RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Confidence has been building for California Baptist University in recent weeks and the good times kept rolling in Van Dyne Gym Friday night during a home dual with Menlo College.
Coming off two wins over NCAA Division I opponents, the Lancers mixed things up with the Oaks out of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and cruised to a 44-9 victory. All of CBU’s individual wins came in staggering forms, as it produced three pins, two technical-fall victories and a major-decision win.
“The guys have been pretty consistent with the way the wrestle,” head coach Lennie Zalesky said. “The lightweights all the way up to 157 and 165 have been wrestling tough all year.”
It was blistering pace set by the Lancers, who won the first six matches to secure the dual victory heading into the 174-pound match with a 32-0 lead. CBU will hope to move up on its No. 17 ranking in NCAA Division II by the Division II Wrestling Coaches Association after improving to an 8-1 dual record. Menlo came into the dual ranked 18th in the NAIA and drops to 1-4 in dual competition.
One of the keys to the Lancers’ eight-dual winning streak has been they’re getting healthier, Zalesky said.
Bryden Lazaro, who is ranked seventh in his weight class individually, helped set the tone for CBU Friday night. The 125-pounder pinned Menlo’s Troy Lakin less than a minute into the second period. Taylor Hall made it back-to-back falls for the Lancers just over two minutes into the 133 bout.
While CBU’s Bradford Gerl did not get the pin at 141, he got the next best thing – a technical fall, 15-0. Gerl got the 15th point and the win with a three-point near fall – his third of the bout – just as the first period came to a close.
The next match at 149 was the first to go through all three periods, but CBU still prevailed easily with a 14-3, major decision from Anunciation.
Brady Bersano, who is ranked fifth at 157, continued the Lancers' dominance when he pinned David Rios 30 seconds into the second period. Smith capped CBU’s hot start with another 15-0 tech fall victory over Christian Franks at 165.
After a 12-5 win from Eric Lopez, Menlo College’s top-ranked wrestler at 174 by the NAIA, the dual came to a quick ending. Caleb Gerl picked up a disqualification victory at 184, while the last two matches ended with forfeits.
It was the first time CBU was not forced to forfeit the heavyweight bout in four duals, though, after Jacob Mitchell joined the squad Friday. While the Lancer faithful did not get to see the 285-pounder in action, after CBU chose not to have him compete, Zalesky promises it will be good.
“He is going to be exciting to watch, we just have to get him in shape a bit,” Zalesky said.
Mitchell joined the team after spending some time at the Olympic Training Center. He also won the National Junior College Athletic Association 285-pound championship in 2013.
“When you look at the list of guys he’s beat, it’s some of the best in the nation,” Zalesky said.
CBU will look to keep on rolling when it opens up competition in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference at the UNK Midwest Duals January 18. The Lancers will face Western State at 9 a.m., Adams State at 11:30 a.m., Central Oklahoma at 2 p.m. and Fort Hays State at 5 p.m. to conclude the trip.