May 23, 2024

Hannah Tamimi | Banner Peter Cunningham, sophomore mechanical engineering major, lifts his opponnent in the air duirng a match Feb. 5 against Colorado Mesa University. The team defeated its Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opponent 19-15.

After a season of firsts, it only made sense that the wrestling team at California Baptist University is preparing to close out the season with its first ever Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title.

With a team score of 133.5 points, the Lancers claimed their first RMAC title over all eight other teams. The team had nine out of 10 wrestlers competing for a top-three spot in each of their weight classes with five wrestling for third and four wrestling for the individual title. Individual titles were claimed by Nolan Kistler, sophomore criminal justice major, who won the 165-pound RMAC title; Joseph Fagiano, graduate student in business administration, who claimed the co-Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament title; and Jacob Waste, junior criminal justice major, won the RMAC title for the 184-pound weight class.

As a whole, the team was able to claim their first ever title.

Brady Bersano, senior marketing major, said the win was not a surprise considering the year the team has had.

“I knew we could win it going into it so it wasn’t a huge surprise, but being the first team to win our conference was really exciting,” Bersano said. “It feels really great.”

In the last home meet of the season Feb. 5, the RMAC champions faced Colorado Mesa University, winning 19-15. The match presented an opportunity for redemption for Bersano, as his opponent beat him 10-9 during conference championships. Bersano defeated his opponent in front of the home crowd with a four minute, 54 second pin.

With a conference title under their belt, the team will look to prepare for the NCAA Division II Super West Region Championships Feb. 26-27. This tournament will determine who advances to NCAA Division II Championships March 11-12.

Lennie Zalesky, head coach of the wrestling team, said both wins closed out the season in dramatic fashion and the team is now focused on the NCAA Regional and Championship. “It closes out a pretty strong year for us in conference,” Zalesky said. “Our biggest thing is getting ready for the NCAAs and trying to get as many guys through as possible. It’s going to be a lot of tough wrestling and a lot of tough matches.”

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