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Eric Peterson, Published January 13 2014

Concordia wrestling claims its best finish at National Duals

MOORHEAD – Concordia had a historic wrestling effort this past weekend in Iowa.

The Cobbers advanced to the Division III finals at the NWCA National Duals, which was held in Des Moines, for the first time in program history.

No. 6-ranked Concordia lost to top-ranked Wartburg (Iowa) College for the championship, but beat No. 3-ranked Wabash (Ind.) College and No. 2-ranked Augsburg (Minn.) College to make the finals.

“It shows our guys that we belong as one of the top teams in the country,” Cobbers head coach Matt Nagel said. “It was an all-out effort by everybody.”

Since the national duals started in 2002, Wartburg and Augsburg are the only two teams that have won the Division III crown.

Wartburg has been in the finals in all 13 years, winning the past four titles. The Cobbers’ top finish in the event prior to Sunday was sixth place.

“I think we impressed some people, but within ourselves we thought we had a good team,” said Cobbers senior Jake Long, who wrestles at 149 pounds.

Saturday, the Cobbers earned a 22-16 win against No. 11-ranked Wisconsin-La Crosse. Later that day, Concordia added a 22-13 victory against Wabash.

That set the stage for Sunday. The Cobbers scored a 21-15 victory against Augsburg to reach the finals. Wartburg then ended the Concordia run with a 29-6 victory.

“The biggest thing I look at is how much heart we had,” said Long, who had an 4-0 record at the national duals. “It is nice to wrestle some of those (top) teams.”

Long is ranked No. 3 in D-III in his weight class. He’s one of three Concordia individuals ranked in the top 10 in their respective divisions.

Senior Kyle LeDuc is ranked No. 8 at 157, while senior Cody Kasprick is ranked No. 4 at 285. Both seniors had 2-2 records in Des Moines.

Concordia also got solid performances from some of their unranked wrestlers.

Nagel said 125-pounder Gabe Foltz, 141-pounder Yonas Gebreab and 184-pounder Christian Harrison had strong showing. While all three had 2-2 records, they wrestled tough in the matches they didn’t win, Nagel said.

Cobbers junior Jacoby Bergeron had a strong weekend, too, with a 3-1 record at 133 pounds.

“I think it was a great experience to get into the finals,” Nagel said. “It shows we have room to get even better.”

The Cobbers (9-2) have another tough dual next weekend. They host Augsburg at 7 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Auditorium.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to make another statement,” Nagel said of wrestling highly regarded Augsburg again. “They are going to come back and they have everything to gain, and we have everything to lose.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com