Wrestling with success

Sarah Jane O'Keefe -- CBU wrestlers practiced hard and put in strong performances on the mat all season long.The California Baptist University wrestling team is the definition of domination this season.

Starting the season off in the right way, the Lancers had six placers at the Roadrunner Open, ten placers at the Central Baptist Invite, and four champions at the Melo Invite, all within two weeks.

Strong contributors to those events were: Jimmy Martinez, Alex Annunciation, Dylan Cataline, Bradford Gerl, Zach Merrill and Chris Santana, who placed in all three events.

After the Grand Canyon Duals (II) and the Embry-Riddle Duals, the Lancers were 5-4 as a team. With a split record in the Arizona tournaments that followed, the team had a common challenge to overcome.

“Having a new coaching staff was a tough one, it was just something new that was new to me,” Landon Saldana, senior, said.

The new coaches include Lennie Zalesky and Arsen Aleksanyan. Zalesky came to CBU with a lot of experience in collegiate wrestling after spending nine seasons at UC Davis .

This is Aleksanyan’s first year as a collegiate coach. Aleksanyan spent five years of prep coaching at Calvary Chapel-Santa Ana.

Once the team headed into the last part of seasonal matches they were on a roll. Claiming six placers during the Embry-Riddle open, they followed with two team wins against Embry-Riddle and San Francisco State.

“Embry Riddle Aeronautical University was my favorite tournament because my brother wrestles for them,” Saldana said.

The team had four placers at California Collegiate Open and eight champions at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association West Coast Championships.

CBU’s Dylan Cataline won the 149-pound weight class and came away with the tournament’s most valuable wrestler award.

CBU’s season ended with the NCWA National Championships in Daytona Beach, FL.

Jimmy Martinez and Zach Merrill won national championships in the 125 and 285-pound weight classes, they also became two of CBU’s six All-Americans.

The other four All-Americans were freshman Alex Annunciation, sophomore Dylan Cataline, senior Preston Brown, and freshman Bradford Gerl.

“It is a great accomplishment but I think the sky is the limit with this coaching staff and this team. I think this year was just the tip of the iceberg so I’m just looking forward to seeing what the future holds for CBU wrestling,” Saldana said.

CBU took second-place overall at the NCWA national championships.

About Aarika Hernandez

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