The Cal Poly wrestling team put a bad loss to Stanford behind them on Sunday afternoon and won the last nine matches against Division II San Francisco State in its final tuneup before the Pac-10 Championships. The Mustangs recorded four pins and a technical fall, routing the Gators 43-3 and ending the season with a 9-2 record in duals.
On senior night, Barrett Abel kicked off a slew of Mustang pins with a takedown that ended with Joshua Nolan on his back just 51 seconds into the match.
“It was slick,” Abel said. “It was nice to have the team win the way it did today. That made everything a lot more positive.”
The former UC Davis Aggie enjoyed the home-crowd hospitality in his final dual meet, but his focus is squarely on the Pac-10 Championships.
After Abel, Ryan DesRoches worked out to a 10-1 advantage moments into the second period, then cradled Isaiah Jimenez for back-to-back pins. DesRoches’ victory was his 30th on the year, making it two consecutive years with 30-plus victories for DesRoches.
Boris Novachkov earned a 4-0 decision at 141-pounds. His opponent, Naveed Baheri, is ranked second in Division II, however, much of the match was spent hand-fighting with relatively little action.
The two wrestled in the same league in high school and the familiarity contributed to the low score.
Abel, DesRoches and Boris have all but assured that they will be making a trip to Philadelphia for the NCAA Championships in March, but winning a Pac-10 championship is first and foremost right now.
“I want to win Pac-10’s and it’s not going to be an easy thing to do,” Abel said. “I’m 100 percent focused on that and not nationals.”
Filip Novachkov has gained 26 pounds in the last couple weeks as he gears up for a Pac-10 title run at 149-pounds after giving up on wrestling at 133-pounds, which he did for most of the season.
“I feel that I’m wrestling and competing the whole time and that’s what I want to do,” Filip Novachkov said. “I’ve just got to put on a few more pounds, but I’m working on it and I’ll come back strong for the (Pac-10 Championships).”
The move has appeared to pay off as he is 8-0 at his new weight after he added a technical fall on Sunday against Dylan Phillipy. He earned his last three points on a near fall to seal match by putting Phillipy in a backbreaking move, bringing his foot backwards toward his head.
Ryan Smith wrestled his way to the Pac-10 finals, lost his chance at a title and was forced to wrestle the third place finisher in a “true-second” match last year. He worked out to a 5-0 lead, then saw it vanish in a matter of seconds.
The back-to-back losses came back to haunt Smith as he was denied an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.
He dominated his final tuneup match, recording six takedowns en route to a pin via a cradle in the third period.
“It was, not even a confidence builder at this point in the season, just a nice way to say farewell to the seniors,” Smith said. “They’ve been putting in all this hard work and you don’t want to lose on your senior night against a good team.”
The victory over San Francisco State was also co-head coach John Azevedo’s final coaching appearance in Mott Gym. He will retire at season’s end, but he looks to continue his eight-year streak of catapulting a wrestler to a Pac-10 Championship and All-American status.
He has yet to win a team title or have an individual win an NCAA championship during his time at Cal Poly.
The Pac-10 Championships take place in Corvallis, Ore. on Feb. 27 as the Mustangs are looking to take about half the team to the NCAA Championships two weeks later.