sheila sobchik

Despite missing three of its starters, the Cal Poly men’s wrestling team remains 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Pac-10 after the 26-15 win against the University of Oregon and its 27-9 loss to Oregon State at the dual meet Wednesday night.

Cal Poly showed a strong performance in the first half of the night with its victory over Oregon. Junior Matt Monteiro (197) and sophomore David Roberts (149) both recorded commanding victories over their opponents. Monteiro defeated Tony Rohlen 16-1 by technical fall at 4:15 and Roberts captured an overtime victory against Skyler Woods.

Mustang senior Ryan Halsey (184), ranked No. 2 in the Pac-10, faced No. 1 ranked Shane Webster in one of the most anticipated matches of the night. Halsey, who was still recovering from recent matches against Iowa State and Nebraska, fell 14-5 to Webster and is now 6-2 this year.

“My body is still hurting coming off one of the most difficult tournaments in the country,” Halsey said, referring to the Mustangs’ trip to the Midwest where they wrestled Nebraska and Iowa State on back-to-back nights.

The Mustangs lost momentum against Oregon State in the second half of the meet as Monteiro lost his commanding 10-1 lead and eventually the match against Oregon State’s Travis Gardner. Monteiro injured his leg and was unable to finish the match.

Though the injury cost Monteiro the match, the injury should not cost him the season.

“Matt (Monteiro) should be back in 3 to 6 weeks and his knee injury doesn’t look to be too serious,” coach John Azevedo said.

Senior Jeff Owens (149) and Halsey easily defeated their Oregon State opponents, but their strong performances couldn’t overcome the absence of three starters. Darrell Vasquez (133) was also unavailable, and still recovering from an injury sustained in his match against Nebraska on Dec. 17.

“We were not as fired up as usual; the three missing starters hurt us not only with the lack of wrestling but with the lack of emotion,” Owens said.

Azevedo said Vasquez will return to action Saturday when the Mustangs host Purdue and Boise State.

Last season, the team was plagued with injuries that sidelined key teammates like Vasquez for most of the season.

“The team started training too hard too fast and this year we are letting them progress at their own rate, but still pushing them enough to excel,” Azevedo said.

This year the team is looking to stay healthy and continue winning.

“We’ve been filling in the gaps from last year with transfers coming in and players from last year stepping up,” Owens said.

The Mustangs’ early-season victory over the always-strong University of Nebraska and their narrow loss to Iowa State has given the team confidence for the upcoming season.

“We’re looking strong this year, the win in Nebraska was big. Each player’s win helped others feed off it to become stronger,” Owens said.

This newfound confidence has helped the team stay positive even though the loss of three starters can be devastating.

“Not all of our starting line up was here (against Oregon State) and we faired well against two good teams,” Halsey said. “Losing three starters is like losing a quarterback and a wide receiver. It’s big.”

The team faces a difficult schedule this year but has set its goals high despite facing powerhouse teams like ASU and Boise State.

The Mustangs have a pair of home matches on Saturday, taking on Purdue at 5 p.m. and Boise State in a Pac-10 contest at 7 p.m.

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