Two Cal Poly wrestlers earned automatic bids to the NCAA championships after strong showings at the Pac-12 Conference Tournament Sunday.
Senior Colton Schilling qualified by winning the Pac-12 conference title at 141 pounds, the first conference champion for the Mustangs since 2013. This is the second consecutive season that Schilling will compete in the national championships.
Sophomore Tom Lane also qualified at 197 pounds with a fourth-place finish.
Junior Joshy Cortez and sophomore Matt Wilhelm finished as runner-ups in their respective weight classes. Though only one wrestler in those two weight classes earned automatic berths, Cortez and Wilhelm will still be considered when the 47 remaining at-large spots are selected March 6.
Schilling, who had a bye in the conference tournament, won two matches against Oregon State’s Jack Hathaway and Cal State Bakersfield’s Russell Rohlfing to clinch the title. Schilling pinned Rohlfing in a previous meet in January and won the title match with a 15-6 major decision.
Lane first faced Arizona State’s Cade Belshay in a rematch from the team’s previous meet in which Lane won a 6-5 overtime decision in San Luis Obispo. Lane was once again victorious in an 11-0 major decision to put him into the semifinals for the 197-pound weight class. He then dropped his final two matches to finish fourth. Luckily for Lane, the top four finishers earned automatic bids to nationals.
Senior Spencer Empey was one win away from earning a bid. After advancing to the semifinals of the 285-pound weight class on an injury default, Empey was pinned in his final two matches to finish fourth. Only the top three finishers earned automatic bids for his weight class.
All other Cal Poly wrestlers were winless in the tournament.
Despite the strong individual performances from several Mustangs, Cal Poly finished in last place out of five teams. Arizona State defended their team title with ease, scoring 26 more points than runner-up Oregon State.
The NCAA championships begin March 15 in Cleveland, Ohio.