Harry Chang [follow id = “harrychangmn”]
The Cal Poly wrestling team (0-3) is still searching for its first win of the season after falling 30-9 to Purdue (1-0) on Friday night in Mott Athletics Center.
The Boilermakers, who have brought a contingent of talented wrestlers on their West Coast swing, boast an experienced roster that includes No. 10-ranked senior Braden Atwood as well as three other former NCAA national qualifiers.
“They’re a Big Ten team; we knew these guys were gonna wrestle us,” Cal Poly assistant coach Scotti Sentes said. “But I thought the fight all around was there from us, mostly from our starters that we regularly have out there. They were in the battle, forcing a lot of one-point matches. There’s just some things we have to take from tonight to work on, but I thought all together we were fighting a lot harder this week.”
The Mustangs were at an early disadvantage in their third dual meet of the year after having to forfeit the 154-pound match with freshman Jason Delacruz scratched from his bout.
“We did show a lot of fight,” head coach Brendan Buckley said. “It was hard forfeiting a weight, but we were in every other battle. There was no fight where we weren’t in it and when you have a young team, that’s what we’re reinforcing: 100 percent effort and just getting after it, trying to score a lot of points, and I think our guys demonstrated that.”
Notable matches in the meet included an exciting opening win by freshman Yoshito Funakoshi in the 125 matchup, No. 17-ranked senior Dominic Kastl’s dominant win in the 174 and freshman Nick Fiegener’s hard-fought battle at 184.
After being down 5-1 at one point in his match, Funakoshi capped a strong comeback in the first match of the night with an escape in the third period that forced overtime.
In overtime, Funakoshi won 6-5 on a technical violation by Purdue freshman Aaron Assad, improving his record on the year.
“That was huge,” Sentes said. “He’s been right in every match no matter who he wrestles. I think for him to figure out a way to get that victory is going to help catapult him going into the Roadrunner Open, where we expect big things. He can hang there with everyone.”
In the 174 match, Kastl turned in the most impressive performance on the night for the Mustangs, getting the decision 5-1 over junior Chad Welch.
“We knew they were Big Ten guys,” Kastl said of his strategy. “We knew they were going to come out and fight, just brawl with us, and kind of get heavy on our head. My strategy was to fight back. Just grab him first, shake him around and wrestle my style. Try and be fast, try and get low and not let him get me out of my style.”
“His other two wins (this year) were pretty close,” Sentes said of Kastl. “This one was again but against a higher-quality opponent that was an NCAA qualifier. (Dominic) qualified his freshman year, now he’s a senior, and he hasn’t qualified since, so I think for him to go out and figure out an NCAA qualifier like he did tonight is going to be huge for him going forward.”
In the following 184 match, Fiegener turned in an impressive performance in a tough 12-10 loss to senior Patrick Kissel. Fiegener, who was up 10-8 at one point against the Purdue senior, capped a strong showing for the young Mustang squad.
“It was great for Nick to see that he could compete at this level,” Buckley said. “He’s incredibly athletic, strong as an ox and he’s got a ton of potential. I’m really happy with the way our freshmen are conducting themselves, you know, how they’re training, how they’re competing. It’s starting to show.”
The win gives Purdue a 4-1 lead in the head-to-head series between the two schools, which began in 1997. Both teams travel to Fresno on Sunday for the Roadrunner Open hosted by Cal State Bakersfield. The event will be held in Fresno’s Selland Arena.