News and notes:
Friedrich Arena: The arena housed within the Walz Human Performance Complex has a new name. In honor of Brian and Laurie Friedrich, it is now called Friedrich Arena. Brian Friedrich filled the role of Concordia University, Nebraska president from 2004 through the fall semester of 2019. Together, Brian and Laurie served Concordia for nearly 30 years. Brian is now the president at Concordia University, St. Paul. For more on the naming of the arena, click HERE.
21st annual Cattle Classic raises food and funds for Blue Valley Community Action Food Pantry: The 21st annual Cattle Classic yielded 8,426 cans of food and $1,907 in cash. The food and money will be donated directly to the Blue Valley Community Action Food Pantry this holiday season. Pac N Save Grocery matches the number of canned food items collected each year at the Cattle Classic. The totals amassed for the 21 years of the Cattle Classic are 104,384 cans of food and $30,700 in cash donations.
Senior class about more than football: The 16 Concordia University Football seniors and their teammates have not been oblivious to the unique dynamics that have made 2020 unlike any other year. As those seniors waited to be recognized prior to kickoff on Senior Day Saturday (Nov. 7), they have prepared themselves for something greater than football. Lane Castaneda, Trevor Dey and Chase Hammons each provided some insight on what it’s like to be part of the Concordia Football program and why it was important for them to put together the “Follow Us” video message. For more, click HERE.
Expectations remain high for baseball program: The Concordia Baseball program will enter 2021 with high expectations once again. In conference and NAIA polls released last week, Head Coach Ryan Dupic’s squad appeared at No. 1 in the GPAC rating and received votes in the NAIA coaches’ poll. This marks the fourth-straight season that the Bulldogs have garnered votes in at least one national poll. The baseball season was cut short in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Concordia owned a 14-7 record when the campaign was ended abruptly. For more on the polls, click HERE.
Fall GPAC championships update: As a reminder, GPAC postseason tournaments for the sports of men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball have been postponed until the spring 2021 semester (dates to be announced). That means that those sports will be finished with fall competition as soon as their regular seasons are complete. The postponement did not affect GPAC championships for cross country, football or golf. The GPAC Cross Country Championships were held this past Saturday (Nov. 7) while golf completed its fall conference rounds in late September/early October. On the other hand, the GPAC title for football is decided solely by the regular season.
HomeTown Ticketing and Fan protocols for home events: Fans who plan to attend Concordia Athletics home events are advised to read through our protocols HERE. All fans are expected to self-screen and are required to wear masks while viewing contests in either Bulldog Stadium or Walz Arena. Non-family members are welcome to be present on our campus during these contests. Fans are also encouraged to order advance tickets through HomeTown Ticketing. By purchasing tickets online, fans are guaranteed entrance on game days. Concordia is allowing 75 percent capacity in outdoor venues and 50 percent capacity in indoor venues.
Bulldog Coaches Show airs every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. CT: The Bulldog Coaches Show is underway in its fifth year of existence. The show airs live for a half hour every Thursday beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT on KTMX-FM 104.9 Max Country. The weekly feature can also be heard live via 104.9 Max Country’s website or by downloading the Max Country app. Throughout the 2020-21 season, Bulldog football, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball contests will be aired live on Max Country. Evan Jones serves as the host of the coaches’ show as well as the play-by-play voice for football and basketball. Frank Greene is in his sixth season calling Concordia volleyball.
Concordia Sports Network: Live webcasts for most home varsity contests can be accessed by visiting https://www.cune.edu/
· The 2020 cross country season has come to a conclusion. The Bulldogs had hoped for better results last week at the GPAC Cross Country Championships (held at Fox Run Golf Course in Yankton, S.D.). Concordia settled for conference place finishes of fourth on the women’s side and sixth on the men’s side. Head Coach Matt Beisel’s programs were coming off of 2019 GPAC finishes of first for the women and fourth for the men. Entering last week’s meet, the Bulldog women were ranked 22nd nationally while the men were receiving votes in the national poll. For more on Concordia Cross Country, click HERE.
· The defending GPAC champion Bulldog women posted a team score of 102 at the GPAC Championships. It put them behind Dordt (27), Morningside (94) and Northwestern (95). On the men’s side, Concordia finished with 156 points. The top five conference place finishers were Dordt (34), Northwestern (55), Doane (77), Midland (133) and Morningside (145). Individually, all 20 Bulldogs came up shy of all-conference territory. Concordia leaders on their respective sides were sophomores Kylahn Heritage (17th) and Antonio Blaine (30th).
· All teams are allowed to enter up to 10 runners into the conference meet. Here are the results for the Bulldog women, including their conference placements and 5k times at the GPAC Championships:
o 17. Kylahn Heritage – 20:00.14
18. Sydney Clark – 20:03.86
20. Lydia Cook – 20:06.21
23. Alyssa Fye – 20:14.27
25. Rylee Haecker – 20:25.86
38. Amie Martin – 20:54.95
40. Alyssa Bierwagen – 21:00.92
46. Keri Bauer – 21:28.77
49. Abi DeLoach – 21:38.77
71. Grace Reiman – 23:12.86
· Here are the results for the Concordia men, including their conference placements and 8k times at the GPAC Championships:
o 30. Antonio Blaine – 28:12.35
31. Calvin Rohde – 28:18.68
33. Jordan Lorenz – 28:27.93
39. Owen Dawson – 29:02.51
40. Camden Sesna – 29:02.61
42. Ethan Pankow – 29:06.15
46. Wyatt Lehr – 29:27.89
51. Nick Zadar – 29:41.07
55. Ethan Ideus – 30:13.54
62. Ethan Hensley – 30:39.66
· A number of Bulldog runners had earned All-GPAC honors in the past and were hoping to put together similar performances. On the women’s side, Concordia brought back three runners who placed in the top 15 in 2019: Heritage (second), Fye (fourth) and Clark (12th); (graduated senior Rebekah Hinrichs placed fifth). Current junior Abi DeLoach checked in at 14th as a freshman in 2018. On the men’s side, Lehr placed 12th in the GPAC as a freshman and 15th in the conference as a sophomore.
· Under Beisel, the women’s program has achieved GPAC finishes of sixth, fifth, fourth, first and fourth, respectively. Meanwhile, the men’s program has turned in conference placements of sixth, sixth, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, over that same time period. In the history of the program, Concordia has celebrated 12 conference cross country titles (six for both the men and women). That storied history also included 25 conference individual championships (most recent were Sarah Kortze and Colin Morrissey in 2012).
· The Bulldog women enjoyed a fine 2020 season that included top-three team placements at each of the five regular-season meets: third (out of eight) at the Dordt Sunflower Opener, second (out of five) at the Hastings Bronco Stampede, first (out of seven) at the Doane Dean White Invite, second (out of 13) at the Briar Cliff Invite and third (out of 14) at the Mount Marty Invite. The meet title at the Dean White Invite marked the program’s fourth first-place claim since the beginning of the 2019 season. The Concordia men were crowned champions of the Bronco Stampede back on Sept. 12. They also turned in place finishes of third (out of eight) at the Sunflower Opener, second (out of six) at the Dean White Invite, sixth (out of 14) at the Briar Cliff Invite and fifth (out of 13) at the Mount Marty Invite.
· The conference meet did not yield any national qualifiers for the Bulldogs. That means the focus now shifts to indoor track and field for Beisel’s distance crew. The NAIA Cross Country National Championships will be held on April 9, 2021, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For Concordia, the indoor track season will get started with the Bulldog Early Bird Meet (Dec. 4-5) next month.
· The fall regular season is winding down for the Bulldogs, who played this past Wednesday and Sunday in a pair of GPAC makeup games. Concordia let a 2-0 lead slip away and settled for a 2-2 draw at Midland on Nov. 4. Four days later, the Bulldogs hit the road and earned a 5-0 victory at Presentation. Just one game remains on the fall slate for Head Coach Thomas Goines’ squad, which has moved to 8-3-1 overall and to 8-2-1 in the GPAC (25 points). For more information on Concordia Women’s Soccer, click HERE.
· The Bulldogs are currently tied with Briar Cliff (8-0-1 GPAC) for the most points towards the league standings. Mathematically, Concordia could still earn anywhere from the first through fourth seed in the GPAC tournament. Morningside (7-1-1 GPAC) and Hastings (7-2 GPAC) also remain in the hunt near the top of the conference standings. No matter how things shake out the rest of the way, the Bulldogs have guaranteed an improved placement from last season when they went 6-4-2 in conference play and were the sixth seed in the GPAC postseason.
· A ninth GPAC win would tie the program record for most conference regular-season victories in a single season. Currently, that record is held by the 2017 team that went 9-0-1 in the GPAC and won the outright conference regular-season championship. Since the start of the 2014 season, the program has won at least six GPAC games each season. Over that time, Concordia has gone a combined 52-13-11 in conference regular season action. A run of five-straight appearances in the GPAC tournament final came to an end in 2019.
· The Bulldogs were led by two different multi-goal scorers last week. Junior Mikeila Martinez put away both goals in the draw at Midland while running her team season high goal count to six. In the matchup with Presentation, sophomore Jaiden Beecher knocked in two goals for the first multi-goal game of her career. There may be more of that to come for the Omaha native, who has scored four goals this season and six for her career.
· The offensive improvement this season has been a major key to having a rebound season. Concordia has totaled 33 goals in 12 games after scoring only 19 goals in 19 games in 2019. Only the potent Briar Cliff squad (4.33 goals/game) has been prolific offensively when factoring in GPAC games only in 2020. The Bulldogs have averaged 3.0 goals per game in conference play. That number has been bolstered by victories by scores of 12-0 over Mount Marty, 7-0 over Doane and 5-0 over Presentation.
· Concordia has also been solid defensively as a unit. The win at Presentation marked the team’s seventh shutout of the season. The Bulldogs rank third in conference play in terms of fewest goals allowed per game (0.64) behind only Briar Cliff (0.22) and Morningside (0.33). Senior goalkeeper Lindsey Carley has earned credit for five shutouts this season and for 21 in her career. The native of Urbandale, Iowa, ranks 27th nationally for goals against average (0.68).
· The goal scoring has been accomplished by committee this season. Thirteen different Concordia players have contributed at least one goal to the season ledger. As mentioned, Martinez paces the squad with six goals while Beecher comes in next with four. Other Bulldogs with multiple goals in 2020 include Jennika Chapman (three), Cheyenne Smith (three), Aliyah Aldama (two), Madeline Haugen (two), Lina Kirst (two) and Sydney Ross (two). In the win at Presentation, Allee Downing got on the board with her first goal of the campaign.
· Concordia will go up against GPAC frontrunner Briar Cliff at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday in another makeup game. The Chargers have been impressive having outscored GPAC opponents by a combined total of 39-2. Briar Cliff’s Flor Suarez tops the conference with 14 goals on the year. The Bulldogs won at Briar Cliff in last season’s meeting, 2-1, in overtime.
· Not unusual for 2020, the Bulldogs played only once last week. The result was a favorable one for Concordia as it emerged from Fremont, Neb., with a 1-0 win at Midland. The Bulldogs were able to make a late first-half goal from Matt Schultz stand up in the victory over a 2019 national qualifier. Thirteenth-year Head Coach Jason Weides’ squad has moved to 8-2-1 overall and to 6-1-1 (19 points) within the GPAC. Only Hastings (24 points) has more points towards the league standings. For more information on Concordia Men’s Soccer, click HERE.
· Four teams would appear to have a realistic shot at contending for the GPAC regular-season title. Those four teams are Hastings (8-1 GPAC), Concordia (6-1-1 GPAC), Briar Cliff (6-1 GPAC) and Morningside (6-1 GPAC). The Bulldogs were beaten by Hastings earlier this season, but still have Morningside and Briar Cliff coming up on the slate. Incredibly, the Broncos won every single GPAC regular-season title until last season when the Mustangs captured the crown. Concordia placed in a tie for second in the regular season in 2017.
· Sophomore Matt Schultz has been a nice story for the Bulldogs. Formerly a midfielder, Schultz has filled in on the back line and has made six starts. The Lincoln Southwest High School product also found the back of the net in the draw at Mount Marty on Oct. 12. The 6-foot-3 Schultz played a role in Midland enduring a shutout loss for the first time in 2020. He’s also helped pick up the slack with center back Decker Mattimoe sidelined by injury.
· This space has been used frequently in the past to detail the impressive consistency of the Bulldog program. Even in a campaign with a shortened regular season, Concordia again nearing the 10-win mark. It’s a figure the program has reached in each of the previous nine seasons while under the leadership of Weides. Over that stretch that began with the 2011 campaign, the program has put together a combined record of 108-58-20. A high water mark and school record of 16 victories was achieved in 2017.
· Twelve Concordia players have scored at least one goal this season, including eight who have two or more: Moises Jacobo (five), Garrett Perry (five), Ryan Wokutch (four), Carlos Orquiz (three), Yessine Bessaies (two), Iker Casanova (two), Schultz (two) and Isaiah Shaddick (two). Such balance is consistent with last year’s team that was led by Jacobo (six) and Perry (five) in the goal scoring department. The Bulldogs have not had a double-digit goal scorer since three individuals accomplished that feat in 2017: Micah Lehenbauer (12), Lewis Rathbone (12) and Marcelo Hernandez (11).
· Among GPAC teams, Concordia ranks third in goals allowed per game (1.09) and fifth in goals scored per game (2.73). For the season, the Bulldogs are plus-18 in the goal department. The shutout of Midland marked the team’s fourth clean sheet this season and the first time in 2020 that Concordia has won by a 1-0 score. The Bulldogs have also earned shutout victories over Kansas Wesleyan University, 4-0, Northwestern, 4-0, and Dakota Wesleyan, 2-0. Conversely, Concordia has scored at least one goal in each contest this fall.
· Normally this would be conference tournament time for GPAC men’s soccer. However, the postseason will take place during the spring semester with dates to be determined. Using last season as an example, the Bulldogs finished the regular season on Nov. 2 and then fell in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals on Nov. 6. Currently, the conference regular season is scheduled to extend all the way until Nov. 21 for the Bulldogs. That’s the same date that Concordia played in the opening round of the national tournament (at Oklahoma Wesleyan) in 2015.
· As long as things remain in place, the Bulldogs will have more a standard two-game week. Concordia is slated to play at Morningside (7-2, 6-1 GPAC) at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday before hosting Briar Cliff (8-1, 6-1 GPAC) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Both contests will be pivotal in deciding seeding within the top four spots of the league standings. Both games were originally slated to be played earlier in the season.
· Though there was a bye sandwiched in there, the past three outings have put the Bulldogs through a gauntlet that has included matchups with Northwestern, Dordt and Morningside – the top three teams in the GPAC standings. Concordia managed to score first this past Saturday, but the powerful Mustang offense could not be stopped. Morningside piled up 654 total yards on its way to a 56-22 win inside Bulldog Stadium. Fourth-year Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad has slipped to 4-3 following three-straight defeats. Concordia’s most recent win came over Jamestown on Oct. 3. For more information on Bulldog Football, click HERE.
· Mustang Head Coach Steve Ryan has built a program that all others in the conference are envious of. Concordia has struggled mightily in meetings with Morningside in recent years. The Bulldogs last claimed victory over the Mustangs in 2003 (34-19 score in Seward). Morningside, winner of the 2018 and 2019 NAIA national championships, has now won 50 GPAC games in a row (dating back to 2014). Concordia did acquit itself better than a year ago when it trailed at halftime, 42-0, at Morningside.
· The Bulldog passing game did some nice things while exposing holes in the Mustang secondary. Senior Art Anderson (who plans to return next fall) is back in the mix after missing a good chunk of this season. He caught six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. His 28-yard touchdown reception came in the second quarter with the help of a beautifully executed throw from quarterback Blake Culbert. Prior to last week, Anderson had caught just two passes on the season. In his career, the San Antonio native has recorded 76 receptions for 724 yards and four touchdowns.
· On a day when Concordia recognized its senior class, senior linebacker Lane Napier spent much of the afternoon chasing around Morningside’s talented skill players. Napier wound up with 17 tackles while pushing his career total to 387 tackles (a school record). Injuries have limited Napier in 2020, but he’s still managed to lead the team with 40 tackles this fall. The David City, Neb., native has earned first team All-GPAC honors three times and was named a first team All-American by the Associated Press in 2018.
· There may not be a more consistent performer on the roster than junior Garrett Schardt, who just might be the top tight end in the GPAC. He caught four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown last week. In the game’s opening touchdown drive, Schardt made a key 55-yard reception on third-and-seven to set the Bulldogs up with a first and goal. Over the past four games, Schardt has caught at least three passes each time out. He enjoyed a career day at Northwestern with seven receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns. On the season, Schardt has 22 catches for 374 yards and three scores.
· Speaking of pass catchers, junior Korrell Koehlmoos has been the team’s most reliable deep threat. One of his four receptions versus Morningside went for 48 yards and set up a field goal. Koehlmoos (1,347 career receiving yards) is nearing 1,500 career receiving yards, a number only five players in program history have achieved. The native of Pilger, Neb., may even have an outside shot of breaking the record held by Jared Garcia (2,495 yards). Koehlmoos is averaging 20.9 yards per reception this season and 15.1 yards per catch in his career.
· Opponents have been cracking down on Concordia’s running game. Morningside is known to have a stout run defense and held tailback Jonah Weyand to 37 yards (and a touchdown) on 17 carries. The Crete High School product has rushed for 556 yards and eight touchdowns on the season with a large portion of that production coming against Doane (169 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and Hastings (177 rushing yards, five touchdowns). Weyand earned NAIA National Offensive Player of the Week honors after his performance against Hastings.
· Quarterback Joe Dolincheck and the Morningside offense can make a solid defensive team like the Bulldogs look porous. Concordia entered the game allowing 19.8 points per game (tied for 11th fewest in the NAIA), but it could not get off the field this past Saturday. The Mustangs did not punt a single time. The only real defensive stop came from a Jayzen Armstrong interception (Concordia also recovered a muffed punt snap). Morningside was 6-for-14 on third downs, but it picked up almost all of those non-conversions on fourth down tries (6-for-7).
· Two road games are all that remain on the 2020 slate. The Bulldogs will be at Midland (5-3) on Saturday for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff in Fremont. Concordia is looking to get back into the win column in this series after having dropped the 2018 and 2019 meetings. The Bulldogs and Warriors have both suffered their three losses against the same opponents. Midland is coming off a 28-3 road win over Doane.
· The win streak reached five as the Bulldogs recently finished their regular-season home slate. In action that took place two weeks ago, Concordia defeated College of Saint Mary (Oct. 28) and Doane (Oct. 29) in straight sets while earning regular-season sweeps of both opponents. The Bulldogs then had this past week off (scheduled match at Hastings on Nov. 3 postponed). It came after a period that saw them host four matches in a seven-day stretch. Third-year Head Coach Ben Boldt’s squad sits at 12-3 in the GPAC, putting it in third place behind Jamestown (13-1 GPAC) and Northwestern (13-2 GPAC). For more information on Concordia Volleyball, click HERE.
· For the second year in a row, the Bulldogs will finish in the top three of the final GPAC regular-season standings. The wins over College of Saint Mary/Doane guaranteed that Concordia could do no worse than the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament (it is now looked into that spot). That means the Bulldogs are certain to host a match in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals (which will take place in the spring semester). When Concordia placed third in the GPAC in 2019, it marked the program’s best conference finish since a second-place claim in 2001. The program remains in search of its first GPAC title since 2000.
· Last week the Bulldogs were hoping to to achieve something that has not been done by the program in the era of 16-match conference regular seasons (2002-present). Concordia has never gone unbeaten against its Nebraska GPAC rivals during that timeframe. Currently, the Bulldogs are 7-0 against in-state foes having earned season sweeps of Midland, College of Saint Mary and Doane. Concordia now hopes to eventually do the same to Hastings, a team it defeated at home in three sets on Sept. 19.
· One more victory would also give the Bulldogs a new program record for most conference wins in a season with 13. That total would eclipse the standard set by the 2015 national tournament team that went 12-4 within the GPAC. Concordia has had other recent double-figure GPAC win totals in 2014 (10-6) and 2019 (11-5). A member of the ’14 and ’15 teams happened to be inside Walz Arena on Oct. 29. Alum Claire White now serves as a graduate assistant for the Doane volleyball program.
· The word “balance” has become like a broken record for this team. From an attacking perspective, senior Kara Stark led the way with 19 kills over the two most recent victories. Four other Bulldogs had 14 or more kills: Arleigh Costello (17), Gabi Nordaker (16), Camryn Opfer (14) and Kalee Wiltfong (14). Each of the five aforementioned players have more than 115 kills on the season. Their totals are: Nordaker with 135, Stark with 133, Costello with 126, Opfer with 122 and Wiltfong with 116. The highest hitting percentage belongs to Wiltfong (.323).
· It did not take Ben Boldt long to reach the 50-win mark as head coach at Concordia. He is now 52-23 (.693) overall since taking over the program prior to the 2018 campaign. That winning percentage is the highest among head coaches in school history with at least 50 victories. The 25 wins posted by the 2019 squad were the second most for the program during the GPAC era. Current Concordia professor Vicki Boye (167-136) remains the program’s all-time winningest head coach. Next on the list is Rachel Miller (107 wins), a former All-American player for the Bulldogs.
· Concordia continues to own a large advantage in service. In the matchup with College of Saint Mary, the Bulldogs had seven aces compared to four errors while the Flames had no aces compared to three errors. The next evening, Concordia registered eight aces and six errors as Doane notched two aces and five errors. For the season, the Bulldogs have accumulated 108 aces (88 errors) while their opponents have just 43 aces (100 errors). Concordia ranks 17th nationally with 2.16 aces per set.
· A number of Bulldogs rank in the top five on the GPAC individual leaderboards, including Tristin Mason (first in aces per set), Marissa Hoerman (third in aces per set), Tara Callahan (third in aces per set), Nordaker (third in blocks per set) and Wiltfong (fifth in hitting percentage). Callahan ranks fifth nationally in assists per set (11.04). As a team, the Bulldogs lead the GPAC in assists per set (2.2) by a wide margin. The next closest is Midland (1.5).
· Things are a bit up in the air at this moment. The coaching staff spent significant time last week recruiting at the state tournament while the team went without a match. Concordia may end up playing Hastings (7-7, 6-6 GPAC) next week, but that is still to be determined. In terms of GPAC seeding, that match wouldn’t change anything for the Bulldogs, who are locked into the No. 3 seed. The conference and national tournaments will take place during the spring semester.
· The season got underway this past week at the 21st annual Cattle Classic. A young squad did not have a chance to ease into the season from a level of difficulty standpoint. The Bulldogs were beaten by Dakota State University (S.D.), 94-82, on Nov. 5 and by 20th-ranked Carroll College (Mont.), 73-66, on Nov. 7. Dakota State may not be unranked for long considering it also owns a win over No. 8 Dordt. This is just the beginning of Head Coach Drew Olson’s 15th season leading the program. For more information on Concordia Women’s Basketball, click HERE.
· In some ways, this feels a little like the 2015-16 campaign when the Bulldogs were left to replace a 2014-15 senior class led by National Player of the Year Bailey Morris. The rotation has been revamped and has a much more youthful look. When Concordia took the floor at the 2020 NAIA Division II national tournament (before it was canceled), the starting lineup featured four seniors and a sophomore (Mackenzie Koepke). Olson actually started three freshmen in the season opener last week: guards Kendal Brigham, Bailey Conrad and Taysha Rushton. That initial lineup also included veterans Taylor Cockerill and Rylee Pauli.
· Cockerill, or “TC” as she’s often referred to within the team, seems to be fully recovered from the knee injury that took her out of the entire 2019-20 season. The Waverly High School product is a star that Concordia can lean on. Her two-game totals at the Cattle Classic were: 56 points, 19 rebounds, seven steals and five assists. In the opening game of the Classic, Cockerill posted 33 points and a career high 14 rebounds. The 33 points were the second highest-single game total in Cockerill’s career.
· Speaking of her career, Cockerill is just 26 points shy of reaching 1,000 during her time with the Bulldogs. Considering the makeup of this team and the need for Cockerill to get buckets, every single school scoring record could be in jeopardy. The 40 points she put up in the 2018-19 season opener landed at No. 2 on the program’s single-game scoring list behind Morris (45 points). On a lot of teams coached by Olson, the scoring has typically been spread around amongst several standout individuals.
· Despite the 0-2 start, Concordia still has high aspirations for this season. Olson expected some growing pains for a varsity roster that included seven freshmen who suited up at the Cattle Classic. The Bulldogs were picked second in the GPAC (behind Dordt) and are ranked 11th in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll (now one division for the NAIA). It just feels a little odd to lose back-to-back games, something that hadn’t happened for the program since the 2015-16 season. Concordia also isn’t used to losing at home, where it was 63-1 during the 2016-17 through 2019-20 campaigns.
· In the Dakota State game, Cockerill (33) was joined in double figures in scoring by Rushton (11), Conrad (10) and Taylor Farrell (10). Two days later, Bulldogs to score 10+ included Cockerill (23), Rushton (13) and Farrell (10). Both Cockerill and Rushton were named to the All-Cattle Classic Team. There are high hopes for Rushton, who is a native of Lubbock, Texas. There were some flashes of brilliance and signs of inexperience throughout the weekend. Better shooting performances (15-for-70 combined from 3-point range last week) will help Concordia going forward.
· The string of home games to open the season continues this week as GPAC play tips off. The Bulldogs will host Midland (3-0) at 6 p.m. tonight (Nov. 10) before welcoming Northwestern (0-2) to town for a 2 p.m. tipoff on Saturday. The Warriors were picked ninth in the GPAC, but they have started impressively with three-straight nonconference wins. Like Concordia, the Red Raiders (picked fourth in the GPAC) lost twice while hosting their own weekend classic.
· The 2020-21 season has gotten started with two weekends of nonconference action. The Bulldogs went 1-1 at the Hastings Classic before hosting the Cattle Classic last week. Concordia overmatched its foes at the 21st annual event, taking care of Emmaus Bible College (Iowa), 107-48, and Manhattan Christian College (Kan.), 90-65. Both of those opponents compete as part of the National Christian College Athletic Association. Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad sports a 3-1 record heading into the start of GPAC play. For more information on Concordia Men’s Basketball, click HERE.
· Not to take away from last week’s opponents, but the Bulldogs will probably learn a lot more about themselves in the GPAC games leading up to Thanksgiving. However, Concordia earns some credit for taking care of business at the Cattle Classic. Over the two wins, the Bulldogs shot a combined 48.7 percent (75-for-154) from the floor while holding their foes to 35.8 percent (43-for-120) shooting. Emmaus missed its first 13 shots from the floor as part of a sluggish start. Over the second halves at the Cattle Classic, Concordia outscored Emmaus/Manhattan Christian, 117-63.
· Juniors Gage Smith and Justin Wiersema were named to the All-Cattle Classic Team. From an individual perspective, Smith’s 30 rebounds may have been the most eye-popping stat of the weekend. Smith collected 19 of those boards against Manhattan Christian. A native of Elizabeth, Colo., Smith could very well end up being the Bulldog who makes the largest leap forward from last year. He is averaging 10.0 points and 11.0 rebounds through the season’s first four games. Smith has started all four outings after making only one start over his first two collegiate seasons.
· Wiersema, another Colorado native (Loveland), has been the team’s most reliable scorer so far. He poured in career high 23 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field and 8-for-12 shooting from the foul line versus Manhattan Christian. Wiersema also enjoyed a 22-point outing in the win over Friends University (Kan.). Optimism for outperforming the preseason polls has a lot to do with the return of Wiersema along with fellow backcourt star Carter Kent. Both Bulldogs earned All-GPAC recognition last season as sophomores.
· A large positive turnover margin hasn’t necessarily been part of the winning formula in recent years, but it has been in the early going. Concordia forced 48 turnovers while committing only 27 itself over the weekend. On the season, the Bulldogs rank fifth nationally with a turnover margin of +9.25 (per game). They also rank No. 5 in the NAIA with 47 total steals. Both Kent and Wiersema have swiped seven steals
· The lopsided nature of last week’s outings give Limback opportunity to see the entire varsity roster. Eleven Bulldogs totaled 10 or more points over the two games. Four Concordia players notched 20 or more points: Wiersema (34), Sam Scarpelli (24), Kent (23) and Smith (21). Freshman Noah Schutte supplied the biggest highlight worthy play of the weekend with a one-handed slam versus Emmaus. Schutte totaled 11 points and seven rebounds at the Classic. Limback likes the potential of freshmen such as Schutte and Cory Davila.
· GPAC play tips off tonight (Nov. 10) with Concordia hosting Midland (0-1) at 8 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs swept the regular-season series from the Warriors last season. The Bulldogs will then welcome Northwestern (2-0) to Friedrich Arena for a 4 p.m. tipoff on Saturday. The Red Raiders were picked second in the GPAC preseason poll while Midland landed at 10th. Saturday’s meeting will be a rematch of the 2020 GPAC tournament quarterfinals (74-63 Concordia win).
· The defending GPAC champions opened up the 2020-21 season with a weekend (Oct. 30-31) in York, Neb. On a season opening Friday (Oct. 30) night, the Bulldogs struggled in the top half of their lineup and were beaten, 30-19, in a dual at York College. The next day at the York College Open, 14 Concordia wrestlers combined for 31 wins as part of the season’s first tournament. Junior Mario Ybarra claimed the 133-pound title and avenged his Friday night loss in the dual. This marks year three for Levi Calhoun as the program’s head coach. For more information on Bulldog Wrestling, click HERE.
· Calhoun helped the program return to its dominant ways last season when Concordia went 8-0 in GPAC duals and also won the GPAC tournament. The 2019-20 squad went 13-2 overall in duals in the process of tying the school record for most wins in a season. The backbone of the team was a senior class that included All-Americans Tanner Farmer and Alberto Garcia. Six of the eight Bulldog national qualifiers from last season have graduated. Calhoun’s coaching dual record entering this season stood at 22-6.
· Ybarra is certainly the most decorated of the team’s returners. He came up a single point shy of All-America honors last season. His run last winter included a 125-pound GPAC title and an overall record of 22-9. The native of Scottsbluff, Neb., aspires to not just get on the podium next March, but to be a national champion. His tournament at York saw him go 5-0 with two pins. Ybarra defeated York’s Pierce Mederios, 3-2, in the championship match. The night before, Ybarra had lost to Mederios in sudden victory.
· The next two most noteworthy returners are senior Gabe Crawford (165) and junior Issiah Burks (157). Crawford surprised some observers last season when he won the 157-pound GPAC title. Crawford did not wrestle in the season opening weekend, but plans to bump up to 165 upon his return to the mat. Meanwhile, Burks put together a fine tournament at York. He went 4-1 with four pins and placed second at 157 pounds. Burks now has 28 career collegiate wins to his credit.
· Concordia found itself in too big of a hole to climb out of in the dual at York. The Panthers won the first five matches, three by fall, and led 24-0. The Bulldogs got on the board with Jose Sanchez’s pin at 165. Timothy Huber (decision at 174), Mason Garcia (pin at 197) and Jacob Telles (major decision at 285) followed with wins for Concordia. Six of the 10 matches ended with pins (four for the Panthers, two for the Bulldogs). The two programs had not dualed in York since January of 2014. Concordia won last year’s meeting, 30-16, in Seward.
· Ybarra (5-0), Burks (4-1) and Telles (4-1) were the team leaders in terms of most wins at the York Open. In addition, seven Concordia grapplers emerged from the open with exactly two wins: Jeaven Scdoris (141), Sanchez (157), Tavoris Smith (157), Huber (174), Cyrus Marshall (184), Oscar Ramirez-Garcia (184) and Garcia (197). One win apiece was claimed at the York Open by Carter Willis (125), Jeremiah Sistek (133), Jett High (149) and Andrew Reid (184).
· There are no preseason rankings to publicize just yet, although an initial set of ratings are expected this week. With the loss of six national qualifiers (and GPAC Wrestler of the Year Tanner Farmer), the Bulldogs may not wind up being the conference favorite this season, though the GPAC would seem to be pretty wide open. As a program, Concordia has either shared or won the GPAC regular-season title outright in five of the past six years. It has also claimed four postseason tournament titles during that stretch. From a national perspective, the last six years have seen the Bulldogs place 12th, eighth, 15th, 22nd, 26th and 15th, respectively.
· Due to the cancellation of the Dan Harris Open hosted by Baker University, Concordia had this past week off from competition. Next up on the schedule is a dual at Dakota Wesleyan at 6 p.m. CT on Friday. The very next day, the Bulldogs will take part in the Dakota Wesleyan Open. Concordia fans will have to wait until Dec. 10 (dual versus Morningside) for Concordia’s first home appearance.