As Cal Poly wrestling wraps up its final off-season preparations, the 2022-23 squad will look to build off last year in what could be one of the best teams the program has ever had.
“If we can keep them [the team] healthy and keep them happy, I think we’re going to take another step in the right direction,” seventh-year head coach Jon Sioredas said.
In 2021, Cal Poly climbed into the top 10 in nationwide rankings with six individuals nationally ranked for the first time in nearly 40 years.
This year’s squad is ranked No. 25 for tournaments and No. 28 for duals and features two returning All-Americans and five national qualifiers, highlighted by redshirt junior Bernie Truax.
“I think we’ve put together a nice lineup,” Sioredas said. “This will be the first time since I’ve been here that we have a legitimate impact player at all 10 weight classes.”
Truax is a two-time All-American who has placed fourth at the National Championships in both the 174-pound class (2020-21) and the 184-pound class (2021-22). This season, Truax will move up weight divisions once again, landing in the 197-pound class, where he is currently ranked No. 5 in the country and No. 1 in the Pac-12, according to InterMat.
Alongside Truax is redshirt junior Adam Kemp who is making the move from 174 pounds to 184 this season and is currently ranked No. 19. Last year, Kemp finished second in the Pac-12 to qualify for the NCAA tournament after compiling a 15-6 record.
Redshirt sophomore Legend Lamer will jump up two weight classes and compete at 165 this season. The two-time national qualifier is the 24th-ranked wrestler in the weight class and has gathered a 40-15 overall record during his Mustang career.
Rounding out the returning national qualifiers from last season is redshirt sophomore Antonio Lorenzo, who remains at 125 pounds. Lorenzo is currently ranked No. 31 nationally after placing fifth in the Pac-12 a year ago.
Rotondo joins the Mustangs after wrestling at the University of Wisconsin for the last five seasons. While with the Badgers, he compiled 61 career wins and will compete at 133 pounds for the Mustangs this year.
“[Rotondo] was in and out of the lineup at Wisconsin for five years and he had some really high success in freestyle,” Sioredas said. “He is one that we expect some really big things from.”
Demas comes to Cal Poly from the University of Oklahoma, where he wrestled for five seasons. At Oklahoma, Demas was a two-time Big 12 champion and All-American. After winning 78 of his 99 matches, he will be slotted at 149 pounds for Cal Poly and is the 13th-ranked wrestler in his class.
Saenz went 14-7 last season and finished fifth in the Pac-12; he is the 29th-ranked wrestler in his class. Wick, on the other hand, went a perfect 12-0 in his true freshman season. He is the No. 29 ranked wrestler in his class. Tinker has posted a 10-10 career record, but received high praise from Sioredas and could be an “under-the-radar” guy for the Mustangs.
“When you have a whole bunch of good guys on the team and we’re all scrapping against each other, everyone is leveling up,” Truax said. “Everyone is growing together and that’s exciting to see.”
The 174-pound lineup spot is still to be determined, but Sioredas is confident in any wrestler who is slotted into this role.
This Cal Poly roster will be tested this season, taking on five nationally-ranked opponents in duals, as well as participating in three national tournaments: Tiger Style Invitational (Kansas City), Cliff Keen Invitational (Las Vegas) and Collegiate Wrestling Duals (New Orleans).
The Mustangs will welcome four of the five nationally-ranked teams they face to Mott Athletics Center. No. 8 Minnesota (Dec. 11), No. 6 Michigan (Jan. 6), No. 20 Stanford (Feb. 17) and No. 22 Oregon State (Feb. 19) will all make the trip to San Luis Obispo this season. Cal Poly will travel to Tempe to take on No. 3 Arizona State (Jan. 21).
“For them to travel to San Luis Obispo, they obviously see value in competing against us which is great,” Sioredas said. “We feel pretty solid in our chances against them too.”
Cal Poly kicks off its season on Saturday, Nov. 5 against California Baptist at Van Dyne Gym in Riverside.
“We want our guys to wrestle to their full potential and continue to develop,” Sioredas said. “If we continue to improve we’re going to hit some pretty significant milestones that Cal Poly has not seen in a very, very long time.”
Correction, Nov. 28: Bernie Truax’s last name was previously misspelled in one instance in the article.