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Calendar >  Quartet of Cal Poly Wrestlers to Compete in NCAA Championships

Quartet of Cal Poly Wrestlers to Compete in NCAA Championships

By   /  March 13, 2023  /  No Comments

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San Luis Obispo, CA. — Cal Poly’s quartet of national qualifiers for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships includes a two-time All-American, a two-time national qualifier and a pair of wrestlers making their first trip to the nationals.

Bernie Truax, a redshirt junior with one year of eligibility remaining, has earned a pair of fourth-place national finishes and will be making his fourth trip to the nationals. Actually, it will be his third as the 2020 NCAAs were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Truax is competing in his sixth weight class at Cal Poly. He had matches at 149 and 157 pounds during his redshirt year in the 2018-19 season and competed at 165 as a redshirt freshman, 174 as a sophomore and 184 as a junior, earning Pac-12 titles at 174 in 2021 and at 197 two weeks ago.

Making his second trip to the nationals is 125-pounder Antonio Lorenzo, who faced a pair of nationally ranked wrestlers in last year’s NCAA finals after a fifth-place Pac-12 finish and earning an at-large berth.

Mustang 133-pounder Ethan Rotondo and heavyweight Trevor Tinker both are headed to the nationals for the first time. Tinker placed second in the Pac-12 finals at 285 and earned an at-large berth in the nationals while Rotondo finished third at 133 and is an automatic qualifier along with Truax and Lorenzo.

Truax, 13-1 this season and 77-26 in his Cal Poly career with 13 falls, is seeded second at 197 and will face Austin Cooley (17-9) of West Virginia in the opening round Thursday morning at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. Truax’s lone loss this season was to sixth-seeded Isaac Trumble of North Carolina State.

Max Dean of Penn State claimed the 2022 title at 197 but is seeded ninth this year. Dean is 20-3 on the year and 100-16 in his collegiate career. The top seed is Nino Bonaccorsi of Pitt, a five-time national qualifier who is 16-0 this year, 114-15 in his career and runner-up at 197 in 2021.

Lorenzo, 8-8 for the season and 49-29 with 12 falls as a Mustang, meets third-seeded Liam Cronin (20-4) of Nebraska in Thursday’s opening round. Lorenzo is a redshirt sophomore with two years of eligibility remaining.

Rotondo transferred to Cal Poly from Wisconsin to work on his master’s degree in packaging value chain after graduating from Wisconsin with a bachelor’s degree in life science communication. The graduate student in his final year of eligibility was 61-38 for the Badgers and 12-12 as a Mustang.

Rotondo, who has won seven of his last eight matches, takes on Daton Fix (26-0) of Oklahoma State in the opening round Thursday. Fix is the No. 2 seed at 133.

Tinker, winner of seven consecutive matches prior to losing to Cohlton Schultz of Arizona State in the Pac-12 finals, takes a 15-8 record to the nationals and is 25-18 with 12 falls in his Cal Poly career.

A redshirt freshman with three years of eligibility remaining, Tinker faces second-seeded Wyatt Hendrickson (26-1) of Air Force in the first round Thursday.

A year ago, with five national qualifiers, the most for the program in 12 years, Cal Poly placed 22nd in the NCAAs, the Mustangs’ highest finish since 2010. Cal Poly is ranked No. 25 by InterMat this week and ninth in the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s Mid-Major Poll.

The Mustangs compiled an 8-6 dual meet record, their second straight season with a winning record, and a perfect 5-0 for the Pac-12 dual meet title. Cal Poly finished third in the Pac-12 Championships, just 11.5 points behind champion Oregon State and 1.5 points shy of runner-up Stanford.

In addition to Dean, there are eight other returning NCAA champions in this year’s field, including three in one weight class. That would be at 165 pounds with Shane Griffith of Stanford (first at 165 in 2021), David Carr of Iowa State (first at 157 in 2021) and Keegan O’Toole of Missouri (first at 165 in 2022).

Other defending NCAA champions are Spencer Lee of Iowa, a three-time national champion at 125 and 95-5 in his collegiate career; Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State, a two-time national champion at 133 and 96-9 in his career; Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell, a three-time national champion at 149 and 110-2 in his career; and Aaron Brooks of Penn State, who claimed NCAA titles at 184 in both 2021 and 2022 and is 62-3 in his Nittany Lion career.

Penn State claimed the team title in 2022 and is ranked No. 1 by InterMat this week. The Nittany Lions also captured NCAA championships four straight years from 2016-19.

Pigtail and first-round matches involving all 330 competitors — 33 in each of the 10 weight classes — begin Thursday at 9 a.m. Pacific, followed by the second round in the championship bracket and pigtail and first-round wrestleback matches Thursday night at 4 p.m.

On Friday, the quarterfinal round in the championship bracket and two more rounds of wrestlebacks begin at 9 a.m. Semifinals and two more wrestleback rounds are slated for Friday at 5 p.m.

Wrestleback semifinals and matches for third, fifth and seven places begin Saturday at 8 a.m., with the championship finals at 4 p.m.

All matches in the morning rounds each day will be on ESPNU while the afternoon/evening matches, including Saturday’s championship finals, are set for broadcast on ESPN. Every match in the three-day event will be streamed on ESPN+ as well.

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