Wrestler aims for national championship


Chance Rich facing off against Indiana’s #13Brock Hudkins. Photo by Larry Slater

David Mendoza, Staff Writer

Heading into his fourth year, one of the most notable Cal State Bakersfield wrestlers Chance Rich, sits down to talk about this past season. The 133 lb. redshirt sophomore comes from Santa Clarita, California and is studying for a Business Administration degree, looking forward to graduating next fall semester. When asked who motivated him to join this sport he gave credit to his dad who encouraged him to try out wrestling at the age of 7. From he continued his journey not only with wrestling but also Jiu Jitsu. Coming into high school, he realized that he wanted to solely focus on wrestling. He states his dad, “pushed me to be the best that I can be in this sport.”  

What attracted Rich to CSUB was wanting to stay in California, the coaching staff, and the amazing history of all the great wrestlers this program has produced. 

For example, extraordinary heavyweight wrestler Stephen Neal concluded his wrestling career for the Runners as four time All American and two time undefeated NCAA Division I champion. He also contributes the influence of his coach and former runner John Azevedo who was a two time NCAA Division II champion at 126 pounds. Rich wants to be a part of this history and make his mark.  

When asked which wrestler inspires him, he shared Takuto Otoguro, who is a wrestler from Japan and became the youngest Freestyle World Champion at the age of 19 years old at the 2018 World Championships. Otoguro also won gold at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics at 65 kg against Mongolian wrestler Tumur-Ochir Tulga. This Japanese wrestler inspires Rich because he is only a couple years older than him and captures the mindset that he says, “you can be the best with what you got.”   

Chance Rich’s most successful moment for this season came at the Pac-12 Championship in Tempe, Arizona where he upset #12 Devan Turner from Oregon State in a semi match with a takedown in the second sudden victory period. This was a huge milestone for Rich as it punched his ticket to the NCAA Championship and has grappled against Turner on several occasions, but had never beaten him. Rich goes on to emphasize the importance in not giving up. 

“No matter how many times you get kicked while you’re down you just keep getting back up and you will figure it out eventually. It’s just sometimes it takes a little more time than you would like it to be,” Rich states. 

Looking back at this past season, Rich reflects on the short season he had due to sustaining an injury to his knee at the beginning and testing positive for COVID. Rich explains that despite these obstacles, it allowed him to be able to grow his passion for wrestling. Dealing with both of these setbacks challenged Rich where he could not train that much, having breathing issues throughout the season, and not having endurance to keep up with others on the mat.  However, Rich did not let these adversaries hold him back. 

Rich shares, “I learned the most about my wrestling and about what I need to do to become a national champ next year and get on that podium.”  

The biggest takeaway Rich learned was working on his mindset as he not only had to focus on wrestling, but also his family and academics. He did hit some bumps on the road coming back with only a month or so left in the season but with the support of his coaches, family, and through prayer he made the best of his season.  

Rich states that his goals for next season remain the same. 

“Same thing as always… national champ you know,” he believes that this will happen for him as this season has made him focus on different areas in his technique that need to be worked on to accomplish this goal. He also wants his teammates to accomplish this goal for themselves in their respective weight class as he sees the talented guys that are part of the team.  

He shares, “Guys like Albert Urias and Angelo Martinoni are great wrestlers you know? They are right there and they do all the right things too so I just want to see them to succeed. I want these guys to come along with me so we can accomplish our goals as individuals and as a team.”  

Rich continues to train to stay in shape for next season, as he shifts his focus to Freestyle wrestling and pursuing trophies. Be on the lookout for this Runner next season as he looks to come with grit and determination to leave his mark on the mat.