Cal Poly Wrestling will look to build on a season where the team received top 25 recognition. Credit: Mia Isobel-Craig / Mustang News

When Cal Poly Wrestling Head Coach Jon Sioredas joined Cal Poly in 2017, the Mustangs were without an NCAA qualifier and finished last in the conference.

But in years six and seven of his tenure, the team climbed their way to Top 25 recognition in 2022 and 2023 and have had multiple national qualifiers.

“We’ve taken some monster steps these past couple of years from a competitive standpoint and we just want to keep that train rolling,” Sioredas said.

The Mustangs are coming off of a season that ended with a conference dual meet championship but will look to find some strong newcomers to replace the wrestlers who left the program after the 2022 season.

The Mustangs started off the 2022 season 3-6 in dual meets, but the team hit their stride in conference play and went 5-0 while pulling off multiple upsets to claim the conference dual meet title.

This offseason has been a rollercoaster for Cal Poly as three-time All-American Bernie Traux transferred to Penn State for his last year of eligibility.

Three-time All-American Bernie Traux (pictured above) transferred to Penn State for his final season of eligibility, Credit: Cal Poly Athletics.

The program added redshirt sophomore Chance Lamer from Michigan, who joins his three brothers at Cal Poly: Daschle, Legend and Brawley. Daschle and Legend are current wrestlers while Brawley now serves as Director of Operations after competing for the Mustangs in 2023.

But the rollercoaster doesn’t end with personnel changes. When all but two teams departed the Pac-12 conference, Cal Poly Wrestling, an affiliate program with the Pac-12, is one of four remaining teams left in the conference after the 2023 season.

The Mustangs could find themselves in an entirely new conference following this season.

Team outlook

The team isn’t currently ranked in the top 30 in the nation but has the potential to do so with some newcomers and returners who are poised for breakouts.

After the departure of Traux and a couple of other NCAA Tournament qualifiers, the Mustangs only have one wrestler from last year’s team to make the tournament, redshirt sophomore heavyweight Trevor Tinker

Tinker is currently ranked No. 25 in the 285-pound division and No. 3 in the Pac-12 according to InterMat. He was unsuccessful in last year’s tournament after losing both of his matches but did place second in the Pac-12 tournament.

Michigan transfer Chance Lamer is the highest-ranked Mustang at eighth in the 149-pound division and second in the Pac-12 while compiling an overall record of 31-11 in his time at Michigan. He also made it as far as the Round of 12 at the NCAA championships last season and is poised to help the Mustangs make some noise.

His brother and junior Legend Lamer is ranked 26th in the 157-pound division nationally and third in the Pac-12. He’s also a two-time NCAA qualifier with a 52-26 overall record while at Cal Poly.

After five seasons with the University of North Carolina, graduate student Michael Goldfeder is expected to represent the Mustangs in the 165-pound division after posting a 12-10 overall record in his final season as a Tar Heel.

Ethan Rotondo (pictured above) graduated from Cal Poly last season and now serves as an assistant coach for the program. Credit: Cal Poly Athletics.

Redshirt senior Adam Kemp is ranked 23rd nationally in the 174-pound division after moving up to 184 a season ago. 

Redshirt sophomore Jarad Priest is moving up two weight classes and taking over the 197-pound slot after the departure of Traux, after impressing in the 174-pound class a season ago and compiling a 27-22 overall record as a Mustang.

Rounding out the roster is redshirt freshman Dom Mendez sliding in at the 125-pound division with a 9-3 overall record, redshirt freshman Zeth Romney in the 133-pound division coming in with a 7-2 record, redshirt sophomore Abe Hinrichsen moving down a weight class to 141 pounds and redshirt sophomore Kendall La Rosa is moving up a weight class to the 184-pound class. 

The Pac-12 Fiasco

This past summer, the main Pac-12 conference had all but two teams leave the conference which leaves a lot of the other remaining schools and affiliated schools in uncertainty.

There are only four teams remaining in the Pac-12 wrestling conference. According to NCAA rules, at least six teams are required to be in a conference in order to hold a conference tournament.

While the team has put together a string of outstanding seasons, the Mustangs and the rest of the Pac-12 wrestling programs have the conference realignment situation hanging overhead.

Sioredas has said there are many viable options that the program is looking into, but he doesn’t want that to distract the team from the season in front of them.

He’s even gone as far as not formally addressing the situation with the team.

“We still have this entire season in the Pac-12 so nothing changes for us,” Sioredas said. “There’s really no new information, we’ll see how it plays out moving forward.”

All the Mustangs can do now is wait and see how everything plays out with some of the other teams.

Until then, the Mustangs will look to keep outperforming expectations this season when they take on Duke and No. 14 Rutgers on Friday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. at Mott Athletics Center.