Patrick Trautfield

If there was ever a weekend designed to prepare the Cal Poly wrestling team for the Pac-10 Tournament, it would be this one.

The Mustangs have three dual meets – including two in conference – and head to a tournament in a span of three days. That stretch begins when Cal Poly visits Division II San Francisco State at 2 p.m. today and Pac-10 foe Stanford at 7 tonight.

“It’s tough when you’re weighing in twice in one weekend, but you have to do that for the Pac-10 (Tournament), so in some ways I think it’s good for our guys to have to do that right now,” Cal Poly head coach John Azevedo said Monday at a weekly athletics department press conference. “In NCAAs, you’re weighing in three times, three days in a row, so it’s good practice for them. It’s not easy, definitely.”

The Bay Area trip concludes with the All-California Open, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at San Francisco State.

But the most important part of the weekend begins at 2 p.m. Sunday when the current top two teams in the Pac-10 standings battle it out in Mott Gym. The 17th-ranked Beavers are 13-4 overall and 5-0 in the Pac-10 and the unranked Mustangs are 4-6 and 4-1.

“Oregon State will be a big one Sunday,” Azevedo said. “I think it’s a big meet. It’s important to get some momentum going into the Pac-10 (Tournament).”

Cal Poly senior Darrell Vasquez (21-3), who is ranked sixth in the InterMat/NWCA/NWMA poll at 133 pounds, said there is some pressure to come out of the Stanford dual meet still in position to challenge Oregon State for Pac-10 supremacy.

“If we wrestle hard, we wrestle good enough, our expectations aren’t going to fall because I approach every match the same,” Vasquez said Thursday in a phone interview. “We set the goal for ourselves. We’re pushing ourselves as a team.”

After this weekend, the Mustangs have only three dual meets remaining before the Pac-10 tourney, which runs from Feb. 24 to 25 in Bakersfield.

Cal Poly already has some momentum after finally getting back in the win column with a 25-15 home win over Pac-10 rival Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 26. That came after four straight losses in dual meets, including an 0-3 mark at the Chippewa Challenge hosted by Central Michigan on Jan. 21.

The Mustangs have four ranked wrestlers – junior Chad Mendes (6-2) No. 11 at 125 pounds, Vasquez, senior Matt Monteiro (18-6) No. 16 at 197 and senior Cody Parker (11-4) No. 14 at heavyweight.

Mendes, however, is still recovering from what Azevedo called an elbow that is “hyperextended pretty seriously.”

“It’s week-to-week,” Azevedo said of Mendes’ elbow. “We’ll see what happens. We’re not sure. We’re just taking it week-to-week and hopefully we can get him back.”

One wrestler Cal Poly is glad to have back from injury is senior 141-pounder Dave Roberts (9-5), who was recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this season. Roberts won an 8-3 decision over Cal State Bakersfield’s Matt Schumm on Jan. 26 in his first home dual meet of the season.

“It was good to get Roberts back,” Azevedo said. “He wrestled well. That’s the key. He performed well. That was good to see. It helped his confidence. At the same time, we lost Nick Hernandez last week with a broken toe in practice Thursday, but the doctor said he should be able to start wrestling again in a couple weeks. We just hope that we can be healthy by the Pac-10 (Tournament). We’ll definitely be in the hunt for the title.”

Hernandez (174), a sophomore, is 8-10 this season. He will be trying to bounce back this weekend after suffering three straight losses, one of which a 12-2 major decision.

Vasquez said the injuries Cal Poly has dealt with has created some frustration, but nothing insurmountable.

“We have a lot of guys sitting out right now,” Vasquez said. “We’re not going to have a full team together. It’s kind of frustrating.”

As for his season, Vasquez said things have gone pretty much as expected. He has six major decisions, four pins and one technical fall among his wins.

“I feel really good,” he said. “My three losses have shown a lot of things I have to work on. That’s the kind of stuff that I look forward to each year.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *