This season, California Baptist University wrestling has a young squad, including 22 freshmen, five sophomores, four juniors and two seniors. The young team hits the mats on Oct. 26 at the annual intrasquad Blue/Gold meet.
The Lancers open their season on Nov. 2 and have competitive matches up until Feb. 29, including six home duels.
As the team gets closer to full Division I status, Lennie Zalesky, head coach of wrestling, said the team is eager to learn.
“They have a disciplined work ethic,” Zalesky said of this year’s team.
The Lancers prepared for the upcoming season by doing workouts on their own during the summer. Garrett Strang, junior construction management major, said the way he prepared physically and mentally has stayed consistent every season.
“The only difference (in my mentality) this year is constantly trying to find new ways to improve and push myself every day,” Strang said.
CBU will be traveling to the East Coast this season to North Carolina, Virginia and Connecticut.
“I love to travel,” said Zachary Schrader, junior marketing major. “I always look forward to going to away matches and exploring different cities. We’re going out East a few times this year, which should be fun.”
“The juniors and seniors on the team have done a great job mentoring the younger group,” Zalesky said. “They have been vocal about their work ethic and what they have experienced.”
Strang said the past leaders for the Lancers wrestling team left a legacy with their strong mentoring skills.
“I use my experience to influence the younger guys the same way the past leadership taught me,” Strang said. “That is leading by example through diligence and encouraging the guys to constantly find ways to get better every day.
Zalesky said every match is a battle. This season, the Lancers prepare for challenging tournaments, including the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 15.
Schrader said he is most excited for CBU’s match against Stanford on Jan. 18. To prepare for these matches, Schrader said he needs to find a source of energy and then said he is ready to go.
“Just need to get some coffee in me and a good warm up and I’ll be ready for anything,” Schrader said.
Although the Lancers have a younger team this season, there are a lot of players that Zalesky is looking forward to seeing – AJ Raya, Josh Grant, Frank Almaguer, Christian Nunez and many more.
With plenty of young talent, Strang also said the leaders on the team are just as excited as the eager newcomers.
“The thing I look forward to most about this season is getting the opportunity to lead the team and prove we are a force to be reckoned with in this new division,” Strang said.