LAS VEGAS – California Baptist University was looking for a challenge when it booked its fifth trip to the Cliff Keen Open.
Each of the respective 157 and 184-pounders went 2-2 and advanced to the consolation quarterfinals of their brackets, but missed moving on to the second day by a matter of points on Friday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“The way Caleb and Brady wrestled, they've got to be happy,” head coach Lennie Zalesky said. “They won some tough, close matches against some good schools and good kids. It's always tough to place in this tournament, it's tough enough if you're NCAA Division I.”
Bersano came up just short in his two losses, dropping each by just one point, including a 1-0 decision defeat to Navy's 10th-seeded Ryan Berg in the consolation quarterfinals. He dropped a one-point decision, 4-3, in his first match of the day against Ohio State’s Randall Lanquis.
“It is tough seeing that, but we'll go back and we have something to work on,” Zalesky said of Bersano's losses. “Hopefully at the end of the year when it really counts, we'll be winning by one.”
Bersano rebounded with an impressive 7-2 win over Citadel’s Aaron Walker to keep going. Then in order to advance to the nightcap of the tournament’s first day, Bersano needed a nail-biting victory of his own.
The 157-pounder battled with Virginia Tech’s Chad Strube to a tie at seven points apiece as time ran out in the third period, but the riding time Bersano had built up in the match gave him the one point he needed for the 8-7 victory.
Caleb Gerl drew Tanner Weatherman of Iowa State, the eighth seed in the 184 division, and dropped the decision, 8-1. Undeterred, he responded with a pair of wins by a total of five points. The first was a 5-2 victory over Virginia’s James Suvak and the next came against 10thseeded Blake Stauffer of Arizona State, 5-3.
The senior 184 grappler fought valiantly in his final match of the tournament against Army's Ryan Tompkins, but found himself in a 5-0 hole at the end of the first that proved too much to overcome in a 6-0 loss.
A total of nine CBU wrestlers appeared in the prestigious Cliff Keen Open, which played host to 11 of the top-25 ranked squads in NCAA Division I. In what is no doubt CBU's toughest outing of the season, four Lancers walked away with victories.
CBU went 6-18 as a group in the first day of competition and finished 31st out of the 33-team event, with five points, going into day two.
"It's good for them to have this experience because now they won't be afraid of strong Division II competition," Zalesky said.
Bryden Lazaro and Bradford Gerl were each dealt tough draws in the 125 and 141 tournaments, respectively. Both won their first-round bouts and then faced the top seeds in their weight class, which accounted for one of their two losses.
“I thought Bryden and Bradford did pretty well,” Zalesky said. “We just drew a lot of good kids.”
Lazaro opened the day with a major-decision win over Utah Valley University’s Braken Nipko, 13-4, and then faced the bracket’s top-seed in the first of his two losses.
Bradford Gerl was responsible for perhaps CBU’s most dramatic win of the day, as it came in overtime against Colorado State University’s Chad Vandiver. The junior was the first to score in the extra frame, with a pretty reversal, to secure the Lancers’ second win of the tournament.
The Lancers return home to host their first dual of the year on Monday, Dec. 16, taking on Division I Cal Poly at 6 p.m.
125 – Bryden Lazaro - 1-2
133 – Craig Seidenglanz - 0-2
141 – Bradford Gerl - 1-2
149 – Paul Miller - 0-2
157 – Brady Bersano - 2-2
165 – Daniel Urban - 0-2
174 – David Irish - 0-2
184 – Caleb Gerl - 2-2
197 – Paul Yoo - 0-2