The Cal Poly wrestling team will take on No. 24 Oregon State in the program’s first-ever outdoor meet on Thursday.
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Cal Poly’s first-ever outdoor wrestling meet will take place Thursday at 3 p.m. when the Mustangs host No. 24 Oregon State in the University Union Plaza.
It will be the first time most Cal Poly wrestlers have competed in an organized meet outside of the gym, which has the Mustangs eager for Thursday’s competition.
“It’s going to be new to both teams,” head coach Brendan Buckley said. “It’s pretty rare across the board. It has almost never happened. I know our boys are going to be excited to wrestle in the middle of campus.”
The wrestling team is seeking to gain more recognition throughout the Cal Poly community, and with the Central Coast sun overhead and the event at the hub of campus, Buckley expects a nice turnout.
“It means a lot to be able to market it on our own campus,” he said. “Everyone wants to be able to have their student body come to their competition. I feel like a lot of people just aren’t as aware of our program as we would like them to be, so this is a great way to accomplish that goal.”
The Mustangs have dropped four of their last five matches, but the team feels they are gaining camaraderie because of an overall improvement in leadership, Buckley said.
Cal Poly is led by captains Dominic Kastl, Blake Kastl and Kyle Chene.
Junior Dominic Kastl is a Pac-12 champion and is now ranked No. 19 in the NCAA coaches poll within the 174-pound weight class and is 14-3 on the year.
Dominic missed all of last year due to a lower back injury many doctors said would end his wrestling career, but he was driven to defy the odds.
“I just went to another doctor until I found someone that was willing to work with me,” Dominic said. “I never accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to wrestle. I mean, it’s been a part of my life, so when someone tells you that, it just goes in one ear and out the other.”
The Gilroy, Calif. native has had an impressive start to the season, dropping just one match in the last 11, and has gone undefeated in dual matches (6-0).
Dominic will face Oregon State’s All-American Joe Latham (22-11) to compose the strongest bout of Thursday’s match.
However, Dominic isn’t Cal Poly’s leader in wins. His younger brother, Blake, a redshirt freshman weighing in at a 149 pounds, leads the Mustangs with a record of 18-8. Blake attributes much of his success to the reinforcement Dominic has provided him.
“He never lets me live down a moment,” Blake said. “I’ll do poorly in a match and he’ll come over and support me. He’ll get me through a loss, or get me through a victory to keep me on track. He really does push me to excel because I really want to stay at the same level as him.”
Blake is currently ranked No. 31 in the NCAA coaches poll, and will take on one of the Oregon State’s strongest competitors in No. 12 Scott Sakaguchi. Blake lost to Sakaguchi in their first meeting.
Oregon State has seen success within its wrestling program, as the Beavers have amassed 49 total conference championships and 89 total All-Americans since it was established in 1909. The Beavers will be one Cal Poly’s strongest opponents this season, Dominic said.
“It’s going to be close,” Dominic said. “Each match is going to be a battle. All their guys are really tough. They like to brawl and have a ‘get-in-your-face’ kind of style. We’re going to be ready for it.”
Cal Poly has not beaten the Beavers since the 2010-11 season, but the Mustangs hope the outdoor venue can spur the team to victory, Buckley said.
“A win against Oregon State outdoors would be a great catalyst for change,” he said. “It’s an exciting, unique event.”
The Cal Poly wrestling team will be part of history on Thursday, and Blake and the rest of the Mustangs are prepared to stake a claim in the Pac-12.
“It’s just expecting craziness,” Blake said. “I don’t really know what to expect because this never happens, so I’m just excited. It’s going to be a big match.”