Wrestlers suffer defeats at NCAA Championships


Samuel Marshall/Eric Evans Photo

Matt Williams competes at the NCAA Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, March 16. Photo: gorunners.com/Samuel Marshall

Vincent Perez

Sports Editor

A year of perseverance and great victories will not be shown on three CSU Bakersfield wrestlers’ records this season with All-American statuses.

CSUB finished 33rd overall for its best finish since 2005.

Senior Matt Williams, at 197 pounds, Sean Nickell (133) and Sergio Mendez (125) were all defeated in the consolation rounds of the NCAA Championships on Saturday, March 16 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

“It was a tough day for us,” head coach Manny Rivera said to gorunners.com. “We didn’t accomplish what we came for. I hope this experience will motivate our underclassmen for next season and I am proud of our seniors for their efforts.”

Nickell, a redshirt-junior, won by decision over Dennis Gustafson, of Virginia Tech University, 13-8 in the second round of consolation matches. However, he ended his year with a 12-5 loss to Mitch McKee, Minnesota’s No. 16. He was competing well in the first two rounds, but found himself down 9-5 before the third round began.

Nickell ended his year 24-12 and should return for his redshirt-senior year ready for another attempt to qualify for NCAA Championships next season.

Redshirt-senior No. 15 Williams won his second round consolation match but lost his third. He took down Christian Brunner of Purdue, 3-2 in the second round of matches.

Williams ultimately lost to No. 7 Frank Mattiace, from Penn State University. Mattiace chose for the down position in the third period. He escaped Williams’ attempt and took a 5-4 lead. Williams suffered a takedown after and a one-point penalty that led to his 8-5 defeat. He finished the season 30-9.

Williams ended his Roadrunner career in the loss to Mattiace. He finished his collegiate wrestling career with 96 victories, tied for 15th all-time at CSUB.

Sergio Mendez, a redshirt-senior, fell to Ryan Millhof of Arizona State University in the second round of consolation matches. He lost 17-2 by tech fall.

Mendez, who finished 24-14 this season, also wrapped up his collegiate career at CSUB. He totaled 69 victories. Mendez is tied for 12th all-time in pins (22) at CSUB.

On the first day of NCAA Championships, Russell Rohlfing (141), a redshirt-sophomore, lost in his second championship trip, to No. 5, two-time All-American, Kevin Jack of North Carolina State. Rohlfing could not find his footing and lost 10-0 by major decision.

Redshirt-senior Coleman Hammond defeated No. 6 Michael Kemerer of Iowa, yet later in the first day, Hammond’s collegiate career would end. He lost to No. 11 Clayton Ream, from North Dakota State University.

Hammond finished 27-14 this season and is ranked 25th all-time at CSUB in wins (87).

Penn State won the tournament for a seventh consecutive year. The Nittany Lions finished with 141.5 points to the win the team title, and their wrestlers went 4-1 in the championships.

The Roadrunners lose only their seniors Williams, Mendez and Hammond for next season. The CSUB wrestling program has the bulk of their squad capable of achieving great accolades next season.