The Cal Poly wrestling team entered the season ranked in the top 20 of most major polls and has only solidified its position as one of the best teams in the nation during the first weeks.
The team competes in the Pac-10 in wrestling, creating conference dual meets with national implications. One such match takes place on Jan. 23 in Boise, Idaho against Boise State.
The Mustangs took third place as a team in the Pac-10 championships in 2010, only behind champion Oregon State and Boise State.
This year’s Boise State match will pose an even more difficult challenge because just two days before, the team will have squared off against the Beavers.
Only Boris Novachkov captured an individual Pac-10 title for the Mustangs but Barrett Abel, who recently transferred to Cal Poly, won a championship for UC Davis as well. Coincidentally, he defeated Cal Poly wrestler Nick Fisher to take first.
The Cal Poly wrestling team has never won a Pac-10 championship, falling just short in 2004 and 2006 by taking second place.
This season the Broncos trail only Cornell in major polls, but will face a test in the Mustangs.
The premier matchup appears to be in the 133-pound weight class as Andrew Hochstrasser of Boise State will clash with Filip Novachkov. The bout will be a preview of a probable Pac-10 championship match pitting two seniors against each other.
Boris Novachkov, a returning All-American, is currently ranked ninth in the nation and will face Levi Jones in the 141-pound class against. Jones lost to the eventual champion in the NCAA tournament last year while Novachkov earned seventh place.
Abel, a senior transfer from UC Davis, finds himself in position to contend for a Pac-10 championship, but an upset victory over Adam Hall at 157-pounds could swing the match in the Mustangs favor. It only took Abel 11 seconds to pin an opponent at the Fullerton Invitational on his way to a championship in which he went 5-0 with four pins.
Kirk Smith of Boise State is the only wrestler on either squad to boast a top ranking after placing second at the NCAA tournament in 2010, but Kelan Bragg, a junior from Tustin, Calif., has the chance to post the upset of the night, if not the year. In any case, denying Smith a pin or technical fall (a win by 15 points) will take away team points from the Broncos and keep the match close.
The Mustang’s other transfer, Atticus Disney, closes out the match at heavyweight. He pinned Cal State Fullerton’s Kurt Klimek, who was ranked 18th, in the first period and has moved up the rankings by going undefeated in five matches.
A good test before the Boise State match will occur in Mott Gym on Jan. 14 as the Mustangs will host a dual meet against Wyoming, which may be the best opponent to visit Cal Poly this season.