The wrestling team entered the season with high hopes in a year of transition. Last year’s head coach John Azevedo promoted Mark Perry to co-head coach for the Mustangs, beginning the Perry era.
Coming off of a seventh-place finish at the 2010 NCAA Championships, Boris Novachkov has continued to dominate his opponents on his way to a 27-1 record going into the NCAA Championships. The junior 141-pounder won the Pac-10 Championship, his second in a row, allowing only one point against him over three matches. His triumph solidified his position at nationals and he will be one of the favorites to take home the title.
UC Davis transfer Barrett Abel continued his season of solid work by earning third place and an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. Abel overcame the challenges associated with transferring schools in his final season to earn a 27-8 regular season record.
Ryan DesRoches surpassed the 30-win mark for the second consecutive year on his way to a top seed in the Pac-10 tournament. DesRoches faltered at the conference tournament, losing to Adam Hall of Boise State, but managed to recover for a third place finish.
The highlight of the team’s season came on Jan. 14 in its victory over the Wyoming Cowboys. In a back-and-forth match, the dual hung in the balance when 197-pounder Ryan Smith took the mat in the final matchup.
The junior captain took on L.J. Helbig in a rematch and Smith battled out to an early lead holding on for a 10-8 win.
The team then headed up North to take on Oregon State and snapped a 0-18 streak against the Beavers on the back of Filip Novachkov. The senior scored two-points on a takedown in the waning seconds against Garrett Drucker to give the Mustangs back-to-back upsets.
Filip Novachkov had an year full of up and downs, but has finally hit a groove after jumping two weight classes and 25 pounds to compete at 149-pounds. Going into the Pac-10 Championships he remained undefeated over eight matches at his new weight class. Only losing once in the conference championships, earning third place, has put him in position to return to nationals.
The final verdict comes down March 9.
The Mustangs look to rebound from their No. 6 finish at the Pac-10 Championships with a better performance at the March 17 to March 19 national championships.