Road Warriors

Senior Ty Johnson won four matches and was one of six place winners at the Cliff Keen-Mike Duroe Invitational. (Photo courtesy of Mike Gravdahl)
Senior Ty Johnson won four matches and was one of six place winners at the Cliff Keen-Mike Duroe Invitational. (Photo courtesy of Mike Gravdahl)

For the second straight weekend Concordia traveled south to Iowa to compete against some of the best teams in the region. And for the second straight weekend the Cobbers came home with team and individual success stories.

On Saturday the Cobbers went to Cornell College to participate in the highly competitive Cliff Keen Mike Duroe Invitational. Formerly called the Matman Invitational - the tournament was renamed in honor of Cornell's late coach Mike Duroe, a widely admired leader in United States wrestling.

Concordia finished the busy day by having a pair of finalists, six place winners and finished fifth in the team standings that featured 17 teams.  CC was only separated by a mere 7.5 points from host Cornell who won the meet.  

Sophomore 125-pounder Jake Nohre and senior 174-pounder Nick Gravdahl led the Cobbers with runner-up finishes.

After receiving a bye in the opening round, Nohre dominated his next three opponents with a 6-0 decision, a 13-2 major decision, and an electrifying 52-second pin to earn a spot in the championship bout. Nohre's second-place finish earned 17 team points for the Cobbers.

Gravdahl had no first-round bye but he made quick work of his first two opponents - pinning the two in a combined total of less than two minutes. The senior had to wrestle all seven minutes of his next two matches and didn't surrender a single point as he won 3-0 in the quarterfinals and 5-0 in the semifinals. His five wins on the day earned his a second-place finish and 18 team points.

Joining the two Cobber finalists were fifth-place finisher senior Ty Johnson and sophomore Benjamin Bogart.

Manning the 149-pound weight class for Concordia, Johnson rattled off three consecutive major decision victories to put himself in the semifinals against Stevens Institute of Technology's No.5-ranked wrestler. Johnson's run would come to an end in that bout, but he wrestled back for fifth place and a critical 12 team points.

Bogart's route to fifth place proved more circuitous than that of Johnson. At 133 pounds, Bogart pinned his first opponent before being sent to the wrestlebacks after a loss to Luther College in the second match. Bogart responded by winning three straight matches before another loss to the same Luther representative put him in the fifth place bout. Bogart fell behind early in his final action of the day, but he was unphased by the first period deficit as he came back to win by fall.

Senior Travis Deegan went 4-2 to earn fourth place in the 165-lb weight class. Like fellow seniors Gravdahl and Johnson, Deegan used three consecutive victories to put himself in the semifinals. It was a Buena Vista University foe who prevented Deegan from making the finals, but the senior would earn a measure of vengeance in his very next match by defeating another Buena Vista wrestler with a thrilling sudden victory takedown. An unfortunate penalty point in Deegan's final tilt was all that prevented him from taking third place in the tournament.

The final Cobber place winner was freshman 141-pounder Bret Wilson. Wilson had the toughest opening round draw of any Concordia athlete as he squared off against the top-ranked wrestler in the country at the very beginning of the tournament. Despite that early setback, Wilson proceeded to win his next four matches, including two pins and one major decision. His efforts earned him the consolation championship and he earned 6.5 team points.

Overall, the Cobbers won 36 matches, including 23 bonus-point victories, as they continue to show their ability to put up big-score wins in multi-team invitationals.

UP NEXT: Concordia return's to single-team dual-meet action this week when they square off in the always-anticipated dual with the No.1-ranked Augsburg. The Cobbers and Auggies will take to the mat on Thursday, January 17 at 7 p.m. in Minneapolis.