By Vincent Perez
Assistant Sports Editor
The CSU Bakersfield wrestling team (2-4) finished second of 22 teams in their own Roadrunner Open on Sunday, Nov. 19. Three Roadrunners reached weight-class championship matches, winning two.
Senior Matt Williams remained undefeated this season and won the 197-pound weight class championship against Stanford’s Nathan Traxler, by decision, 12-8.
“I like competing. It was a close one,” said Williams. “That’s the joy of wrestling, is battling.”
In Palo Alto, during their Nov. 11 dual, Williams beat Traxler 5-4, by decision.
“This time, I wanted to widen the gap,” said Williams.
Williams is ranked No. 10 in the country. But, he said that rankings don’t matter.
However, he added, “If they put me at No. 1, they got it right. If they don’t, that’s their bad.”
Sean Nickell, a redshirt-junior, won the 133-pound weight championship and second weight championship for CSUB.
Nickell beat Dylan Duncan of Illinois by a 10-4 decision.
After the clock ran out, Duncan gave Nickell a shove in the face. Nickell said he was a better wrestler than Duncan and it showed.
Redshirt-senior Sergio Mendez (125) reached his weight championship, but lost to Wisconsin’s Travis Piotrowski, via decision 11-4.
Redshirt-sophomore Lorenzo De La Riva (165) lost his championship match against Evan Wick of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin won five weight championships at the Roadrunner Open, leading the team to a first-place finish as a team.
Head Coach Manny Rivera said that the two championship wins was good for the team.
“It’s nice to get a bigger portion of our season done.” Rivera added that Nickell wrestled his best wrestling of his career in his championship victory.
Redshirt-sophomore Russell Rohlfing (141) and redshirt-freshman Dominic Ducharme (184) both won their 3rd place matches.
On Nov. 17, CSUB hosted No. 18 Wisconsin and No. 25 Pittsburgh.
CSUB lost to Pittsburgh 21-18 and Wisconsin, 22-18, despite leading 11-0 to Pittsburgh and 9-0 to Wisconsin to start each dual.
Rivera said, “We wrestled poorly against Pittsburgh. We threw that one away.” He added, “We put ourselves in position, won our first few matches and had some letdowns.”
Mendez (125) had two victories on the day against Brendan Price of Pittsburgh by decision (9-5) and he pinned Wisconsin’s Ethan Rotondo.
Williams (197) defeated Pittsburgh’s Kellan Stout by major decision (11-3) and earned a 4-1 decision over Wisconsin’s 16th-ranked Hunter Ritter.
Williams said, “It’s just having fun. The goal is to dominate, and you got to love what you do. Let the results take care of themselves.”
He added he wants to win as a team.
“If you look back, the mistakes we made, they’re just silly mistakes. We got to go back and work the fundamentals of wrestling,” said Williams.
In his first match of the season, redshirt-sophomore Matt Penyacsek (285) pinned Wisconsin’s Ben Stone early in the second period, which inched CSUB closer to Wisconsin.
Penyacsek said he wanted to get the pin for the team win. “I just hope to make a good contribution,” said Penyacsek.
On Nov. 11, the Roadrunners lost another close match, 18-16 to No. 18-ranked Stanford. Sophomore De La Riva (165) won by decision over Stanford’s Dallavia 5-4. No. 19-ranked redshirt-sophomore, Rohlfing earned a major decision (14-3) over Stanford’s Isaiah Locsin.
Both teams exchanged wins and team scores came down to the last match of the night.
The final team score came down to the heavyweights. At 285, No. 12 Nathan Butler, of Stanford, pinned CSUB freshman Jarrod Snyder with 32 seconds left in the first period.
Next, CSUB hits the road for the two-day Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Dec. 1-2.
Following that, the Roadrunners travel to Fresno State Dec. 8 and face Northwestern Dec. 18 in San Luis Obispo, California.
Rivera said that the wrestling team will be ready for the invitational.
“We got a nice break and time to get ready.”