MITCHELL, S.D. (11/12/16)---Competing in the shadow of the Corn Palace in Mitchell, the Cobbers competed in the ultra-competitive Dakota Wesleyan and came away with a trio of Top 5 finishes.
The DWU Open is one of the biggest tournaments of the season and featured a wide variety of competition from top NAIA teams to NCAA Division I, II and III schools. Concordia used the invite to gage their early-season progress and head coach Phil Moenkedick was pleased with how some of the Cobbers stepped up to the level of wrestling.
"This tournament is always a tough one for the wrestlers," said Moenkedick. "There are a lot of wrestlers which can mean a lot of matches on one day. I am happy with the way our younger athletes competed against competition that in most cases has a ton of college experience."
Concordia had a pair of sophomores and a junior finish in the Top 4 of their weight class. Sophomore Nick Gravdahl finished third at 157 while junior Aaron Dick was third at 133. Parker Jackson picked up a fourth-place finish at 174.
Gravdahl lost his first match of the day but then rattled off six straight wins to go 6-1 and finish third. Gravdahl recorded wins against wrestlers from Division II Southwest MN State, Concordia (Neb.) and Morningside before posting an overtime win over Tyler Nation from Augustana (S.D.) in the third place battle.
Gravdahl is now 8-3 on the season after going 2-2 in the opening weekend of the year.
Dick was one of the Concordia wrestlers who showed early-season improvement. After going 0-2 in the opener at Wis.-Stevens Point, Dick went 4-1 with four-bonus-point victories in the second invite of the year. Dick didn't have to do as much work as Gravdahl because he won his first two matched on his way to earning third-place honors. Dick won his opening match by a major decision and then won by a 17-2 technical fall in the quarterfinals. He dropped his semifinal match but then rebounded to get a pin fall in the consolation semifinal and had a 15-5 major decision in the third-place match.
Jackson was competing in his first tournament of the season. Like Gravdahl, Jackson lost his opening match of the day and then had to take the long road to the third-place match.
After dropping a major decision in the first round, Jackson posted four straight wins to earn a spot in the third-place match. He won a hard-fought 4-3 decision in the first round of wrestlebacks and then got a pin fall, major decision and medical forfeit to step into the third-place bout. Jackson fell 4-2 to a wrestler from Southwest MN State.
The biggest example of how deep the Dakota Wesleyan Open is came at 165 where junior Jacob Johnson won five matches but didn't get to the podium. He went 5-2, losing in overtime and by three points, and lost in the consolation semifinal.
Johnson had big wins over wrestlers from DII schools Southwest MN State and Augustana and is now 8-3 on the year.
Joe Heinz was in a similar situation to Johnson as he went 4-2 and lost in the consolation semifinal at 157. He won his first two matches but then lost in the quarterfinals. Heinz won his first two consolation bouts before dropping a 3-1 decision. Heinz is now 7-4 in his first two meets.
Other multiple-victory winners at the meet included Ben Baumgartner at 149, Travis Deegan at 165, Collin Dolejs at 174 and Kody Van Den Eykel and Travis Adams at 285.
COBBER RESULTS BY WEIGHT CLASS
- 133: Aaron Dick 4-1, third place
- 141: Adam Presler 1-2; Cody Weiland 0-2
- 149: Blane Tschida 1-2; Ben Baumgartner 3-2
- 157: Nick Gravdahl 6-1, third place; Joe Heinz 4-2
- 165: Jacob Johnson 5-2; Travis Deegan 3-2
- 174: Parker Jackson 4-2; Collin Dolejs 3-2; Joseph Grove 0-2
- 285: Kody Van Den Eykel 2-2; Travis Adams 2-2
WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will open its dual-meet season when they host MSU Moorhead on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. The Cobbers beat the Dragons 16-15 last year and have won six straight duals against MSUM. Concordia will then host the annual Finn Grinaker Open on Saturday, Nov. 19 beginning at 9 a.m.