By Nick Fequiere
The CSU Bakersfield wrestling team begins its season on Nov. 7 at a meet against Gardner Webb, Anderson College, and Appalachian State in Boone, N.C. After a 7-5 win-loss record last season, the team is looking to rebound and come back even stronger.
This effort is bolstered by the return of redshirt-senior Bryce Hammond, whose season was cut short last year by a shoulder injury sustained at the California Collegiate Open. Before his injury, Hammond went 14-7 with one pin and four technical falls. Hammond is ready to pick up where he left off.
Ian Nickell is another redshirt-senior poised to have a great season for the Roadrunners. Nickell is moving back up to 141 lbs after finishing last year in 3rd place at 133 lbs. He finished well enough to earn a place at the NCAA Championship, where he finished 1-2 to bring his season to a 24-11 record with four pins. Nickell said that his goal for the upcoming season is “to be a national champion.”
“You don’t want to go in with the mindset that you’re going to win most of your matches,” Nickell said. “You want to win them all.”
On the subject of which programs will boast some of their tougher competition, Hammond said that Oregon State always has a tough lineup from top to bottom.
Both Hammond and Nickell noted that Arizona State University and Stanford are two very tough opponents. Despite a slew of tough match ups on the road to begin its season, the team feels confident in its chances considering the wealth of talent and experience it possesses.
Two wrestlers who fit that description are redshirt-senior Reuben Franklin and redshirt-sophomore Matt Williams, who both share the 197 slot. Both men enjoyed successful seasons last year with Franklin coming in second to Williams at the California Collegiate Open. With so much talent concentrated in one slot, either Franklin or Williams may move up to the 207 slot on a permanent basis.
Other key wrestlers include redshirt-senior Jesus Ambriz, redshirt senior Adam Fierro and redshirt sophomore Coleman Hammond, Bryce’s younger brother.
Ambriz, who filled in for the elder Hammond at the Pac-12 Championships last year, has spent time in four different weight classes during his collegiate career. Fierro will look to build upon last season, in which he experienced his first trip to the NCAA Championship. Coleman Hammond is the talented newcomer who came in fourth place in his first year at the Pac-12 Championships and is once again slated to compete as the starter at the 149 slot.