Cal Poly Wrestling took down San Francisco State 29-15 in their first dual of the season Saturday, Nov. 16. Held at the Richard O’Neill Green on Cal Poly’s campus, the Mustangs took advantage of the home-team support.
Sophomore Benny Martinez clenched a victory at 125 pounds against his opponent in the second period to secure crucial points for Cal Poly.
“It was shocking at first,” Martinez said. “It is overwhelming being in front of a home crowd like that. Coming from a school where wrestling was non-existent to performing at a division one level in front of 2,000 people is a big jump.”
Head coach Jon Soiredas said he was happy to start off the season with a win, but noted the jitters that came with the opening match. Cal Poly’s wrestling team is the youngest in America, which Soiredas cited as both a weakness and a strength.
“The youthfulness is exciting,” Soiredas said. “We don’t know what our ceiling is. We spend a tremendous amount of time individually with technique workouts and video study. We just get to continue to progress.”
One of the two seniors on the team, Tom Lane, excels as a team leader, Soiredas said. His list of accolades is vast: top 12 at last year’s NCAA tournament, ranking at number eight in the national polls this week, and wrestling for a crowd of 16,000 at prime time on ESPN. Despite all of this, Lane prefers to focus on his game.
“I don’t look much into that, honestly, but it’s cool,” Lane said. “I think I’m the same person that I was a couple of years ago, but it’s cool seeing all that hard work I’ve put in is worth it and I’m getting the respect I deserve.”
With a decisive victory to kick off their fist dual, Soiredas already has his focus set on their next match.
“I think it was a good start,” Soiredas said. “It was a really cool atmosphere and I think our guys enjoyed it. It’s nice to get the first one out of the way. Now we just have to, moving forward, learn from our mistakes, correct our deficiencies and take that next step forward.”
The Mustangs will take on Buffalo in their next match Saturday, Nov. 23 inside Mott Athletics Center.
Soiredas said his team is ready for the challenge ahead.
“This Saturday is going to be a big one for us,” Soiredas said. “Buffalo is a tough team. It’s going to be a real good test for our young team.”