around. I would get into a tight match and I was confident that I would succeed and get a lot of wins. I think that was a breakthrough.”
Calhoun has plenty of depth at the 184 with Jorgensen, Miller and Nelsen all candidates to fill the role. Nelsen put together a solid 24-15 record last season and came up just a single victory short at the conference championships of locking up an automatic bid to nationals. Devers could also be on the brink of a national berth. He started out 11-1 with a title at the Dan Harris Open last season before finishing 25-9.
Then there are the newcomers. The Concordia debut of 133-pounder Alberto Garcia is highly anticipated. He has the ability to capably fill the shoes of departed 2018 All-American Giovanni Castillo at the same weight. The Bulldogs went back to the well once again to land Garcia from Palomar College in California (the same place Concordia found current assistant coach Junior Lule). Said Calhoun of Garcia, “He’s one of those guys who is tough to beat just because he has a different style. He has the potential to be on top of that podium.”
Another transfer from Palomar, junior Zack Moistner (133/141), also figures to have an opportunity to make an immediate impact. Additionally, the freshman class includes the likes of potential contributors Issiah Burks (165), Gian Facio (125), Michael Stann (285) and Mario Ybarra (125).
A native of Scottsbluff, Neb., Ybarra has drawn his share of praise for his work in the room this preseason. If you didn’t know better, you would never guess he’s just a rookie. Says Calhoun, “The kid is one of those guys who came in and didn’t act like a freshman. He’s come in and gone to work. He’s put his nose down. He looks like a senior in the room right now.”
Fisher also lauded the group of young grapplers on the roster. Many are going to push for spots in the dual lineup and for tournament place finishes throughout the season.
“A big thing is a lot of our underclassmen and freshmen have been stepping up,” Fisher said. “A lot of times freshmen come in and are kind of bashful or holding back. I think they all understand that they’re a pretty big part of what we’re trying to do. We have a lot of them scrapping and putting in the work.”
This is a time for optimism within any wrestling program. The Bulldog wrestling program certainly has it. Concordia also has a roster full of wrestlers still trying to prove themselves, as well as a new head coach ready to run with this opportunity.
“I’ve learned a lot from a lot of people,” Calhoun said. “I’ve worked for four different head coaches and I’ve learned something from all of them. That allowed me to develop my own way of doing things, my own philosophy and my own way of approaching my guys. The coolest part is just be able to say, this is the product we’re going to put forward and this is the way we’re going to do it.”
Calhoun will officially make his head coaching debut on Sunday, Nov. 4 when the Bulldogs compete at the Dan Harris Open hosted by Baker University (Baldwin City, Kan.).
Nov. 4, 2018
BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – Levi Calhoun’s tenure as head wrestling coach is off and running. The Bulldogs got started Sunday morning (Nov. 4) at the 10th annual Dan Harris Open hosted by Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan. Junior Deandre Chery opened up the season in a big way by winning the 174-pound title to headline the efforts of 16 Concordia competitors in a field that numbered in the range of 150.
Chery, redshirt freshman Michael Stann (second at 285), freshman Mario Ybarra (third at 125) and senior Josh Nelsen (fourth at 184) all turned in place finishes at the Harris Open. Collectively, the Bulldogs combined for a record of 33-28 on the day.
“I thought the guys competed well,” Calhoun said. “That’s all I asked is that they competed every second of every match and they did that. There was no lack of effort on anyone’s part. All of our new guys got their first career wins, which was cool. Overall as a team, our effort was where it needs to be.”
A defending GPAC champion and returning national qualifier, Chery appears to be in for a big year. The native of Miami Gardens, Fla., entered this season ranked No. 1 in the GPAC and eighth nationally in the 174-pound weight class. Chery blazed to the championship match with three-straight pins including one over Midland’s 13th-ranked Stephon Gray. Then in the title bout, Chery eked out a 3-2 decision over Jacob Mintzmyer of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO).
“He was absolutely dominant in those first three matches,” Calhoun said. “It was just nice to see him come out that way. He was on fire and he was ready to wrestle. He wrestled a great tournament. It’s the best I’ve seen him wrestle in his three years at Concordia. I’m super excited about his season. If he continues to wrestle like he did today, he’s definitely going to have a shot at getting on the podium.”
Ybarra, who hails from Scottsbluff, Neb., possesses some of the most tantalizing potential among the freshman class. He bounced back from a loss by major decision in his first match to go 4-1 on the day. He ultimately won the third-place tussle by major decision, 13-2, over NEO’s Jeffir Juanes.
Chery, Nelsen and Ybarra all tied for a team high with four wins on Sunday. Nelsen faced a stiff challenge right out of the chute by tangling with the NAIA’s second-ranked 184-pounder in Jacob Smith of Baker. Smith topped Nelsen, 9-4, in the third-place matchup. Prior to that loss, Nelsen claimed a victory by major decision and by pin during his run.
Stann (Temecula, Calif.) may have been one of the biggest surprises of the season’s first day. Stann won his first three matches on Sunday before a loss to Antonio Andrade (NEO) in the heavyweight title bout. Stann put himself in the championship by pinning Baker’s Jake Miller in the semifinals.
Stann, Blake Castillo (174) and Darrin Miller (184) recorded three wins apiece. Kyle Carey (141), Cam Devers (149) and Zack Moistner (133) each collected two victories on the day.
Concordia now looks forward to spending next weekend in Mitchell, S.D. The Bulldogs will dual Dakota Wesleyan on Friday (Nov. 9) at 7 p.m. before competing in the Dakota Wesleyan Open the next day.
Said Calhoun, “There are some things we need to clean up. There were some things we noticed today that need to be fixed or honed in on a little bit, but the focus will be the same as it always is. We want to get better every day and get ready to compete. We’re ready to get into dual season.”
Nov. 7, 2018
MITCHELL, S.D. – A group of roughly 18 wrestlers will make the trip to Mitchell, S.D., this weekend for both a dual and an open tournament hosted by Dakota Wesleyan. The Concordia University wrestling team will go head-to-head with the Tigers on Friday night in the first conference dual of 2018-19 for both sides. The Bulldogs are coming off a 2017-18 season in which they placed fifth in the GPAC dual standings.
Friday’s dual is set to get underway at 7 p.m. CT. The Dakota Wesleyan Open on Saturday will get started at 9 a.m. The dual can be streamed live via Dakota Wesleyan’s Stretch Internet portal.
Formerly a three-year assistant on staff, Levi Calhoun made his official head coaching debut last week at the Dan Harris Open hosted by Baker University (Kan.). Sixteen Bulldogs combined for 31 wins and four place finishes. The standout among them was junior Deandre Chery, who won the 174-pound title at the event. During his dominant run, Chery went 4-0 while ending three matches with pins in the first period. Michael Stann (second at 285), Mario Ybarra (third at 125) and Josh Nelsen (fourth at 184) also put together place finishes.
After winning a GPAC title and qualifying for nationals last season, Chery entered this season with most hype among Bulldogs. He started the campaign ranked first in the GPAC and No. 8 nationally at 174 pounds. Alberto Garcia (10th at 133) and Nelsen (13th at 184) also appeared in the NAIA preseason rankings. Garcia topped the GPAC rankings at 133 in the preseason. Meanwhile, Nelsen is ranked second in the conference at 184.
The projected dual lineup for Friday (see below) includes five returners and five newcomers. Calhoun has high hopes for Ybarra, who helps solidify the top of the lineup. At heavyweight, Stann has already made a splash by advancing to the championship match at the Harris Open. In last season’s meeting with Dakota Wesleyan, Concordia rolled to a 55-0 win. Projected starters in Cam Devers and Nelsen turned in two of the team’s five pins in that victory.
The Tigers have a first-year head coach in Casey Mouw. Dakota Wesleyan’s one wrestler to appear in the GPAC preseason rankings is junior Chris Wheeler, rated sixth at 165 pounds. The Tigers went 0-7 last season in conference duals.
After wrapping up in Mitchell this weekend, the Bulldogs will then look forward to a dual at reigning GPAC tournament champion Midland on Thursday, Nov. 15.
Projected dual lineup
125 – Mario Ybarra (4-1)
133 – Zack Moistner (2-2)
141 – Kyle Carey (2-2)
149 – Cam Devers (2-2)
157 – Issiah Burks (1-2)
165 – Jason Watkins (1-2)
174 – Deandre Chery (4-0)
184 – Josh Nelsen (4-2)
197 – Darrin Miller (3-2)
285 – Michael Stann (3-1)
Nov. 10, 2018
MITCHELL, S.D. – The Concordia University wrestling team enjoyed an extended stay in Mitchell, S.D., over the weekend. Mitchell was the site of both the season’s first dual and the Dakota Wesleyan University Open. In Friday (Nov. 9)’s action, the Bulldogs pummeled Dakota Wesleyan, 58-0. Then in tournament action on Saturday (Nov. 10), 15 grapplers represented Concordia and combined for 34 wins and five place finishes.
The dual win on Friday marked the first in Levi Calhoun’s head coaching tenure. Calhoun has now presided over two tournaments so far on the young season.
“I think we made improvements on last weekend,” Calhoun said. “We put in a good week of work and made some adjustments that we needed to make. It showed on the mat. The effort was there by every guy, every minute of every match. All we ask is for our guys to compete.”
A quick dual was to be expected on Friday evening with the Tigers forfeiting half of the 10 weight classes. In the five matches that were contested, the Bulldogs were about as dominant as they could have possibly been. Cameron Devers (149), Issiah Burks (157) and Jason Watkins (165) each earned pins while Zack Moistner (133) and Michael Stann (285) both won by technical fall.
After watching Friday’s dual, defending GPAC champion Deandre Chery got back to the mat on Saturday and went 5-1 with a third-place finish at 174 pounds. Chery’s lone defeat came at the hands of highly-rated Kolton Eischens of NCAA Division II St. Cloud State University (Minn.). Known for a propensity to quickly wipe out his foes, Chery notched two more pins on Saturday and ended his day with a 9-4 decision over Augustana University (S.D.)’s Kolby Kost in the third-place match.
Just like a week ago at the Dan Harris Open, Chery, freshman Mario Ybarra (125) and Stann made nice impressions. Each of those three won five matches on Saturday.
“Deandre led the pack again,” Calhoun said. “He was focused and had a great tournament. Then of course Mario did the same thing – lost on the front side and battled his way back. He wrestled like a seasoned veteran. He wrestles hard and refuses to give up positions. Michael Stann again had a great tournament. It’s not as much of a surprise since he made the finals last week. He just wrestled smart.”
Calhoun also made mention of the depth the team possesses at 184 with the trio of Tyler Jorgensen, Josh Nelsen and Darrin Miller. Jorgensen and Nelsen both made the semifinals of that particular weight class at the DWU Open. Jorgensen, Nelsen and Miller recorded two victories apiece. At 157, Burks put together a 3-2 day with one pin.
Stann and Ybarra were not able to place all the way out due to the rule that limits collegiate wrestlers to six matches in one day. Stann got on a roll after losing by decision in round one. He pinned four of his next five opponents. Four of Ybarra’s five wins came by decision with another resulting in a technical fall.
GPAC dual action will continue on Thursday (Nov. 15) when the Bulldogs will be in Fremont, Neb., for a 7 p.m. matchup with 13th-ranked Midland, the defending GPAC tournament champion. Concordia will attempt to avenge last season’s pair of dual defeats that came at the hands of the Warriors.
Said Calhoun, “Our preparation will be the same as always. We’re focused on Midland, the defending conference tournament champs. That’s where we want to get back to. We’re going to be prepared and ready to go out and battle.”
Nov. 13, 2018
SEWARD, Neb. – If the Concordia University wrestling program is to ascend back to the top of the GPAC pecking order, it will have to conquer challenges like the one it will face on Thursday. That’s when the Bulldogs will continue conference dual action by tangling with 13th-ranked Midland. The dual will get started at 7 p.m. CT from the Wikert Event Center in Fremont, Neb. Head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad will also compete at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open on Saturday.
Stay tuned to TrackWrestling.com for live updates from both of this week’s events. Midland will provide a live stream on Thursday via its Stretch Internet portal. The tournament at Kearney will get started at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Matchups will Midland now come with added intrigue since former Concordia head coach Dana Vote (2012-16) took over the top job for the Warriors prior to last season. Vote has now been named a GPAC coach of the year three times (twice at Concordia) after having led Midland to the GPAC tournament title in 2018. Five Warrior wrestlers garnered national rankings in the preseason with Julian Gaytan checking in at No. 2 at 125 pounds. Gaytan and David Berg (141) are returning GPAC champions for Midland.
The Bulldogs moved their conference dual record to 27-3 since the start of the 2014-15 season by pummeling Dakota Wesleyan, 58-0, last week in the opening dual of the campaign. While half of the 10 weight classes were forfeited by the Tigers, the other five were dominated by Concordia. Cam Devers (149), Issiah Burks (157) and Jason Watkins (165) each pinned their opponents while Zack Moistner (133) and Michael Stann (285) earned victories by technical fall.
So far this season, defending 174-pound GPAC champion Deandre Chery has backed up his preseason rankings of No. 1 in the GPAC and No. 8 in the NAIA. He owns a 10-1 record that includes five pins and tournament place finishes of first at the Dan Harris Open and third at the Dakota Wesleyan Open. Freshman Mario Ybarra is 10-2 having also placed at the aforementioned tournaments. At the heavyweight spot, Stann has made a big early season splash by going 9-2 with five pins. He was a finalist in the bracket at the Harris Open.
Concordia will attempt to avenge two losses that occurred last season against Midland. The Warriors won those duals by scores of 27-12 (NWCA National Duals) and 31-12 in a matchup that took place inside Walz Arena. Based on the probable lineups, the only head-to-head bout between nationally-ranked foes will be at 174 where Chery will go up against 13th-ranked Stephon Gray. Chery already pinned Gray as part of his championship run at the Harris Open. Berg is not listed in Midland’s probable lineup.
Calhoun expects about 15 of his guys to wrestle on Saturday at UNK. That is the same number of competitors the Bulldogs entered into last week’s Dakota Wesleyan Open.
125 – Mario Ybarra
133 – Zack Moistner
141 – Cam Devers / Kyle Carey
149 – Cam Devers / Kyle Carey
157 – Issiah Burks
165 – Jason Watkins
174 – No. 8 Deandre Chery
184 – No. 13 Josh Nelsen / Darrin Miller
197 – No. 13 Josh Nelsen / Darrin Miller
285 – Michael Stann
125 – No. 2 Julian Gaytan
133 – No. 13 Jonas Gaytan
141 – Addison Johnson
149 – Tristian Snover / Sam Dunwell
157 – Tristan Snover / Sam Dunwell
165 – No. 9 Dom Evans
174 – No. 13 Stephon Gray
184 – Devin Brown / Turah Reed
197 – Dom Freeseha
285 – Alton Johnson / Derrell Zarguski
Nov. 16, 2018
FREMONT, Neb. – Redshirt freshman Michael Stann capped an impressive team rally with a dual-clinching pin in the heavyweight clash in a Thursday night (Nov. 15) battle between rivals. Having trailed 17-3 after six matches, the Concordia University wrestling squad stormed back, won the final four matches and emerged from Fremont with a 21-17 victory over 13th-ranked Midland, the defending GPAC tournament champions.
This is the most significant moment of Levi Calhoun’s young head coaching career to date. In Thursday’s dual, he went up against former Bulldog head coach Dana Vote, now the leader of the Midland program. Concordia improved to 2-0 in GPAC duals.
“You just think match to match,” Calhoun said of facing the 17-3 disadvantage. “You don’t really dwell on if this guy does this, this and this what will happen. I knew we were strong in the upper weights. We have some experience up there, especially with Josh Nelsen coming up with that big pin. That was huge. You get down like that and it’s tough but I think our guys showed grit and determination. They came back and it was a great win.”
Both sides understood that the Bulldogs would have more favorable matchups in the back half of the dual, but it wasn’t exactly ideal for Concordia to drop five bouts in a row. Midland surprised everyone by throwing All-American David Berg into the lineup at 157 (up two weights from his standard 141). Ranked second nationally at 125, Julian Gaytan also bumped up two weights and got the Warriors a win at 141.
Not surprisingly, the Bulldogs began their comeback at 174 with star Deandre Chery. The only disappointment for the defending GPAC champ was that he did not pin his opponent, Stephon Gray. After Chery won by decision, Concordia’s Josh Nelsen wiped out Devin Brown by pin in the first period. Darrin Miller then squeaked out a 4-2 victory over Turah Reed at 197. Suddenly, the Bulldogs were down only 17-15, setting the stage for a possible team triumph – if Stann could come through.
“It happens a lot in high school, especially being a heavyweight (dealing with the pressure in the last match),” Stann said. “You just have to wrestle like every other match and wrestle like you’re going against No. 1 in the nation and take every second as it comes. You don’t think about it.”
A native of Temecula, Calif., Stann has made the heavyweight spot a strength in Calhoun’s lineup. Stann was a tournament finalist at the Dan Harris Open and is out to a 10-2 record after his latest win. Under pressure, Stann came through with a pin in the second period to topple Alton Johnson.
The dual began with Bulldog 125-pounder Maria Ybarra earning a 6-0 decision over Daniel Vargas. Ybarra did not get the anticipated matchup with Julian Gaytan. The Concordia lineup also included Zack Moistner (133), Cam Devers (141), Kyle Carey (149), Issiah Burks (157) and Jason Watkins (165). The night’s first four matches were won by decision before Midland took the next two by major decision.
It’s early, but this win is a sign that the Bulldogs may have a shot to make a push for a GPAC dual title. Concordia won three conference championships in a row prior to placing fifth in the league standings in 2017-18. Vote was the head coach for the first two. There is work to be done, but for now, Calhoun and his guys will soak this one in.
“It means a lot,” Calhoun said, “It’s a confidence builder for our guys just knowing that we’re capable of winning a title and getting back to that point. We obviously still have a lot of work to do. There’s always something to improve on.”
The Bulldogs will take roughly 15 guys to the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open on Saturday. The tournament will get started at 9 a.m. CT.
Nov. 17, 2018
KEARNEY, Neb. – It wasn’t exactly a soft landing that greeted Alberto Garcia in his debut tournament as a member of the Concordia University wrestling program. In a field loaded with NCAA Division I and II competitors, the junior from Escondido, Calif., won the 133-pound title in the elite division of Saturday (Nov. 17)’s University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open. Garcia and 14 Bulldogs combined for 23 victories and three place finishes on the day.
Concordia left Kearney, Neb., feeling like there could have been more wins. First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad had to quickly refocus after earning a 21-17 dual victory over 13th-ranked Midland on Thursday.
“We knew it was going to be a tough tournament and it was,” Calhoun said. “We had some guys get punched in the mouth a little bit. Maybe we were off a little too much of a high from the Midland win. This gave the guys more perspective on how much work we need to do. They came away knowing we need to get better. We had some good individual performances, but I feel like we could have done a better job competing and winning more matches. There are still things to fix.”
Garcia, a transfer from Palomar College, showed why he was ranked 10th nationally in his weight class despite having never wrestled at the NAIA level. After Saturday, Garcia still has yet to go head-to-head with an NAIA opponent. On his way to a title at UNK, Garcia defeated two foes from NCAA Division II programs and two from NCAA Division I institutions. He capped a 4-0 day by taking a 13-7 decision from the University of Nebraska’s Jevon Parrish in the 133-pound championship match.
Calhoun and his staff knew Garcia was capable of putting together this type of tournament. He has the potential to place high on the podium come March.
Said Calhoun, “Alberto is a special one. He’s very, very good. It wasn’t a surprise what he did. We expected him to place in the elite division and he went and won it. We knew how good he is. He’s a kid that could be a national champ if he continues to do the right things.”
Concordia’s other place finishers were junior Deandre Chery (fifth) at 174 and freshman Michael Stann (fourth) at 285. Both individuals have locked up place finishes in each of the first three tournaments of this season. Chery went 4-2 on Saturday with a pin and another win via technical fall. Meanwhile, Stann went 5-1 and advanced to the third-place match of the amateur division. He was unable to wrestle in that match due to the rule that limits competitors to six bouts in one day.
Tyler Jorgensen (184), Darrin Miller (184) and Demetrius Miller (285) each went 2-2. Four Bulldogs claimed exactly one win before being eliminated in their respective brackets.
Concordia will be idle until hosting Benedictine College (Kan.) in a nonconference dual on Dec. 7. The Bulldogs own dual wins over Dakota Wesleyan and Midland.
Nov. 21, 2018
SEWARD, Neb. – A championship run through the University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open earned junior Alberto Garcia his first honor as a member of the Concordia University wrestling program. On Wednesday (Nov. 21), the conference named Garcia the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Wrestler of the Week. This marks the Bulldog wrestling program’s 14th GPAC weekly award since the start of the 2015-16 season.
Garcia had yet to appear in a Concordia singlet until last week. He made quite a splash in his debut, going 4-0 while seizing the 133-pound title of the elite division at the UNK Open. A transfer from Palomar College, Garcia defeated two NCAA Division II and two NCAA Division I opponents during his run in Kearney. One of the wins came over University of Mary’s Tate Barnhardt, ranked ninth at 133 pounds in NCAA D-II. In the championship match, Garcia toppled the University of Nebraska’s Jevon Parish, 13-7.
Although Garcia had yet to wrestle at the NAIA level, he checked in at No. 2 in the GPAC and at No. 10 nationally in the preseason rankings at 133. Garcia and the Bulldogs will not compete again until hosting Benedictine College (Kan.) in a dual on Friday, Dec. 7
Dec. 4, 2018
SEWARD, Neb. – After taking its act on the road for the opening three tournaments and first two duals of the 2018-19 season, the Concordia University wrestling team is preparing for its first opportunity to entertain the home fans. The Bulldogs will host Benedictine College (Kan.), a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference, at 7 p.m. CT on Friday. Head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad will also be at the Doane University Open on Saturday.
Friday’s dual will be streamed live via the Concordia Sports Network. Aaron Sweazy will call the action.
An extended idle stretch in the schedule will finally come to an end for Concordia, which has not competed since the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open on Nov. 17. The Bulldogs enter the week with a 2-0 dual record having recorded wins over Dakota Wesleyan, 58-0, and then 13th-ranked Midland, 21-17. Concordia owns a combined GPAC dual record of 28-3 since the start of the 2014-15 season.
In the most recent outing, Alberto Garcia stole the show by winning the 133-pound title of the elite division at the UNK Open. He was subsequently named the GPAC Wrestler of the Week. Ranked ninth in the NAIA at 133 pounds, Garcia joined teammates in seventh-ranked Deandre Chery (174) and 12th-ranked Josh Nelsen (184) in the national rankings released on Nov. 21. Chery (15-3) and heavyweight Michael Stann (15-3) share the team lead for victories. Both grapplers have a habit of pinning their foes. Stann has notched nine pins while Chery has six.
The Ravens enter Walz Arena having competed in four tournaments and two duals. They earned a 27-18 victory over the University of Saint Mary (Kan.) on Nov. 8 before dropping a 56-0 decision at top-ranked Grand View University (Iowa) on Nov. 30. Benedictine’s lone nationally-ranked individual, No. 16 Keenan Graef (149), is not listed in the team’s probable lineup for Friday. Head coach Marcus Cobbs’ program placed 25th at the 2018 NAIA National Championships behind All-American Austin Roper. At 141, Alex Gomez is a returning national qualifier.
Coming up on the horizon are the GPAC/Cascade Collegiate Conference Duals in Chandler, Ariz., on Sunday, Dec. 16. The complete dual schedule for that date has not yet been announced.
125 – Mario Ybarra (11-2)
133 – No. 9 Alberto Garcia (4-0) / Zack Moistner (4-5)
141 – No. 9 Alberto Garcia (4-0) / Zack Moistner (4-5)
149 – Cameron Devers (5-5)
157 – Jason Watkins (4-7)
165 – Chucky Hedrick (0-0)
174 – No. 7 Deandre Chery (15-3)
184 – Darrin Miller (8-6)
197 – Tyler Jorgensen (5-6)
285 – Michael Stann (15-3)
125 – Open
133 – Tyler Westervelt
141 – Alex Gomez
149 – Blake Pursel
157 – Michael Lucas
165 – Jensen McDermott
174 – Franco Camarca
184 – Tyson Albright
197 – James Schafer
285 – Ron Broyles
Dec. 7, 2018
SEWARD, Neb. – The first home appearance of the 2018-19 Concordia University wrestling season lasted exactly 24 minutes. A dual that featured six forfeits and three pins culminated with the Bulldogs taking a 51-6 victory over visiting Benedictine College (Kan.) on Friday (Dec. 7). Concordia won three of the four contested bouts.
First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad has moved to 3-0 in dual action. Friday marked the team’s first outing since appearing at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open on Nov. 17.
“Our guys who wrestled came out and competed. That’s all we ask for,” Calhoun said. “Obviously the one we lost didn’t go the way we wanted. (Alberto Garcia) bumped up a weight class. He has some things to fix. He’s a talented wrestler. I’m happy with the other guys who went out and competed hard and got the wins.”
At 165 pounds, senior Chucky Hedrick made a successful return to the lineup after offseason surgery kept him out until Friday. He caught his opponent Jensen McDermott in a cradle and wiped him out after 4:05 had elapsed in the match. The native of Winston-Salem, N.C., had led 4-1 at the time of the pin.
“I just wanted to put out for the crowd and my friends,” Hedrick said. “I’ve worked hard. My family couldn’t be here tonight, but I wanted to work hard and show them that I love them by always competing hard. I try to always wrestle to my strengths and show the coaches that I trust the training.”
The quickest of the contested matches came at 197 where sophomore Tyler Jorgensen nailed James Schafer to the mat in just 51 seconds. Jorgensen gave his foe no room to breathe. He took him down and recorded two near fall points before closing the deal. The other Bulldog win was delivered by Darrin Miller in sudden victory, 8-6, at 184. In the only real drama of the night, Miller let a third-period lead slip away before ending the match with a takedown.
The night did not turn out the way Garcia would have scripted it in his first match since winning the 133-pound title of the elite division at the UNK Open. Garcia was upset by the Ravens’ Alex Gomez, who stunned the Walz Arena crowd with a pin that came just before the first period buzzer.
Forfeit victories were claimed by Bulldogs Dakota Brace (125), Mario Ybarra (133), Cameron Devers (149), Jason Watkins (157), Deandre Chery (174) and Michael Stann (285). Chery and Stann top Concordia this season with 16 wins apiece.
Select members of the program will be in action Saturday at the Doane University Open. Action from Crete is set to get underway at 9 a.m. CT. Concordia will then conclude its pre-Christmas schedule by traveling to the GPAC/Cascade Duals in Chandler, Ariz., on Dec. 16.
“Tomorrow is going to be a tough tournament,” Calhoun said. “The top-ranked team in the country is going to be there and a lot of top JUCOs. We’ll be able to measure where we’re at. We will expect relentless effort and for guys to compete all seven minutes.”
Dec. 8, 2018
CRETE, Neb. – Fresh off Friday’s 51-6 thumping of Benedictine College (Kan.) in dual action, the Concordia University wrestling team entered 14 competitors into Saturday (Dec. 8)’s Doane Open in Crete. One of four Bulldogs to reach at least the quarterfinals of their respective brackets, junior Deandre Chery claimed second place at 174 pounds.
First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad combined for 23 victories on the day. The Doane Open marked the team’s fourth tournament of the season.
“This tournament was significantly tougher than in years past,” Calhoun said. “There were a lot more teams coming in with something like 350 wrestlers. Deandre dominated his way to the finals and then got thrown in a head lock and was pinned, but he had a really good day. I think he was disappointed he didn’t get to wrestle last night.
“Then Michael Stann had a great day. He wrestled really tough. Walker (Fisher) had a pretty good day. He looked really solid. This was his first full tournament of the year because he’s been battling injury.”
Chery rampaged his way to the title bout with pins in the second, quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. He may have gotten one in the first round, but his opponent was forced to end the match early due to injury. Ranked seventh in the NAIA at 174, Chery turned in a win over Nickolas Madsen of Morningside. His bid for a second tournament title this season was thwarted by Grand View University (Iowa)’s Gabriel Rangel in the final.
Stann went 4-2 in the heavyweight bracket with his lone losses coming against foes from the University of Nebraska. Stann recorded pins over both Andrew Poumele (unattached) and Ronald Broyles (Benedictine) during his run to the quarterfinals.
Fisher had wrestled just one match prior to Saturday. His season ramped up with a pin and a victory by major decision in the first two rounds. He then fell victim to Rangel in the quarterfinals before rebounding with a 9-2 decision over Chris Guest of Grand View. Fisher was 3-2 at the Doane Open.
Meanwhile, Kyle Carey (141) won three matches and two victories apiece were earned by Chris James (285), Josh Nelsen (184) and Mario Ybarra (125). Nelsen also reached the quarterfinals via decisions by scores of 7-2 and 7-3, respectively, over the first two rounds.
“Overall we wrestled tough and got some good wins,” Calhoun said. “There is a lot to improve on. We got exposed in some areas but we’re excited to keep moving forward.”
The Bulldogs will be off from competition during the upcoming finals week. They will return to action a week from Sunday (Dec. 16) for the GPAC/Cascade Duals in Chandler, Ariz. The schedule for that date has not been announced.
Dec. 12, 2018
SEWARD, Neb. – A successful 5-1 week has led to conference honors for junior Deandre Chery. The runner up of the 174-pound bracket at the Doane Open has been named the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Wrestler of the Week, as announced on Wednesday (Dec. 12). The Concordia wrestling program has earned two of the first four GPAC weekly awards so far this season and has collected 15 GPAC Wrestler of the Week awards since the start of the 2015-16 season.
Chery has been a consistent performer ever since the season began with the Dan Harris Open on Nov. 4. The native of Miami Gardens, Fla., blazed to the finals at the Doane Open with three pins, including two in the first period. The only downer of last week was a defeat in the 174-pound title bout at Doane. The reigning GPAC champion at 174 pounds, Chery now sports a record of 20-4 overall with nine pins. In four tournaments this season, Chery has placed first, third, fifth and second, respectively. He is currently ranked first in the GPAC and seventh in the NAIA at 174.
Chery and company will return to action on Sunday for four duals in Chandler, Ariz., as part of the GPAC/Cascade Collegiate Conference Duals. The opponents will be CCC foes Eastern Oregon University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.), Life Pacific College and University of Providence.
Dec. 13, 2018
SEWARD, Neb. – Members of the Concordia University wrestling team departed Thursday morning, bound for Chandler, Ariz., site of Sunday’s GPAC/Cascade Collegiate Conference Duals. The event will include a total of 16 duals with conference rivals Hastings, Midland and Morningside also slated to appear in Arizona. Head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad will take on four opponents from the CCC as part of a busy Sunday in the desert.
Each of the duals will take place at Chandler High School Gymnasium, 350 N Arizona Ave, Chandler, AZ, 85225. Results for the event can be followed live via TrackWrestling.com.
Sunday, Dec. 16
vs. No. 20 Eastern Oregon University, 12 p.m. MST / 1 p.m. CST
vs. No. 8 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.), 1:30 p.m. MST / 2:30 p.m. CST
vs. Life Pacific College (Calif.), 3 p.m. MST / 4 p.m. CST
vs. No. 5 University of Providence (Mont.), 4:30 p.m. MST / 5:30 p.m. CST
The Bulldogs enter the weekend with a 3-0 dual mark that includes conference victories over Dakota Wesleyan, 58-0, and then 13th-ranked Midland, 21-17, and a nonconference win over Benedictine College (Kan.), 51-6. Over the season’s first three duals, Concordia has outscored its opponents by a combined total of 130-23 and has won 24 of the 30 individual matches. The hope is for the program to return to the type of dominance it displayed from the 2014-15 through 2016-17 seasons when it went 21-0 in conference duals.
In NAIA national rankings released on Wednesday, four Bulldogs appeared in the top 20 in their respective weights: Alberto Garcia (No. 10 at 133), Deandre Chery (No. 4 at 174), Josh Nelsen (No. 18 at 184) and Michael Stann (No. 19 at 285). The 174-pound 2018 GPAC champion, Chery is off to an impressive start in his junior season. He was named the GPAC Wrestler of the Week on Wednesday after placing as a runner up at the Doane. He is 20-4 with nine pins.
Chery and Stann (20-5) share the team lead for victories. A redshirt freshman from Temecula, Calif., Stann has solidified the heavyweight spot in the lineup. He has already racked up a team best 11 pins. Two other Bulldogs have reached double figures in wins: 125-pounder Mario Ybarra (14-4) and Nelsen (10-8).
Concordia will be tested significantly in Arizona on Sunday. The slate features three teams ranked in the top 20 of the NAIA coaches’ poll and another listed as receiving votes. Fifth-ranked Providence finished ninth at the 2018 NAIA national championships and boasts five wrestlers with top-five individual national rankings. Other 2018 national championships for this weekend’s opponents were 19th by Eastern Oregon and 26th by Embry-Riddle.
During their stay in the Phoenix area, the Bulldogs plan to visit Echo Canyon Recreation Area and go bowling at Brunswick Zone Mesa Lanes, among other activities.
Following the GPAC/CCC Duals, the next event on the Concordia wrestling schedule is the Midland University Open on Saturday, Dec. 29.
133 – No. 10 Alberto Garcia
174 – No. 4 Deandre Chery
184 – No. 18 Josh Nelsen
285 – No. 19 Michael Stann
Eastern Oregon (6-4)
125 – No. 4 Mhar Caballa
133 – No. 8 Blake McNall
165 – No. 4 Drake Randall
125 – No. 18 Joshua Nira
149 – No. 10 David Salazar
157 – No. 3 James Williams
165 – No. 14 Taylor Owens
174 – No. 6 Daniel Butler
174 – No. 10 Kody Davis
197 – No. 7 Elias Mason
Life Pacific (0-4)
133 – No. 20 Anthony Vargas
141 – No. 19 Elijah Palacio
285 – No. 17 Brandon Sotomayor
149 – No. 5 Shonn Roberts
157 – No. 5 Casey Dobson
165 – No. 2 Adrian Lyons-Lopez
197 – No. 5 John Hensley
285 – No. 4 Mathew Hopkins
Dec. 17, 2018
CHANDLER, Ariz. – A trip to the Phoenix area provided the opportunity for some fun in the sun and a chance to go up against top notch NAIA competition. As one of eight teams to take part in the GPAC/Cascade Collegiate Conference Duals on Sunday (Dec. 16), the Concordia University wrestling team went 1-3 with the victory coming over Life Pacific College (Calif.). The Bulldogs challenged three teams ranked in the top 20 of the NAIA poll.
December 16 results
No. 20 Eastern Oregon University 24, CUNE 12
No. 8 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.) 35, CUNE 12
CUNE 49, Life Pacific College -1
No. 5 University of Providence (Mont.) 26, CUNE 15
First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad is now 4-3 overall in duals. Concordia had been coming off a 51-6 win over Benedictine College (Kan.) in its most recent dual action.
“We came out of the gate our first dual a little down against Eastern Oregon. We didn’t wrestle our best,” Calhoun said. “I was happier with our effort moving forward in the last three duals. We got after our guys a little after that first dual. I wasn’t expecting to win every match, but we needed to have more pride in the way that we competed. Our effort got much better toward the latter end of the day.”
For the day, the Bulldogs won 19 of the 40 individual matches while seeing a total of 14 nationally-ranked wrestlers. Highlight victories for Concordia came from junior Alberto Garcia (7-5 decision over Eastern Oregon’s eighth-ranked Blake McNall at 133), freshman Mario Ybarra (5-0 decision over Embry-Riddle’s 18th-ranked Joshua Nira at 125) and freshman Michael Stann (4-2 decision over Life Pacific’s 17th-ranked Brandon Sotomayor at 285).
Stann continues to roll at the heavyweight position. He recorded his 12th and 13th pins of the season in addition to notching a victory over a foe ranked two spots above him nationally. As part of his 3-1 day, Stann suffered his only loss in a 12-5 decision to Providence’s fourth-ranked Mathew Hopkins. Stann is now 23-6 overall this season.
“It’s nice to have that heavyweight closer back,” Calhoun said. “He’s that guy we’re going to be able to depend on at the end of duals. He beat a kid ranked ahead of him and then battled really well with the kid ranked fourth in the country. I always have to remember that he’s just a freshman. He has big upside and I expect big things out of him.”
Ybarra has not yet cracked the national rankings, but he has shown an ability to compete with some of the NAIA’s best. He went 3-1 on Sunday with the defeat being a 10-5 decision while up against Eastern Oregon’s Mhar Caballa, ranked fourth at 125. Deandre Chery, Concordia’s highest-rated wrestler (No. 4 in the 174-pound weight class), claimed a pin and a victory by decision in a 2-0 performance in Arizona.
The Bulldogs took care of business against Life Pacific, a first year wrestling program. In the blowout, Concordia triumphed in all seven contested matches – two by pin and another two by technical fall. One of the victories by technical fall was supplied by Zack Moistner, who won both of his Arizona bouts at 133. Moistner and Garcia alternated at the 133 and 141 spots.
The Bulldogs arrived in Arizona on Thursday, which allowed time for team bonding activities prior to Sunday’s action at Chandler High School.
“We went on a hike the first day we got here on Camelback Mountain,” Calhoun said. “It was pretty intense. I was the last one up. It’s like a mile-and-a-half hike. The guys loved it. It was awesome to get on top of that mountain and see the views from up there. Then we went bowling. It was fun to get away and spend some time together.
“We actually had a lot of fans out here. One of the big reasons for us to come out here was so our California families could see their kids wrestle. We’ll definitely try to do it again in the future.”
Next on the docket is the Midland Open coming up on Saturday, Dec. 29. The remaining dual schedule includes conference opponents only. Six GPAC duals are yet to come.
Dec. 19, 2018
SEWARD, Neb. – Three of the five GPAC weekly awards this season have now gone to members of the Concordia University wrestling program. On Wednesday (Dec. 19), redshirt freshman Michael Stann was named the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Wrestler of the Week. He joins teammates Alberto Garcia (Nov. 21) and Deandre Chery (Dec. 12) as award winners in 2018-19.
The team leader in pins, Stann went 3-1 at Sunday’s GPAC/Cascade Collegiate Conference Duals held at Chandler High School in Chandler, Ariz. Stann’s day in the desert included a pair of pins and a 4-2 victory over 17th-ranked Brandon Sotomayor of Life Pacific College (Calif.). The only loss suffered by Stann at the event was a 12-5 decision at the hands of Providence (Mont.)’s Mathew Hopkins.
Last week Stann cracked the NAIA national rankings for the first time in his career. The heavyweight from Temecula, Calif., checked in at No. 19. In his first season competing collegiately on the mat, Stann is 23-6 overall with 13 pins.
Stann and the Bulldogs will be idle until taking part in the Midland Open on Saturday, Dec. 29.
2018-19 GPAC Wrestlers of the Week
Dec. 19 – Michael Stann
Dec. 12 – Deandre Chery
Nov. 21 – Alberto Garcia
Jan. 5, 2019
HASTINGS, Neb. – The holiday layoff has ended for the Concordia University wrestling program. Eleven Bulldog competitors combined for 19 wins and a pair of fourth-place finishes while taking part in Saturday (Jan. 5)’s Cusatis Open hosted by Hastings. The tournament field featured strong NAIA as well as NCAA Division I grapplers.
The Cusatis Open marked the first action for head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad since it wrestled at the GPAC/Cascade Collegiate Conference duals near Phoenix, Ariz., on Dec. 16. Calhoun walked away from the latest outing knowing there is more work to be done.
“We had a really good week of practice. I was feeling good going into it,” Calhoun said. “There were a lot of D-I and D-II kids there. It was a quality tournament, but I’m still a little disappointed overall in our ability to compete in every match. I didn’t think we did as well as we normally do. The first tournament back from break isn’t usually the best, but we expect more out of our guys. There are some adjustments that need to be made.”
At 133 pounds, junior Zack Moistner of Fallbrook, Calif., turned in his first place finish of the season. He took fourth in the bracket while going 3-2 on the day, which included a 5-2 decision over an opponent from the University of Nebraska. Moistner also chalked up a victory by major decision to vault himself into the third-place bout, which resulted in an 8-4 defeat at the hands of Colin Poynter of the Air Force Academy.
“Zack was our biggest highlight,” Calhoun said. “The two he lost were close ones. That’s the best I’ve seen him wrestle all year. I was very happy with every minute of his matches in terms of his effort. Even in the ones he lost he continued to fight. It was a good way to start the semester for him.”
Junior Deandre Chery, ranked fourth nationally at 174, has set the standard all season for Concordia wrestlers. Chery rattled off three more pins at the Cusatis Open on his way to a fourth-place finish. In the third-place tussle, Chery got upset by No. 8 Chase Vincent of Oklahoma City University. Chery is now 25-6 overall this season.
Calhoun also made mention of junior Cam Devers, who entered into a tournament at 141 pounds for the first time this season. Devers equaled Chery and Moistner with three victories. Of Devers’ two losses, one came against an NCAA Division I foe and another came versus an NCAA Division II opponent. Said Calhoun, “He looked more like the Cam Devers that we know and really like to watch wrestle.”
At 184, senior Josh Nelsen also posted three wins, including one by pin. His day ended with a loss by sudden victory. A trio of Bulldogs picked up exactly two wins on the day: Walker Fisher (174), Tyler Jorgensen (197) and Michael Stann (285). Darrin Miller (184) recorded one victory.
The Bulldogs will have this coming week off from competition before heading to the Missouri Valley College Invite in Marshall, Mo., Jan. 18-19. The event has become known as one of the top in-season NAIA tournaments.
Jan. 19, 2019
MARSHALL, Mo. – In a preview of what could transpire later this season at the NAIA National championships, 41 NAIA wrestling programs descended upon the Burns Athletic Complex in Marshall, Mo., both Friday and Saturday (Jan. 18-19) for the Missouri Valley Invite. The Concordia University wrestling team racked up 39 team points and placed 18th at the event. Individually, Michael Stann took sixth place in the heavyweight bracket.
First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad placed third amongst the seven GPAC teams to make the trip. The invite featured 12 nationally-ranked NAIA teams and nearly 400 total wrestlers.
“It was a tough tournament like we expected,” Calhoun said. “I thought we got exposed in some areas. It’s bad at the time, but good in that we know what we need to work on and what we need to improve on. Our guys got a good taste of national competition and realized we have to continue to work hard and get better. Our expectations are always high. Overall I’m satisfied with our effort.”
Ten Bulldogs combined for 19 victories over the two days of scrapping at Missouri Valley. Stann led the way with his four victories. The redshirt freshman from Temecula, Calif., showed he could compete with anyone in the nation. Each of Stann’s three losses came by decision against opponents with heavyweight national rankings of 1, 3 and 5, respectively. Stann guaranteed himself of at least a spot in the fifth-place bout with his major decision (14-0) over No. 20 Brix Brickey of Bethany College (Kan.). Stann’s day ended with a 7-1 loss to fifth-ranked Cooper Thomas of Grand View University (Iowa).
While Stann paced Concordia with 16 team points, freshman Mario Ybarra (125) emerged from the tournament with 5.5 points thanks to a pair of pins on his day. Next in line in terms of team scoring were Deandre Chery (4.0) at 174, Josh Nelsen (4.0) at 184 and Kyle Carey (3.5) at 141. Tyler Jorgensen’s (197) three wins ranked second best on the team. Exactly five Bulldogs collected two wins apiece at the Missouri Valley Invite.
Concordia was missing a couple of key pieces on Saturday with the absences of Alberto Garcia (133) and Walker Fisher (174). With them out of action, Stann again gets the headline. He moved his season counts to 27 wins and 15 pins. His pin total is the highest for the program in a season since Austin Fehlhafer struck for 20 during the 2013-14 campaign.
“He competed well in all of those matches,” Calhoun said of Stann. “We just have to figure out how to take the next step to win those matches. As a redshirt freshman, he’s competing with the best kids in the country and giving himself an opportunity to win. He continues to make improvements.”
A select few Bulldogs will compete on Sunday at the Roger Denker Open hosted by the University of Central Missouri. For most of the team, the focus now shifts to next week’s GPAC Duals. Concordia will host Hastings, Jamestown, Doane and Briar Cliff inside Walz Arena on Jan. 26. The first duals will get started at 9 a.m. CST on that date.
Jan. 23, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – One of two hosts for a pivotal Saturday within the conference, the Concordia University wrestling program is readying to welcome four league opponents to Walz Arena for the GPAC Duals. Saturday’s action will get started at 9 a.m. CST. Walz will house five teams and a total of 10 duals. The Bulldogs will be joined in Seward by Briar Cliff, Doane, Hastings and Jamestown.
The Concordia Sports Network will provide live coverage throughout the day with the main focus centering on the four Bulldog duals. Aaron Sweazy will serve as the play-by-play voice for CSN. Live results can be found via TrackWrestling.com.
GPAC Duals – Saturday, Jan. 26
9 a.m. – Concordia vs. Hastings (Mat 1)
9 a.m. – Briar Cliff vs. Jamestown (Mat 2)
10:30 a.m. – Concordia vs. Jamestown (Mat 1)
10:30 a.m. – Briar Cliff vs. Doane (Mat 2)
12 p.m. – Briar Cliff vs. Hastings (Mat 1)
12 p.m. – Doane vs. Jamestown (Mat 2)
1:30 p.m. – Concordia vs. Doane (Mat 1)
1:30 p.m. – Hastings vs. Jamestown (Mat 2)
3 p.m. – Concordia vs. Briar Cliff (Mat 1)
3 p.m. – Doane vs. Hastings (Mat 2)
In the other pod of the GPAC Duals, Morningside will host Dakota Wesleyan, Midland and Northwestern. Saturday will go a long ways towards deciding who wins the GPAC dual title. As it stands entering the weekend, Morningside (3-0 GPAC), Northwestern (3-0 GPAC) and Concordia (2-0 GPAC) are the only three teams that have yet to drop a GPAC dual. The Bulldogs own conference wins over Dakota Wesleyan, 58-0, and Midland, 21-17. Prior to Briar Cliff taking the crown last season, Concordia had won GPAC dual titles three seasons in a row.
Since the beginning of the 2014-15 season, the Bulldogs own a GPAC dual record of 28-3. During that stretch, Concordia put together a string of 22 conference dual wins in a row. The current team has not had a dual of any kind since the GPAC/Cascade Duals took place in Chandler, Ariz., on Dec. 16. While in Arizona, the Bulldogs went 1-3 with a victory over Life Pacific College (Calif.).
In the new conference ratings released on Tuesday, Concordia moved up to No. 1 with 159 points, ahead of Morningside (156) and Midland (131). Those rankings are based upon the individual ratings. Deandre Chery (174) and Michael Stann (285) both garnered No. 1 GPAC rankings within their respective weight classes. Alberto Garcia is No. 2 at 133. Eleven Bulldogs appear within the top six of the conference of their weight classes. New national ratings are set to come out today (Jan. 23). Twenty-four GPAC wrestlers were nationally ranked when the most recent ratings were announced on Dec. 28.
Following Saturday’s action, just two GPAC duals will remain on the schedule. Concordia also has the Sioux City Open coming up Feb. 2 and the GPAC championships on Feb. 16.
Jan. 26, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University wrestling program moved a step closer to regaining its perch atop the GPAC standings with a Saturday (Jan. 26) that went about as well as anyone could have scripted. The Bulldogs blew away their first three opponents and then knocked off defending GPAC dual champion Briar Cliff as part of a 4-0 day at the GPAC Duals that took place inside Walz Arena.
First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad is now a perfect 6-0 in conference dual action this season. While hosting four other teams in Seward, Concordia defeated Hastings, 42-6, Jamestown, 40-0, Doane, 44-9, and Briar Cliff, 25-14. A total of 10 conference duals took place at Walz. The first action got started at 9 a.m. CST.
“I thought the effort was incredible across the board,” Calhoun said. “Even the matches we lost the guys were fighting. I’m really happy with the way they came out and performed. To come out undefeated on the day is a really good feeling, especially with taking down the defending GPAC champs in the final dual of the day. It was pretty exciting.”
This brought back memories of the recent past when All-Americans Ken Burkhardt Jr. and Ceron Francisco were wreaking havoc upon the GPAC. In Saturday’s action, the Bulldogs won 33 of 40 individual matches. By the time Concordia had polished off its first three victories of the day, it had dropped just four matches. Hastings was little match for the Bulldogs, who racked up six pins of the Broncos.
Junior Deandre Chery appears to be on a mission to win another GPAC title and reach the national stage again. The 174-pounder notched two more pins as part of a 3-0 day. Freshmen Michael Stann (285) and Mario Ybarra (125) both went a perfect 4-0. Stann has gone 6-0 in conference duals while running roughshod through league opponents.
At the end of the day, Calhoun had a tough time singling out just one standout performer. Fourteen Bulldogs registered at least one win. Kyle Carey (141) and Alberto Garcia (133) also added three victories apiece.
“It felt good,” Calhoun said. “I feel like we’re slowly getting back to that GPAC dominance we had in years past. It kind of felt like that today with being able to go in and impose our will on opposing teams. It’s a nice feeling, but we have a lot of work to do. We have two tough duals left in our conference schedule with Northwestern and Morningside. We’re going to continue to work and prepare for those.”
Exactly two wins each were recorded by Blake Castillo, Cameron Devers, Walker Fisher, Chucky Hedrick, Tyler Jorgensen, Darrin Miller and Jason Watkins. Blake Crawford and Josh Nelsen turned in one win apiece.
When the dust settled on Saturday, Concordia stood alone at the top of the GPAC standings. Situated next in line behind the Bulldogs are Morningside (5-1), Midland (4-1) and Northwestern (4-2). Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Concordia owns a combined GPAC dual record of 32-3.
Up next on the slate is Thursday’s dual at Northwestern. The action is slated to get started at 6 p.m. CST from Orange City, Iowa. In last season’s meeting in Seward, Concordia clipped the Red Raiders, 21-16.
Jan. 31, 2019
ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University wrestling team has operated like a machine during the course of GPAC dual action. Fresh off a dominant 4-0 day last week at the GPAC duals, the Bulldogs returned to action on Thursday night (Jan. 31) with an opportunity to clinch at least a share of the conference dual championship. The Bulldogs rose to the occasion, won seven matches and toppled host Northwestern, 28-10.
It’s been quite a run in Levi Calhoun’s debut season as a collegiate head coach. Concordia fought back for a 21-17 win at Midland on Nov. 15 but other than that, it’s been smooth sailing within the conference. The Bulldogs are now 7-0 in GPAC action with one dual remaining on the slate.
The program can now claim its fourth conference dual title in five seasons with the others coming in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17. Calhoun was an assistant for the latter two championship seasons. He is now the third coach in program history to preside over a conference title campaign.
“After the dual I told them we clinched (a share), but that doesn’t really mean a whole lot,” Calhoun said. “That’s not the goal. The goal is to win it outright. Nothing has been accomplished yet. We’ve got a big one next week and that’s what we’re going to be preparing for.”
Of the seven Concordia victories on the night, four came with bonus points. That included an 18-0 win by technical fall delivered by junior Zack Moistner at 133 pounds. Moistner racked up 16 points on near falls while starting a wave of triumphs for the visitors. Moistner lifted the Bulldog spirits back up after Mario Ybarra dropped a 5-1 decision in a battle between two of the conference’s top 125-pounders.
At 141, junior Alberto Garcia piggybacked off of Moistner with a pin of Cole Mills that came in the second period with Garcia up 9-0. Then came a key decision in sudden victory that went the way of Cameron Devers at 149. Devers defeated Dante Preciado, a 2017 All-American. One match later, Chucky Hedrick put together a major decision after nearly earning a pin of his Red Raider foe at 157. It was suddenly an 18-3 Concordia advantage at the intermission.
The Bulldogs eventually clinched the team victory at 184 where junior Darrin Miller (ranked sixth in the GPAC) pulled off a minor upset of the conference’s fifth-ranked 184-pounder in Bennett Sikkink, 3-2. That made the team scoring 25-7 with just two matches remaining.
Of course this season’s two most reliable standouts – junior Deandre Chery at 174 and redshirt freshman Michael Stann at 285 – also came through. Perhaps the only disappointment for both top-rated GPAC wrestlers was that they were unable to add to their lofty season pin totals. Chery (31-8) won by major decision (14-2) over Haggen Meyer and Stann (33-11) took a 4-0 decision over Victor Garcia.
After winning 21 conference duals in a row spanning the 2014-15 through 2016-17 seasons, Concordia slipped to 5-3 in GPAC duals last season. It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to climb back towards the top. In its seven conference duals this winter, Concordia has won 55 of 70 individual matches and has outscored its opponents by a combined total of 258-56.
“The guys are in that mindset of wanting to win and compete,” Calhoun said. “They’re buckling down and looking to score points. They’re offensive minded and continuing to grind. They believe they have a chance to win no matter who they step on the mat against. Just having that mindset has been huge.”
The most significant wrestling of the campaign is yet to come. The Bulldogs will be at the Dave Edmonds Sioux City Open on Saturday (9 a.m. start) in their final regular-season tournament of 2018-19. Concordia is set to make its final home appearance next Thursday (Feb. 7) when it welcomes Morningside for a 7 p.m. dual. Morningside (6-1 GPAC) and Midland (6-1 GPAC) remain in the hunt for a share of the conference dual title.
Feb. 2, 2019
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – For some Concordia University wrestlers, the Sioux City Dave Edmonds Open on Saturday (Feb. 2) provided their final opportunity of the 2018-19 season to take the mat. A small group of 10 Bulldogs combined for 14 wins at the event hosted by Morningside. The tournament marked the final one of the regular season for Concordia.
Two days earlier, first-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad clinched at least a share of the GPAC dual title with a win at Northwestern. Now 7-0 this season in conference duals, the Bulldogs made Saturday a day of evaluation.
“This was an opportunity for a bunch of guys to get another tournament under their belt and get some final matches in this season,” Calhoun said. “We’re still trying to figure some of the final roster spots for the national qualifier. We had some guys wrestling so we could do some more evaluation. There were several guys fighting for one of those 12 spots at the conference championships.”
Six Bulldogs notched exactly two wins on Saturday: Blake Castillo (165), Gabe Crawford (165), Walker Fisher (174), Tyler Jorgensen (197), Keanu Tom (157) and Jason Watkins (157). Tom competed in a tournament for the first time this season after coming off of knee surgery. Fisher was 2-0 before pulling out of the open as a precautionary measure. Kyle Carey (141) and Dylan Clarke (197) also recorded one victory apiece.
The Bulldogs will shoot for an outright GPAC title next week when they host Morningside (6-1 GPAC) in a dual inside Walz Arena. The action is set to get started at 7 p.m. CST on Feb. 7. Concordia has already earned at least a share of the conference dual championship, a feat the program also achieved in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The Bulldogs will also use the evening to honor their senior class.
Many of the Concordia starters will have had a week off between competitions by the time next Thursday rolls around. Standouts such as nationally-ranked grapplers Deandre Chery (174), Alberto Garcia (133) and Michael Stann (285) were held out of Saturday’s open.
Feb. 5, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – The win last week at Northwestern clinched at least a share of the GPAC dual championship. Now the Concordia University wrestling team aspires to lock up the outright title, an achievement that will be on the line on Thursday when Morningside visits Walz Arena for a 7 p.m. CST start. It will be the home finale and senior night for the Bulldogs.
The dual will be streamed live via the Concordia Sports Network with Aaron Sweazy calling the play-by-play. Live results can be viewed via TrackWrestling.com.
At 7-0 in conference duals, first-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad is a victory away from running the table in the GPAC just as the program did each season from 2014-15 through 2016-17. Since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, Concordia is a combined 33-3 in GPAC duals. After falling back to fifth place in the conference last season, the Bulldogs have returned to their formerly dominant ways. In its seven GPAC duals, Concordia has won 55 of 70 matches and has outscored its opponents by a combined total of 258-56.
The Bulldogs are also ranked No. 1 in the official GPAC ratings that were last released by the NAIA on Jan. 21. Eleven Concordia wrestlers are ranked within the top six of the conference in their respective weight classes. The headliners all season have been junior Deandre Chery (31-8; 15 pins) at 174 and redshirt freshman Michael Stann (34-11; 16 pins) at 285. Both Chery (6-0) and Stann (7-0) are undefeated in conference duals and are ranked No. 1 in the GPAC. Others rated in the top three on the conference level include Mario Ybarra (125), Alberto Garcia (133) and Walker Fisher (174).
Fisher is one of six seniors who will be recognized prior to the dual on Thursday. The other seniors are Kyle Carey, Chucky Hedrick, Chris James, Josh Nelsen and Keanu Tom. The fourth-year seniors were part of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 GPAC championship teams.
Morningside will present a significant challenge. Not only are the Mustangs 6-1 in conference duals, they are also ranked second in the official GPAC ratings, only three points behind the Bulldogs. Morningside put together an impressive run of conference championships of its own having won dual titles in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14. Head coach Jake Stevenson’s staff includes former Concordia graduate assistant Tyler Kacmarynski. The Mustangs boast five wrestlers who rank in the top two of the GPAC within their weight classes. Five Morningside grapplers are ranked nationally: No. 6 Keegan Hessler (125), No. 20 Dakota Drenth (149), No. 17 Kyle Fowler (157), No. 19 Jacob Wiley (184) and No. 18 Phil Rasmussen (285).
In last season’s meeting in Sioux City, Iowa, Morningside defeated Concordia, 22-11. In that dual, Jerry Stepps III completed an 8-0 GPAC dual mark with a win by decision at 125 pounds. Other Bulldog victories were delivered by Cam Devers (141) and Darrin Miller (184). Prior to last season’s loss, Concordia had defeated the Mustangs three seasons in a row: 29-12 in 2014-15, 32-7 in 2015-16 and 30-9 in 2016-17.
Once Thursday’s action has wrapped up, only the GPAC Championships (Feb. 16) and the NAIA National Championships (March 1-2) will remain on the 2018-19 schedule. Each team is allowed to enter 12 competitors into the conference championships, which serve as a national qualifier.
Feb. 6, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – One of four Bulldogs to earn the award in 2018-19, junior Cameron Devers has been named the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Wrestler of the Week, as announced by the conference on Wednesday (Feb. 6). GPAC weekly honors this season have also been captured by teammates Alberto Garcia (Nov. 21), Deandre Chery (Dec. 12) and Michael Stann (Dec. 19). Devers has earned the award for the first time in his career.
Devers’ came through with the headlining victory in last week’s 28-10 team dual win at Northwestern. While bumping up a weight to 149 pounds, the native of Holly Springs, N.C., topped the NAIA’s 19th-ranked 149-pounder Dante Preciado, 4-3, in sudden victory. Preciado earned All-America honors at the 2017 national championships. Devers has now moved to 13-12 overall (6-6 duals). Devers is ranked fifth in the GPAC at 141 pounds.
Head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad will be back in action on Thursday to host Morningside (6-1 GPAC) in a dual set for 7 p.m. CST inside Walz Arena. At 7-0 in GPAC duals, Concordia can claim the outright conference dual title with a victory.
2018-19 GPAC Wrestlers of the Week
Feb. 6 – Cameron Devers
Dec. 19 – Michael Stann
Dec. 12 – Deandre Chery
Nov. 21 – Alberto Garcia
Feb. 7, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – The bid for a perfect run through the GPAC dual schedule ended inside Walz Arena on Thursday night (Feb. 7) for the Concordia University wrestling program. The Bulldogs ran into a brick wall in the form of visiting Morningside, which spoiled the Bulldogs’ chances of winning an outright conference title. The Mustangs won on Concordia’s senior night, 27-12.
The result means that first-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad shares the GPAC dual title with Morningside. Both teams finished 7-1 in conference duals. Calhoun had hoped to treat the season’s largest home crowd to a victory.
“They showed up to wrestle. Hats off to Morningside,” Calhoun said. “They showed up to wrestle and they beat us, plain and simple. We have to come out with a lot more fire. We have to stay off our back. I give credit to them. They won it. We didn’t lose it. We have to correct some things to get ready for this next weekend.”
Morningside stunned the Walz crowd when Dakota Drenth and Kyle Fowler produced back-to-back pins at 149 and 157, respectively. With three matches remaining on the evening, the Mustangs (7-1 GPAC) had sucked all of the drama out of the dual. Morningside had mounted an insurmountable team lead of 24-3. The Mustangs provided the first fireworks after the first five bouts had been decided by decision.
Morningside jumped out to a 9-0 lead in a dual that got started at 197 pounds. The Bulldogs finally got on the board when NAIA eighth-ranked Alberto Garcia emerged with an 8-1 win over Devin Phaly at 133. The only disappointment was that Garcia failed to earn bonus points in a match he dominated. Unfortunately, Garcia’s victory did not ignite the wave of wins Concordia needed.
With everything considered, it’s hard for Calhoun to be disappointed in the run his guys have put together after placing fifth in the GPAC last season. The Bulldogs entered the night having won 55 of 70 individual matches within the conference.
“It’s awesome. Obviously we’re proud of them,” Calhoun said. “I’m proud of them, regardless of the outcome today. I don’t think anyone expected for this to be where we’re at. Co-champs of the GPAC is a pretty good feeling. It stings tonight, but when we reflect back I feel like we’ll be pretty happy with the results. We’ll continue to move forward and improve.”
One of six seniors honored in a ceremony prior to the dual, Walker Fisher went out with a 6-5 decision over Nickolas Madsen at 174 pounds. A native of Ashland, Neb., Fisher did not lose a single home match during his collegiate career. Two other seniors in the Concordia lineup suffered defeats – Kyle Carey (141) and Keanu Tom (157).
Just before Fisher took the mat, Blake Castillo brought the first real big roar of the night with a pin of Brandon Crews in the 165-pound tussle. Castillo won three of his four matches this season in conference duals.
Deandre Chery (184) and Michael Stann (285) both saw their unblemished GPAC dual records fall by the wayside. Ranked 10th nationally at the heavyweight position, the pin prone Stann was prevented from going on the offensive in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Phil Rasmussen. That result set the wheels in motion for a Mustang victory. Chery was upended, 6-2, in the final match of the night. He bumped up from his usual 174 weight to wrestle at 184.
Morningside won seven of 10 matches with its wins coming at 125, 141, 149, 157, 184, 197 and 285.
GPAC team and individual championships will be at stake the next time the Bulldogs take the mats. The 2019 GPAC Wrestling Championships will be hosted by Northwestern in Orange City, Iowa, on Saturday, Feb. 16. Concordia is coming off a fourth-place finish at last season’s conference tournament. Giovanni Castillo and Chery claimed individual titles for the Bulldogs.
Feb. 12, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – On the heels of sharing the GPAC dual title, the Concordia University wrestling team now has its sights set on making a run at a conference postseason title. GPAC championships and individual berths to the NAIA National Championships will be at stake on Saturday when the Bulldogs compete at the conference postseason championships hosted in Orange City, Iowa, by Northwestern. The action is set to begin at 10 a.m. CST.
In the latest conference ratings released on Monday (Feb. 11), head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad moved back a spot to No. 2 behind Morningside. Of the 12 Concordia competitors entered into the GPAC Championships (see list below), ten are ranked within the top five of the conference in their respective weight classes. Junior Deandre Chery retained his hold on the No. 1 ranking at 174 pounds. Chery will attempt to defend his 2018 GPAC title at that weight. A 2018 All-American, the departed Giovanni Castillo was also a conference champ last season at 133 pounds.
If the rankings hold up, Chery could find himself going up against teammate Walker Fisher in the title match at 174 pounds. On his way to a championship last season, Chery won by pin and then technical fall before a tightly contested first-place bout that ended in a tiebreaker. Chery (31-9) enters Saturday with the second most victories on the team, behind only redshirt freshman heavyweight Michael Stann (34-12). The two standouts are neck-and-neck for the team lead in pins. Stann has recorded 16 and Chery 15.
Both Chery and Stann will be looking to bounce back from losses in last week’s dual against Morningside. Chery fell while bumping up to 184 pounds. Meanwhile, Stann was upset at 285 by the Mustangs’ Phil Rasmussen. As a result, Rasmussen jumped Stann in the conference ratings. Like Fisher and Stann, senior Alberto Garcia (133) boasts a No. 2 GPAC ranking. Senior Josh Nelsen (184) and Mario Ybarra (125) are both rated third in the GPAC.
Garcia, a transfer from Palomar College, would appear to be another candidate for a GPAC title run. He is 12-2 this season and will enter the GPAC championships on a seven-match win streak. He is 5-0 against conference opponents but has not yet faced the current No. 1 133-pounder in the conference: Midland’s Julian Gaytan.
From a team championship perspective, the Bulldogs have an opportunity to claim their fourth GPAC/NAIA North Qualifier postseason title in the past five seasons. Concordia first began competing in an exclusively GPAC postseason qualifier in 2016. The Bulldogs actually reigned supreme in a 14-team NAIA North Qualifier in 2015.
The final NAIA national rankings will prove critical in regards to determining automatic bids for the national championships. The top finisher in each weight class at each of the conference tournaments receives an automatic berth to the national championships. Additional automatic allocations are determined by using the final regular-season coaches’ poll (Feb. 13). For example, if the GPAC has four individuals ranked at 133 pounds in the final ranking, the conference would be awarded four automatic berths at that weight class. In addition to the automatic qualifiers, each conference is allowed three at-large individuals from any weight class. The remainder of the 240-wrestler field is selected by the national ranking committee.
The 2019 NAIA Wrestling National Championships are set to take place at the Jacobson Exhibition Center in Des Moines, Iowa, March 1-2. For more information on the event, visit the NAIA website HERE.
125 – Mario Ybarra (23-11) | GPAC rank: 3
133 – Alberto Garcia (12-2) | GPAC rank: 2
133 – Zack Moistner (12-13
141 – Cameron Devers (13-13)
157 – Chucky Hedrick (5-3) | GPAC rank: 4
165 – Blake Castillo (12-13) | GPAC rank: 4
174 – Deandre Chery (31-9) | GPAC rank: 1
174 – Walker Fisher (11-6) | GPAC rank: 2
184 – Darrin Miller (14-13) | GPAC rank: 5
184 – Josh Nelsen (17-14) | GPAC rank: 3
197 – Tyler Jorgensen (17-17) | GPAC rank: 5
285 – Michael Stann (34-12) | GPAC rank: 2
Feb. 17, 2019
ORANGE CITY, Iowa – In a tightly bunched group at the top, the Concordia University wrestling team placed fourth at the 2019 GPAC championships in Orange City, Iowa, on Saturday (Feb. 16). A group of 12 Bulldogs combined for 121.5 team points, just a single point out of third and only nine out of second place. For the second year in a row, Deandre Chery took home the conference’s 174-pound title.
Chery emerged as one of five NAIA national qualifiers for first-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad. The Bulldogs again showed they could compete with the league’s top teams after sharing the GPAC dual title.
“We just did not get the bonus points we needed for a higher team finish,” Calhoun said. “Deandre showed up and did what he does and it was awesome to see Walker (Fisher) qualify for nationals. We were expecting a top three finish and we were a point out of third, so there’s a little disappointment. We’re never satisfied. We were a few matches away from having seven or eight national qualifiers.”
Chery and Fisher (both 174-pounders) will be joined at the national championships by Alberto Garcia (133), Zack Moistner (133) and Michael Stann (285). Chery (33-9) recorded his 16th and 17th pins of the season while advancing to the championship match. He defeated both Jacob Williams of Doane and Haggen Meyer of Northwestern. Concordia then elected to have Fisher concede the title match to Chery.
A senior from Ashland, Neb., Fisher will make his first career trip to nationals. He earned his way there by winning by technical fall over Doane’s Scott Teesdale, 15-0, and then by edging Morningside’s Nickolas Madsen, 3-2, in the semifinals.
Like Fisher, Garcia will be headed to the NAIA national stage for the first time. Garcia bounced back from a semifinal loss to D’earion Stokes of Briar Cliff by taking a decision over Moistner prior to a 12-11 squeaker over Briar Cliff’s Isiah Lysius in the third-place tussle.
Moistner may be the team’s biggest surprise entrant into the national field. He earned one of the GPAC’s four allocations at 133 pounds. That was the deepest weight in the conference, in terms of national qualifiers.
Stann just has not quite been able to get over the hump over the last week-and-a-half against Morningside’s Phil Rasmussen. Stann won by major decision and then in sudden victory while making his way to the heavyweight title bout. Rasmussen then dealt Stann a 6-0 defeat.
Eight of the 12 Bulldogs in action in Orange City advanced to the semifinals of their brackets. Five of them suffered defeats in that round – Mario Ybarra (125), Garcia (133), Cameron Devers (141), Chucky Hedrick (157) and Blake Castillo (165). Devers and Hedrick both placed fourth, narrowly missing out on berths to the national championships.
For those who have earned bids, the 2019 NAIA Wrestling National Championships are up next. The national event will take place inside the Jacobson Exhibition Center in Des Moines, Iowa, March 1-2. This will mark the second year in a row that Des Moines has served as the host for the national tournament.
“It’s kind of about what we expected in terms of national qualifiers,” Calhoun said. “I’m excited about who we have going to nationals. I think we have the potential to put multiple guys on the podium. Now it’s time to get back to work.”
Feb. 19, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University wrestling team emerged from last week’s GPAC championships already knowing that a handful of its grapplers would be headed to Des Moines, Iowa, for the 2019 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. On Tuesday (Feb. 19), the NAIA officially announced five Bulldogs as national qualifiers. That total is the second highest among GPAC competitors.
Of Concordia’s five qualifiers, only junior Deandre Chery has prior experience on the NAIA national stage. Senior Alberto Garcia (133), junior Zack Moistner (133), senior Walker Fisher (174) and freshman Michael Stann (285) will each make their first career appearances at the national tournament. All five Bulldogs earned their bids to nationals via automatic qualification. Chery won the 174-pound GPAC title while Fisher and Stann were both runners up. Garcia placed third while Moistner placed fourth.
Automatic berths were determined by using the final regular-season coaches’ poll. The GPAC received 22 automatic bids based on that poll. The conference was also awarded three wild cards and one national at-large. The entire NAIA qualifying field is complete with 240 wrestlers. Preliminary brackets will be announced on Friday by the NAIA.
Head coach Levi Calhoun’s 2018-19 squad placed in a tie for first in the GPAC dual season and then finished fourth at the conference tournament. The five national qualifiers are a bump up from the program’s three at the 2018 national championships. The school record for national qualifiers in a season is 10 (2015 and 2016).
The 62nd annual national championships will be held inside the Jacobson Exhibition Center in Des Moines, March 1-2. For more information on the national event, click HERE.
Concordia 2019 NAIA National Qualifiers
174 – Deandre Chery (34-9)
*174 – Walker Fisher (13-7)
*133 – Alberto Garcia (15-3)
*133 – Zack Moistner (14-15)
*285 – Michael Stann (36-13)
*First time national qualifier
Feb. 21, 2019
Deandre Chery, First Team
Michael Stann, First Team
Walker Fisher, Second Team
Alberto Garcia, Second Team
Mario Ybarra, Honorable Mention
SEWARD, Neb. – Instrumental in the team’s 2018-19 GPAC dual title run, junior Deandre Chery and redshirt freshman Michael Stann have been named first team all-conference selections, as announced by the GPAC on Wednesday (Feb. 20). They were joined with All-GPAC honors by teammates in senior Walker Fisher (second team), junior Alberto Garcia (second team) and freshman Mario Ybarra (honorable mention).
First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s 2018-19 Bulldogs shared the GPAC dual title and then placed fourth at the conference championships on Feb. 16. Concordia qualified five wrestlers for next week’s NAIA national championships.
Chery re-established himself as the conference’s top 174-pound competitor this winter. The native of Miami Gardens, Fla., successfully defended his 2018 GPAC title and fell only once this season against a conference opponent. On the way to qualifying for nationals for the second year in a row, Chery has gone 34-9 overall (9-1 duals) with a team high 17 pins. In the most recent rankings, Chery checked in at No. 10 in the NAIA at 174 pounds. The North Miami High School product moved up to the GPAC’s first team this season after garnering second team honors as a sophomore last season.
Stann put together an impressive first collegiate season on the mat. A native of Temecula, Calif., Stann was the conference’s heavyweight runner up. His 36 wins lead the team while his 16 pins rank second behind only Chery. Throughout the campaign, Stann earned place finishes at five tournaments and emerged with an instrumental pin in a comeback dual win at Midland on Nov. 15. He is currently ranked 10th in the NAIA at 285 and is getting set for his first career appearance at the national tournament.
Fisher has battled through injury this season but rose to the occasion last week at the conference championships. He locked up his first career bid to the national championships by making his way to the 174-pound GPAC title match. Fisher owns a record of 13-7 (four pins), including a 3-0 mark in GPAC duals. The Ashland, Neb., native will enter the national tournament with 54 career wins.
Garcia emerged as an NAIA automatic qualifier out of perhaps the GPAC’s most challenging weight class – 133. He placed third at the conference championships after successfully shaking off a semifinal loss. Ranked eighth in the NAIA at 133, Garcia is now 15-3 overall with a trio of pins this season. The native of Escondido, Calif., lost only once in nine tries against GPAC opponents. Garcia is a transfer from Palomar College.
Ybarra enjoyed a solid first collegiate season. The rookie from Scottsbluff, Neb., ranked third on the team with 25 victories, four of which came by pin. The 125-pounder reached the GPAC semifinals at his weight before eventually settling for fifth place in the conference. Ybarra cracked the NAIA national rankings at various times this season. He placed at three tournaments and went 6-4 against conference opponents.
Concordia’s national qualifiers now get set for the 2019 NAIA Wrestling National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, March 1-2.
Feb. 25, 2019
It doesn’t always work out this way, but it’s pretty cool when it does. At long last, Walker Fisher has accomplished a career long goal in his last opportunity to make it happen. The realization is starting to set in for the product of Ashland-Greenwood High School. On a memorable day (Feb. 16, 2019), Fisher tweeted, “Your boy is a National Qualifier! Praise God. I finally made it, my season continues.”
A year after coming up agonizingly short of a berth to the national championships, Fisher has indeed ‘made it.’
Says Fisher, “I didn’t get the big exciting celebration that a lot of the guys get as soon as they win because there was a chance I would have to wrestle someone else for true second place (in the GPAC). I was actually rooting for a Morningside guy. I had looked away and Coach (Levi) Calhoun tapped me on the shoulder and was like, ‘Hey, hey, he’s about to pin him.’ As soon as I looked over the pin happened and I knew I was for sure going (to nationals). It was a cool experience. I shook Calhoun’s hand and gave him a hug.”
It was a well-earned hug for Fisher, who has experienced a lot in the moments that have led up to him qualifying for the 2019 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. The 174-pounder has been an underdog through much of his high school and collegiate careers. He never placed at the state championships as a Nebraska prep and he is sometimes overshadowed within his own weight class by star teammate Deandre Chery.
But Fisher’s persistence and resilience over four years has not been lost on Calhoun, who came to Concordia as an assistant at the same time Fisher entered the program as a student-athlete. There have been highs, lows, injuries, frustrations, championships and long hours in the room.
“It was really cool,” Calhoun said of sharing in Fisher’s joy at the GPAC championships in Orange City, Iowa. “He was so close last year and I know how devastated he was that he didn’t make it. He’s worked so hard and struggled through injuries. As a coach when you see a kid who accomplishes what he sets out to accomplish, there’s no better feeling than that.”
While Fisher came through with two clutch wins at the GPAC tournament to help put himself through to the national tournament, his senior season did not all go exactly according to plan. A shoulder injury has kept him out of several tournaments and duals throughout the 2018-19 campaign. On the plus side, Fisher got to ride off into the sunset with a victory in the final home appearance of his career.
It felt like the proper sendoff for Fisher, someone who exudes confidence. But yet, he’s been knocked down enough to be humbled and appreciative of what opportunities have emerged in the present day. He’s comfortable in his role as the underdog.
“It’s a testament to how hard I’ve worked,” Fisher said of his exceptional progress since freshman year. “Coming in I was definitely an underdog. I got beat up a lot my freshman year by a lot of the starters. Even as a sophomore I didn’t realistically think I’d be starting. Some things fell through and it worked out. I’ve just been building up from there to get to this ultimate goal.”
Fisher will forever be a link to a tremendous era in Concordia wrestling history. Fisher arrived in Seward two years after a historic class of recruits that included Ken Burkhardt Jr., Kodie Cole, the transcendent Ceron Francisco, Dmitri Smith (current graduate assistant) and others. Fisher has been a member of teams that have won GPAC championships in three of his four seasons and has been around for three different head coaches.
Through it all, Fisher has remained focused. He’s watched as those aforementioned names were showered with praise. He even traveled to the 2018 national championships as a spectator. It wasn’t easy for him to watch his teammates and some opponents that he had beaten throughout the course of the season. It’s made him stronger.
“Oh man, wrestling is definitely a sport that will teach you a lot of things,” Fisher said. “In terms of work ethic and every aspect of life, it’s made me a hard worker. I have a higher GPA now than I had in high school. Wrestling has definitely challenged my faith. It’s brought me a lot closer to God. It’s taught me a lot of things.”
A public health and fitness major, Fisher has provided a strong leadership presence for a team that has bounced back nicely this winter. Not only did the Bulldogs share the GPAC dual title, they bumped their number of national qualifiers up from three to five as compared to a year ago. A second team All-GPAC honoree, Fisher has made a big difference beyond the numbers. He’s served as a bridge while Concordia has transitioned through coaching changes in recent seasons.
“Walker has been one of those constants,” Calhoun said. “Nothing has changed with him. He’s always the guy who comes in and gets the work done. It’s nice to have a presence like that, especially as a senior in my first year. Walker is one of those guys who I can turn to and make sure guys are doing the right things and holding each other accountable. He’s been a blessing to me and our program.”
Sure it’s cliché to play up the underdog story, but Fisher will try to use it to his advantage this week in Des Moines. He’ll carry a chip on his shoulder knowing that few people expect him to reach the podium. At this point, no one really knows what will happen, but Fisher is certain to give it everything he’s got.
“I qualified for state twice but I never was a state medalist,” Fisher said. “That’s a big part of the reason I continued wrestling. I thought I was good enough to be a state medalist and I fell short. I felt like I had some unfinished business.”
Added Fisher, “Now I have one more goal: getting on the podium.”
Feb. 26, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – The field of 240 national qualifiers will descend upon Des Moines, Iowa, this Friday and Saturday for the 2019 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. The 62nd annual event will be held inside the Jacobson Exhibition Center and include five representatives from the Concordia University wrestling program. Session I is slated to get started at 10 a.m. CST on Friday. Preliminary brackets can be viewed HERE.
First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s qualifying group includes Deandre Chery, who will make his second appearance in a row on the national stage. Meanwhile, four Bulldogs will get their first taste of the NAIA national championships: Walker Fisher (174), Alberto Garcia (133), Zack Moistner (133) and Michael Stann (285). In his first experience at nationals last season, Chery notched an upset of Missouri Valley’s fifth-ranked Cody Carson before being eliminated with back-to-back defeats.
Chery and company will attempt to add their names to the program’s list of nine individuals all-time to claim All-America honors (see list at bottom). Those nine Bulldogs combined for 14 total All-America honors. Ken Burkhardt Jr. (2015, 2016, 2017) is the only three-time All-American in program history. From a team perspective, Concordia has placed 22nd or better at the national championships in each of the previous five seasons. An eighth place NAIA finish in 2016 stands as the best in school history.
The five national qualifiers this season is a bump up from the three the Bulldogs took to the national event in 2018. The school record for national qualifiers is 10, a figure achieved by both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 squads led by head coach Dana Vote. The 2014-15 team also owns the program record for most All-Americans in one year with four. Concordia has had at least one All-American in five-straight seasons.
The brackets are subject to change and are not considered official until ratified by the NAIA-Wrestling Coaches’ Association Bracketing Committee. Official brackets are planned for release on Thursday. For additional information on the NAIA Wrestling National Championships, click HERE.
Deandre Chery, Jr. | 174 | Miami Gardens, Fla.
*Second nationals appearance
2018-19 Record: 34-9 (17 pins)
NAIA National Seed: 9th
First match: First-round bye; will face (8) Jonathan Stewart (Williams Baptist)/Kody Davis (Embry-Riddle) in the second round.
Walker Fisher, Sr. | 174 | Ashland, Neb.
*First nationals appearance
2018-19 Record: 13-7 (4 pins)
NAIA National Seed: Unseeded
First match: vs. Sterling Griffin (Midway)
Alberto Garcia, Sr. | 133 | Escondido, Calif.
*First nationals appearance
2018-19 Record: 15-3 (3 pins)
NAIA National Seed: 12th
First match: First-round bye; will face (5) Zachary Durbin (Missouri Valley)/Isiah Lysius (Briar Cliff) in the second round.
Zack Moistner, Jr. | 133 | Fallbrook, Calif.
*First nationals appearance
2018-19 Record: 14-15
NAIA National Seed: Unseeded
First match: vs. Anthony Vargas (Life Pacific)
Michael Stann, Fr. | 285 | Temecula, Calif.
*First nationals appearance
2018-19 Record: 36-13 (16 pins)
NAIA National Seed: Unseeded
First match: First-round bye; will face (1) Brandon Reed (Lindsey Wilson)/Brix Bickley (Bethany) in the second round.
Ken Burkhardt Jr. (2015, 2016, 2017)
Giovanni Castillo (2018)
Kodie Cole (2015, 2016)
Ceron Francisco (2015, 2017)
Adam Joseph (2012)
Austin Mogg (2014)
Andrew Schulte (2015, *2016)
Julian Silva (2012)
Jacob Williams (2012)
*NAIA National Champion
Mar. 1, 2019
DES MOINES, Iowa – Senior Alberto Garcia blazed into the national semifinals with a pair of upsets on the opening day of the 2019 NAIA Wrestling National Championships on Friday (March 1). The field included five Bulldogs, who each took the stage at the Jacobson Exhibition Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Garcia is the lone Concordia representative still standing entering the final day of the event.
Garcia’s advancement ensures the program will have an All-American for the sixth year in a row. Head coach Levi Calhoun had hoped to put multiple grapplers on the podium, but the work of Garcia was a major bright spot on day one.
“Alberto came out on fire,” Calhoun said. “He came out and wrestled a really good match against (Julian) Gaytan and ended up getting the fall. It was really exciting. He was relentless today. He was continuously looking to score points. He never slowed down.”
Seeded 12th, Garcia tore through No. 5 Zach Durbin of Missouri Valley by major decision (10-2) before pinning Gaytan in the third period. Gaytan was a national finalist a year ago and was the 133-pound GPAC champion this season. The Palomar College transfer moved to 17-3 overall this season while becoming the 10th individual in program history to lock down All-America honors.
Concordia’s other four grapplers endured a less celebratory fate. Constants all season long, Deandre Chery (174) and Michael Stann (285) had their seasons end on Friday. Chery posted a win over Logan Bowen of University of Saint Mary (Kan.). That loss was sandwiched between defeats for Chery, who was seeded ninth. His elimination loss came at the hands of unseeded Noah Clary of Lourdes. Meanwhile, Stann went 0-2. He started his tournament by going up against the No. 1 rated heavyweight.
While ending his career, senior Walker finished earned his first ever win on the national stage. The 174-pounder from Ashland, Neb., toppled Sterling Griffin of Midway, 4-2, in the first round. Fisher then lost to a pair of seeded opponents to finish his run.
“Walker wrestled really tough,” Calhoun said. “He got taken down with literally one second left in that final match. He had a great tournament. I was just really excited to see him get to wrestle at nationals. He showed he’s able to compete with the best kids in the country. I’m really proud of his effort.”
Junior Zack Moistner was one of four Bulldogs to appear at nationals for the first time. He fell by technical fall and by pin at 133 pounds.
Garcia is still in the running for a national title. Andrew Schulte is the only Bulldog to ever win a national championship. He did so at 141 pounds in 2016. In order to get to the final, Garcia will have to get through top-seeded Shiquan Hall of Grand View University (Iowa). That match will likely begin at roughly 10:15 a.m. CST on Saturday. The winner will take on either Gresh Jones of Dickinson State or Erique Early of Indiana Tech.
Concordia All-Time All-Americans
Ken Burkhardt Jr. (2015, 2016, 2017)
Giovanni Castillo (2018)
Kodie Cole (2015, 2016)
Ceron Francisco (2015, 2017)
Alberto Garcia (2019)
Adam Joseph (2012)
Austin Mogg (2014)
Andrew Schulte (2015, *2016)
Julian Silva (2012)
Jacob Williams (2012)
*NAIA National Champion
Mar. 2, 2019
DES MOINES, Iowa – The last Bulldog left standing, Alberto Garcia officially etched his name into the record books as the 10th individual in Concordia University wrestling history to earn All-America accolades. The native of Escondido, Calif., began the second and final day (March 2) of the 2019 NAIA Wrestling National Championships still with a shot at winning a national title. He ultimately wound up in fourth place at 133 pounds.
First-year head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad qualified five grapplers for the national championships. They combined for 17 team points, which put the Bulldogs in 26th place in the NAIA.
Based on his No. 12 seed, Garcia was not a favorite to land on the podium at the national championships. He made big waves on day one by upsetting fifth-seeded Zachary Durbin of Missouri Valley College and then fourth-seeded GPAC champion Julian Gaytan of Midland. Those wins moved him to the semifinals for a matchup with No. 1 Shiquan Hall of Grand View University (Iowa). Garcia was dealt a 10-4 defeat, dropping him to the consolation bracket. That’s when the Palomar College transfer pulled off his third win of the weekend over a top 10 seeded opponent (17-10 triumph over No. 10 D’earion Stokes of Briar Cliff). Garcia’s run ended in the third-place match with a 9-6 loss to Dickinson State University (N.D.)’s third-seeded Gresh Jones.
Garcia recorded three of Concordia’s five victories on the weekend. Deandre Chery and Walker Fisher (both at 174 pounds) produced a win apiece before being eliminated. Meanwhile, Zack Moistner (133) and Michael Stann (285) went 0-2 in their first experiences at the NAIA national championships.
It was an overall solid 2018-19 season for the Bulldogs, who shared the GPAC dual title and then placed fourth at the conference tournament. The program has won GPAC championships in four of the past five seasons. It has also had at least one All-American in six-straight years.
Concordia All-Time All-Americans
Ken Burkhardt Jr. (2015, 2016, 2017)
Giovanni Castillo (2018)
Kodie Cole (2015, 2016)
Ceron Francisco (2015, 2017)
Alberto Garcia (2019)
Adam Joseph (2012)
Austin Mogg (2014)
Andrew Schulte (2015, *2016)
Julian Silva (2012)
Jacob Williams (2012)
*NAIA National Champion
Mar. 4, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – Senior Walker Fisher and junior Darrin Miller of the Concordia University wrestling program have both been named 2019 Daktronics NAIA Scholar-Athletes, as announced by the NAIA on Friday (March 1). Fisher is now a two-time Scholar-Athlete while Miller has earned the award for the firt time. A native of Ashland, Neb., Fisher is majoring in Public Health and Fitness. Meanwhile, Miller (Othello, Wash.) is majoring in Business Administration.
In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, must appear on the eligibility certificate for the sport and have attended two full years as a non-transfer or one full year as a transfer. A total of 61 wrestling student-athletes across the nation were named 2019 Scholar-Athletes by the NAIA.
Concordia University ranks as the NAIA’s all-time leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 1,405 and counting. The Bulldogs have been a regular national leader for both scholar-athletes and scholar-teams and are coming off a 2017-18 academic year that resulted in 77 more scholar-athletes and 20 scholar-teams (third most in the nation). Also in 2017-18, seven Bulldog student-athletes garnered both CoSIDA Academic All-District and CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades.
Mar. 28, 2019
This past offseason, Levi Calhoun became the fourth head coach of the Bulldogs since the reboot of the Concordia University wrestling program in 2009. Some members of the current senior class, such as Walker Fisher, were suddenly on their third head coach at Concordia. A three-year assistant for the Bulldogs, Calhoun was tasked with showing that the program remained on solid ground despite a bit of a step back the previous season.
The results may have surprised some onlookers, perhaps even some within the program. Some of the question marks that surrounded the team this past winter were answered in the affirmative.
“Without looking at results, as far as the team camaraderie and the culture, I was very happy with how the transition went,” Calhoun said. “The guys bought into everything that our staff presented to them. I was pretty happy with the way that they responded. As far as results, I don’t know that I knew what to expect at the beginning of the season. Winning a conference title in the regular season was definitely the highlight of the year. I don’t think it was anything anyone expected us to do.”
Courtesy of a 28-10 win at Northwestern on Jan. 31, Concordia clinched at least a share of the GPAC dual title, which means the program can now boast of conference championships in four of the past five seasons. The belief that such a feat was attainable got a big boost in Fremont on Nov. 15. These team successes were made possible by the efforts of many individuals. Junior Deandre Chery and redshirt freshman Michael Stann were consistent high achievers throughout the season and junior Alberto Garcia saved his best wrestling for the brightest stage.
The key numbers in terms of results were GPAC finishes of first in the regular season and fourth at the conference tournament and then a 26th place claim at the NAIA National Championships. Chery was a GPAC champion at 174 pounds and one of five national qualifiers. Garcia made waves at the national tournament by winning three times against opponents seeded in the top 10 on his way to collecting the program’s 15th all-time All-America award.
It won’t go down as the program’s best season ever, but it was an important one that displayed its resilience. All it needed was a little shot of confidence like it got when it knocked off defending GPAC tournament champion Midland, 21-17, in mid-November. The GPAC title would not have happened without the come-from-behind victory.
“I think it sparked us a little bit,” Calhoun said. “It proved to the guys that we belong at the top of the GPAC again. More than anything it gave us confidence and the drive to continue to improve. It was especially fun to do that at their place against our former head coach. It was definitely a confidence booster.”
National qualifiers other than Chery (174) and Garcia (133) included Fisher (174), junior Zack Moistner and Stann (285). All but Chery were first-time national qualifiers. Each of their stories this past season were special in their own right. Calhoun took particular joy in seeing Fisher take advantage of his last opportunity and Moistner reach the national stage in a classic underdog role.
Freshmen like Stann and 125-pounder Mario Ybarra of Scottsbluff, Neb., will certainly play a big role in the future of the program. At opposite ends of the weight spectrum, both burst onto the scene in their first collegiate seasons. Ybarra collected 25 wins while Stann rampaged his way to 36 wins and 16 pins. The opposition will have to deal with them for three more years.
“As a first year starter it’s tough to get used to things, but he jumped right in and was successful right away,” Calhoun said of Stann. “Having over 30 wins in any season in college wrestling is impressive, but to do it as a freshman – I’m just very excited. He still has a lot of room to improve and he’s hungry to improve. He’s willing to be coached and he wants to work hard. There will be high expectations for him.”
Chery clipped Stann for the team lead in pins with 17 and fell just behind him with 35 victories. The disappointment for Chery was not reaching the podium. Despite stellar overall seasons, Chery and Stann will be highly motivated to finish what they started this winter. The same thing goes for essentially all 2019-20 returners, with the exception of Garcia.
The road has sometimes been bumpy during the college career of Garcia, who is another in a wave of transfers from Palomar College in California. Injuries played a role in him wrestling only 23 matches for the season. A loss to D’earion Stokes in the GPAC championships prevented Garcia from having a shot at winning a conference title. Garcia eventually avenged that loss at the national championships where things came together for him.
“His mentality was the biggest factor in him being successful,” Calhoun said. “He flips a switch when he steps on the mat. No matter what the score is he continues to push the pace and try to score points, which is what we preach. He wrestled lights out at the national tournament.”
The question becomes: now what? Four of the five national qualifiers will be back for 2019-20. Calhoun would like to think that the 2018-19 campaign was a baby step forward on the road to increased national prominence. The program’s only top 10 NAIA finish (2016) came with the help of one of the most decorated recruiting classes in school history.
Calhoun and his staff, which includes former GPAC Wrestler of the Year Junior Lule, are going to work in efforts to surround the likes of Chery, Garcia, Stann and Ybarra with other high-end competitors.
“First we have to continue to develop the guys we have,” Calhoun said. “That’s going to be important. We have a lot of young kids coming up who will be vital to our success, and obviously recruiting is going to be huge. We want to fill our roster with guys who are going to represented Concordia Bulldogs Wrestling as we envision. Moving forward, we want to get back to being in the top 16, which gives you an automatic bid to National Duals, and then continue to climb up. GPAC titles are the expectation here and we want to go beyond that and do even more.”
May. 3, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – Not only GPAC champions on the mat, members of the Concordia University wrestling program earn high marks in the classroom. With a team GPA of 3.253 (among qualifying varsity competitors), the Bulldogs landed at No. 6 on the National Wrestling Coaches Association list of NAIA Scholar All-American teams. Head coach Levi Calhoun’s squad was represented on the NWCA NAIA Scholar All-American individual honor roll by senior Walker Fisher.
The Concordia wrestling program has been a regular amongst the top 10 of NAIA wrestling squads in terms of academics. In addition to a No. 6 ranking on the NWCA list this season, the Bulldogs landed at No. 10 in 2018, No. 6 in 2017, No. 5 in 2016 and No. 9 in 2014. The 2016-17 squad also had five of its team members appear on the NWCA list of All-Academic Individuals. Fisher, also an NAIA Scholar-Athlete, has twice been honored with NWCA Scholar All-American recognition.
In Calhoun’s first season as head coach, Concordia shared the GPAC dual title and went on to place fourth at the conference tournament and 26th at the NAIA national championships. Alberto Garcia earned All-America accolades in the 133-pound weight class.
Concordia recent NWCA All-Academic finishes
2019 – 6th
2018 – 10th
2017 – 6th
2016 – 5th
2014 – 9th
Jun. 6, 2019
SEWARD, Neb. – Co-champions of the 2018-19 GPAC dual season, the Concordia University wrestling program is looking ahead to 2019-20. On Thursday (June 6), the schedule for this coming winter was announced to the public. The new campaign will officially get underway on Nov. 3 at the Dan Harris Open hosted by Baker University (Kan.). The Bulldogs also welcome fans to join them for their blue-white intrasquad inside Walz Arena on Oct. 25.
Levi Calhoun completed his first season as head coach in 2018-19. Concordia went 7-1 in conference duals while toppling most of its conference opponents in dominant fashion. The Bulldogs went on to finish 26th at the national championships behind 133-pound All-American Alberto Garcia. Fellow national qualifiers Deandre Chery (174-pound GPAC champion) and heavyweight Michael Stann were consistent high performers throughout the season. Expectations are always lofty for a program that has captured GPAC titles in four of the past five seasons.
The 2019-20 slate features five home duals dispersed throughout the season. The first one is set for Nov. 15 when Northwestern will be in town. Concordia will also host two nonconference foes in Ottawa University (Jan. 9) and Bethany College (Feb. 6), both members of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. A major highlight just before Christmas will be a journey to Las Vegas for the Desert Duals. While in Sin City, the Bulldogs will dual four times on Dec. 22 against opponents yet to be announced.
The GPAC Duals go a long way towards deciding the conference regular-season champion. Concordia will be at Doane for the 2020 GPAC Duals. The Bulldogs will be joined in Crete on Jan. 25 by host Doane, Briar Cliff, Hastings and Jamestown. Last season Concordia went 4-0 while hosting one of the two GPAC Duals sites.
The GPAC Championships will be hosted by Morningside in Sioux City, Iowa, Feb. 21-22. The NAIA Wrestling National Championships have been moved to the Wichita area. The national event will be staged at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kan., March 6-7.