SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Armed with seven nationally ranked wrestlers for the first time in 40 years, the Cal Poly wrestling team opens a highly anticipated 2022-23 season Saturday with a non-conference dual meet at California Baptist.
First bout inside Van Dyne Gym begins at 1 o’clock.
Last year’s Mustang squad produced a 22nd-place NCAA finish, the program’s highest national placing in 12 years and its second straight top-25 finish, with a pair of All-Americans for the first time in 10 years as Evan Wick placed third at 165 pounds and Bernie Truax earned his second straight fourth-place finish.
Wick has completed his collegiate eligibility and is now serving as an assistant coach with the Mustangs, but Truax headlines a strong nucleus of returnees with 64 career wins and a No. 5 national ranking by InterMat. Now a junior, Truax will move up to 197 pounds this season, his fifth weight class in four years at Cal Poly.
“It is always exciting to begin a new year, with a fresh start, to see where we are at,” said seventh-year Mustang head coach Jon Sioredas. “We did graduate Evan Wick, who is now on staff, but return the majority of our team with the addition of two grad transfers and a star freshman coming out of redshirt.
“We have had fantastic training in our offseason and cannot wait to compete,” Sioredas added.
Also returning are No. 19 Adam Kemp at 184 pounds, No. 24 Legend Lamer at 165, No. 29 Lawrence Saenz at 141 and No. 31 Antonio Lorenzo at 125. Kemp, Lamer and Lorenzo also were national qualifiers a year ago while Saenz qualified for the NCAAs as a redshirt freshman at Fresno State.
Luka Wick, a younger brother of Evan Wick who was 12-0 with eight falls in three open tournaments as a redshirt a year ago, winning two titles and finishing second in the other event, is ranked 29th at 157 pounds.
And Cal Poly also added Dom Demas of Oklahoma to the roster during the offseason. Ranked No. 13 at 149, Demas was 78-21 in five seasons with the Sooners, including a fourth-place finish in the NCAAs as a freshman, and transferred to Cal Poly to pursue a master’s degree in business analytics.
Stepping in at the three other weight classes are Ethan Rotondo, a transfer from Wisconsin, at 133 pounds, Brawley Lamer or Jarad Priest at 174 and Trevor Tinker at 285.
Rotondo was 61-38 with the Badgers and transferred to Cal Poly to pursue a master’s degree in packaging value chain. Lamer, who has earned 48 wins at Cal Poly, graduated last spring and is pursuing his MBA degree while the 6-foot-7 Tinker was 8-4 in open tournaments during his redshirt year.
Cal Poly enters the year ranked No. 24 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll.
“Our goals remain the same — continuous improvement,” said Sioredas. “We have been able to continually build successful teams with our core value based leadership model because our student-athletes understand our purpose and mission here at Cal Poly.”
California Baptist is coached by Derek Moore, who was named interim head coach after Lennie Zalesky resigned last April. The interim tag was removed in July. A former wrestler at UC Davis, Moore first joined CBU as an assistant coach in 2017 under Zalesky, who was Moore’s coach at UC Davis when he won a national title at 141 pounds in 2007.
The Lancers joined the Big 12 Conference as an affiliate member for wrestling last summer.
Cal Poly defeated California Baptist 30-12 in their last meeting two years ago in San Luis Obispo and leads the all-time series, 5-3.
Comments from Sioredas on each weight class entering the season:
125: NCAA qualifier Antonio Lorenzo begins his sophomore campaign and continues to progress nicely.
133: Sixth-year grad transfer Ethan Rotondo has wins over multiple All-Americans and has grown tremendously since his arrival on campus over the summer.
141: NCAA qualifier Lawrence Saenz, now a junior, is healthy and has made significant improvements over the offseason.
149: Two-time All-American and five-time World Team member Dom Demas, a transfer from Oklahoma, will look to make a splash at his new weight class.
157: Redshirt freshman Luka Wick, one of the highest-ranked recruits to choose Cal Poly, is coming off an undefeated freshman redshirt campaign.
165: Two-time NCAA qualifier Legend Lamer is now up two weight classes for his junior season and has improved immensely over the summer.
174: Sixth-year super senior Brawley Lamer, redshirt freshman Jarad Priest, redshirt freshman Kendall La Rosa and senior Nathan Tausch will all battle it out for the 174 spot this season. All four student-athletes have been training at a high level and look to make an impact on the national stage.
184: NCAA qualifier Adam Kemp is also up a weight class for his junior year after advancing to day two of the NCAA Championships last season.
197: Two-time All-American Bernie Truax, a junior, is now in is fifth weight class in four years after back-to-back fourth-place finishes at the NCAAs.
285: Trevor Tinker has gained a tremendous amount of muscle in the offseason and continues to develop in his wrestling talents as he begins his redshirt freshman campaign.
125 — Antonio Lorenzo (CP) vs. Elijah Griffin (CBU)
133 — Ethan Rotondo (CP) vs. Hunter Leake (CBU)
141 — Lawrence Saenz (CP) vs. Christian Nunez (CBU)
149 — Dom Demas (CP) vs. Chaz Hallmark (CBU)
157 — Luka Wick (CP) vs. Joseph Mora (CBU)
165 — Legend Lamer (CP) vs. Mitchell Mesenbrink (CBU) or Mateo delaPena (CBU)
174 — Brawley Lamer (CP) or Jarad Priest (CP) vs. Louis Rojas (CBU)
184 — Adam Kemp (CP) vs. Caden Gerlach (CBU)
197 — Bernie Truax (CP) vs. Elijah Sobas (CBU)
285 — Trevor Tinker (CP) vs. Chris Island (CBU)