Senior Britain Longmire won his match by decision in Cal Poly’s wrestling meet against Oregon State held in the UU Plaza.
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The first-ever wrestling match held outdoors at Cal Poly ended in a tightly contested 22-12 loss to Pac-12 dual opponent Oregon State.
The unique setting in the University Union Plaza on Thursday failed to bring Cal Poly a victory, but the event was a success, according to head coach Brendan Buckley.
“I thought it was great,” he said. “It was really good to see the crowd. I hope it leads to further involvement from the Cal Poly student community. It was a cool event.”
Buckley wanted to draw attention to the wrestling program by moving the meet to the middle of campus, he said.
Despite the loss, the team was happy they were able to compete. In the middle of a record-breaking drought, rain began to fall early in the day. Junior Dominic Kastl said he couldn’t believe the first rainy day of the month was the day the Mustangs would hold their first-ever outdoor wrestling match.
“I looked outside at the weather, and I was a little scared,” Kastl said. “I got a text this morning saying, ‘We might not be able to do it outside,’ and immediately your heart kind of drops. The one day. We’ve been looking forward to this all year. But the weather broke through and it was a fun day.”
Kastl, who is ranked No. 19 in the nation at 174 pounds, defeated No. 24 Joe Latham 4-3 after three periods. As one of the Cal Poly’s team captains, Kastl looked to gain bonus points through a major decision, even up against a nationally ranked competitor.
“The kid’s tough,” Kastl said. “I wanted to beat him by more. Other guys that I’ve beat have beat him by more. But I was kind of hanging on at the end, so basically I was trying to win the match instead of trying to dominate.”
Kastl seems to be close to full strength after a near career-ending injury last season, but his brother and Cal Poly co-captain, freshman Blake Kastl, watched from the sidelines during Thursday’s match due to a knee injury.
In Wednesday night’s practice session, Blake faced off against teammate Kyle Chene to decide the contestant in the Mustangs’ dual with Oregon State’s Scott Sakaguchi on Thursday. During the scrimmage, Blake’s knee was injured after a takedown attempt by Chene, which left him unable to participate in the long-awaited outdoor meet.
Blake’s absence left him with a distraught facial expression, sitting far from the team with the rest of the Cal Poly supporters, and the entire team’s performance was affected, according to Dominic.
“It was hard,” Domininc said. “Normally, we’re both preparing for a match, but instead I’m just preparing. So I was really bummed. It was really hard to prepare for this match.”
Blake’s absence led to an opportunity for the senior Chene who faced off against the All-American Sakaguchi. The match was one of the most heated contests of the day, but it ended in a loss for Chene as he was unable to capitalize on a takedown in the final period.
Although Cal Poly was defeated, some bright spots shined through for the Mustangs.
Sophomore Devon Lotito blanked his opposition with a 5-0 win over Drew Van Anrooy.
“I feel like I wrestled pretty well,” Lotito said. “He was strong. I think he was a little slower than I was, so I tried to use that to my advantage.”
Lotito’s domination in his dual exhibited the bright future of the Cal Poly wrestling program.
Six of Cal Poly’s 10 competitors against Oregon State were either sophomores or freshmen.
The Mustangs now own a record of 3-6 heading into the California Collegiate Open, which takes place Saturday in San Francisco.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” Lotito said. “We’re going to keep getting better. A year or two from now we’re going to be the nationally ranked team out here and having this match as our annual thing.”