The wrestling team at California Baptist University has been preparing for this season all semester and is starting its season on a high note.
Wrestling debuted as the No. 3 ranked team in the NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches Association Top-25 preseason rankings.
Lennie Zalesky, head coach of the wrestling team, is training his wrestlers, both new and returning athletes, for a breakout season.
“Some of our athletes went home for the summer. Others stayed here for summer school and worked out,” Zalesky said. “Some of our wrestlers also went with the coaches to a meeting in Georgia.”
Zalesky added the goal for this season is to win an NCAA title.
“We took third in the NCAA Championships last year,” Zalesky said. “Everything just has to line up into place and our athletes have to stay healthy.”
Zalesky also said returners from the postseason last year came back to the mat better than ever.
“We have strong returners from the RMAC Championships, the Regional Championships and the NCAA Championships and I feel great about this season,” Zalesky said.
Nolan Kistler, senior criminal justice major, who is also ranked No. 1 individually in the same poll along with Nick Fiegener, junior business administration major, said the Lancers have escalated conditioning during the preseason.
“We have done a lot more running this year,” Kistler said. “We have morning practices and Coach Zalesky’s main focus is on the technical side of practices.”
Kistler also said his main goal is to be a national champion.
“That goes as far as individually and as a team,” Kistler said. “I want our team to win and we have a good chance to do it.”
Kistler commented about his achievements from postseason last year.
“I took third in RMAC and won regional last year,” Kistler said. “Those tournaments were building blocks for this year.”
The Lancers practice four days a week for two hours during preseason to prepare for this season.
Daxton Gordon, sophomore biology major, who is ranked No. 3 individually in the same poll, talked about the preparation for the season.
“Eight hours a week is the requirement by NCAA,” Gordon said. “I was here drilling during the summer.”
Gordon also said his main goal is also to win the NCAA Championship.
“I feel ready to go, excited, and can’t wait to get in competition,” Gordon said.
Wrestling will begin its regular season at home Nov. 4 against Embry-Riddle University at 12:30 p.m. in the Van Dyne Gymnasium. Zalesky will keep training his team to make an impact this season.
The Lancers will attempt to maintain their No. 3 ranking but hope to make strides and climb up the Division II ranks.