By Josh Bennett
The wrestling team won both of their duals on Friday at the Old Gym. They beat Grand Canyon University 32-4 and beat Appalachian State 21-18. CSUB improve their team record to 2-1.
The first meet against Grand Canyon started off on a high note. 125-lb freshman Sergio Mendez won the opening match in dramatic fashion by scoring two points off a takedown in the closing seconds of the match to pull off the 5-4 comeback win.
The victory seemed to give the `Runners all kinds of momentum, and they never looked back, winning 8 of the remaining 9 matches to hand Grand Canyon their first loss at the Division One level.
“I think whoever starts off for us [has to] set the tone. It was good, it was a big win for him,” said Head Coach Mike Mendoza. “Coming back from behind gets everyone fired up.”
One match of note from the Grand Canyon duel was 157-lb redshirt junior Spencer Hill’s match against Grand Canyon sophomore Bryan Wood. The two met before in a junior college championship, which Hill won.
“It was pretty neat. Guys like that you don’t expect to see again. It was pretty cool to wrestle him again. We’ve had some close matches, so I kind of wanted to wrestle him again and prove I could do more and I did, so I was happy about that win,” said Hill.
The second meet against App State was much closer than the first meet. App State scored two early pins to give them a preliminary lead, but CSUB rallied, winning 6 of the 10 matches to win.
“Last week we had a performance that was sub-par [against Cal Poly] and I think that kind of fired everybody up. I think we were all kind of disappointed of how we wrestled,” said Mendoza.
“Today we just wanted to come out and fight and wrestle as hard as we can, and I think the guys did that.”
174-lb redshirt sophomore Bryce Hammond, who is ranked 14th
Wrestling News, won both of his matches convincingly, proving why he is a ranked wrestler.
“There’s definitely a target because that’s the way qualifying goes. The guys want to beat me to get to the NCAA tournament. I don’t think too much of it. I’m excited to be up there and I plan on finishing higher, so I enjoy it,” said Hammond.
133-lb redshirt sophomore Ian Nickell, who is also nationally ranked, won his only match of the night against App State.
One might question the two very different scores in the two matchups, especially when Grand Canyon beat App State earlier in the dual.
“[Appalachian State] has a good team. They got some tough guys and it was a tough fight for us,” said Mendoza. “We just matched up better against [Grand Canyon]. App State lost to Grand Canyon and we killed Grand Canyon and had a close match with [App State]. I think it’s just the way we lined up.”
“If anything it’s a little bit easier than a tournament. My freshman year, one tournament, I had 7 matches in one day, so whether you win or lose that first match, you just have to be ready to fight for that second [match],” said Hammond on wrestling twice in one night.
“We saw that tonight, it makes a big difference when you come out and you’re mentally prepared to go 7 minutes as hard as you can,” said Mendoza. “I think that their performance tonight was a big improvement from last week and I think they see the value of being ready and what happens if you’re not ready.”
The `Runners hosted the Roadrunner Open on Sunday at Selland Arena in Fresno, which the team finished tied for fourth with 53 points. The next team meet is a quad-dual meet at Stanford, where they will face Stanford, Utah Valley and Nebraska on Nov. 30 starting at 11am.