Helping preserve and build college wrestling in California is one of the many missions of California USA Wrestling, which invests tremendous money, time and effort to support college programs in the state. One of the most successful programs each year is California USA Wrestling’s involvement in the annual Roadrunner Open college competition.
For the past three years, California USA Wrestling has worked with the host CSU Bakersfield wrestling team to present this annual college competition, which was held at the Selland Arena in Fresno, Calif. on November 17.
“It has been huge for us,” said Mike Mendoza, head wrestling coach at CSU Bakersfield. “With their help, we have been able to grow the tournament, and every year the level of wrestling has gotten better. Their support helps us to fund the tournament, and by pitching in, they have helped us to raise funds for our team.”
This year, California USA Wrestling’s investment in the event reached over $26,000. Included was support to pay for the Selland Arena cost, hotel rooms for visiting college teams, payments for officials, and food for the coaches, athletes, officials and staff. In addition, California USA Wrestling volunteers work as tournament in many roles, freeing up the CSU Bakersfield program to concentrate on competing in the event.
“The first year we helped with the event, it was held at CSU Bakersfield. We ran the tournament and brought in volunteers, but because of other activities, the facilities were crunched. We asked if we could move the tournament to Fresno, have California USA Wrestling run everything, and have CSU Bakersfield keep all of the entry fees. It has gone very well,” said Rob Valerio, Secretary/Treasurer of California USA Wrestling.
The offer for help and support was immediately accepted by Mendoza and his staff at Cal-State Bakersfield.
“In our first year working together, Rob reached out and asked what they could do. He offered to run everything. It was in Bakersfield, and they brought mats, clocks and volunteer help. They made it so we could just focus on coaching our athletes. Then, they offered to move the event for Fresno, which was great for the event,” said Mendoza.
Each year, the wrestling program at CSU Bakersfield must raise funds to pay for its own budget, and the money that is raised for the college at the Roadrunner Open has been a boost to the program.
“This helps us make our fundraising goal. Each year, we have to raise all of the funds for the program. This support from California USA Wrestling helps us accomplish that. They have been real supportive in other ways. They also help us to compete in the off season. It has been a great opportunity for our program,” said Mendoza.
The level of competition at the Roadrunner Open has continued to increase, as top teams from outside of California have committed to participating against California teams at the event. Drexel and Navy came out to compete last year, and competing this year were Maryland and Appalachian State. Grand Canyon has competed in recent years as well. The fact that California USA Wrestling pays for the hotel rooms of some of the visiting teams has made this an attractive event.
Valerio says that this is an example of the commitment that California USA Wrestling has made to supporting college wrestling in the state.
“What we have done over the years is possible because we have a great Board of Directors with great vision. As an organization, we have decided to give back at all levels. We not only run this event, we help run the California Junior College state tournament as well. For all of our four-year colleges, we buy USA Wrestling membership for all of their wrestlers. That includes CSU Bakersfield, Cal Poly, Stanford, San Francisco State, Menlo College and Cal Baptist. Our Board feels that this is a great investment in California wrestling. Add it all together, and we invest well over $30,000 every year in our college programs,” said Valerio.
If there is something they have not done so well, according to Valerio, is telling the story of their support of California college wrestling.
“We have never been good about talking about what we do. We just do it. But we know that people are interested in what we are doing. We like to give and to help move things forward for wrestling,” said Valerio.
This year’s Roadrunner Open team title went to Maryland, with Stanford-unattached placing second, followed by Navy, Cal Poly and CSU Bakersfield. There were numerous nationally ranked wrestlers in the field, and it was a great early season competition for the teams in attendance.
“It was a mixed bag for our team,” said Mendoza. “We had some guys perform well and show improvement since the start of the season. I am pleased. Our team is going in the right direction.”
The big buzz at the tournament, especially with it being hosted in Fresno, was the announcement last week that Fresno State’s president is considering bringing back varsity wrestling to their university.
“It could be huge. I was very excited that their president is considering it. There was a buzz in Bakersfield, and an even bigger buzz in Fresno. It would be great for college wrestling, and would be really good for us. There is a shortage of opportunity here in California with all of the kids of Div. I caliber in the state. There is a big need in that area,” said Mendoza.
Valerio is also pleased with the possibility of Fresno State reinstating the sport.
“There is huge excitement here. (Former Fresno coach) Dennis Deliddo has given his life to this and what we hear is very positive. Fresno State has a club program now, and they brought a banner, sold shirts and worked the tables. We hope that the Fresno State president understands how passionate we are about wrestling. If this does happen, credit needs to go to Dennis Deliddo, who is crazy about the sport and the school,” said Valerio.
And if Fresno State needs some help in order to bring back the wrestling team, California USA Wrestling stands ready to assist.
“If there is anything we can do to help, we will. We will be right in the middle of this once it gets started. We hope they say yes and give us a target for what they need. We will have a goal to set and be ready to work,” said Valerio.
At Fresno, Calif., Nov. 15-16
1st - Evan Silver (Stanford - Unattached) won by decision over Dominic Parisi (Appalachian State) (Dec 3-1)
3rd - Billy Rappo (Maryland) won by decision over Tommy Pawelski (Stanford - Unattached) (Dec 4-2)
5th - Paul O`Neill (Maryland) won by decision over Britain Longmire (Cal Poly) (Dec 7-5)
1st - Ryan Mango (Stanford - Unattached) won by decision over Jose Mendoza (CSU Bakersfield) (Dec 7-6)
3rd - Colton Rasche (Navy) won by decision over Colt Schilling (Cal Poly-Unattached) (Dec 6-4)
5th - Tyler Goodwin (Maryland) won by major decision over Frank Lomas (CSU Bakersfield) (Maj 10-1)
1st - Shyheim Brown (Maryland) won by decision over Joe Locksmith (Navy) (Dec 3-2)
3rd - Ali Naser (Fresno city) won by decision over Daniel Flores (San Francisco St) (Dec 6-3)
5th - Colt Shorts (Cal Poly) won by medical forfeit over Timmy Box (CSU Bakersfield) (MFF)
1st - Dylan Cottrell (Appalachian State) won by decision over Blake Kastl (Cal Poly) (Dec 7-0)
3rd - Frank Goodwin (Maryland) won by decision over Max Hvolbek (Stanford) (Dec 5-4)
5th - Coleman Hammond (CSU Bakersfield) won by fall over Kyle Chene (Cal Poly) (Fall 3:20)
1st - Max Schneider (Cal Poly) won by major decision over Bret Baumbach (Stanford - Unattached) (Maj 16-6)
3rd - Ben Dorsay (Maryland) won by decision over Peter Galli (Stanford - Unattached) (Dec 10-4)
5th - Zack Johnson (Navy) won by decision over Danny Orem (Maryland) (Dec 11-4)
1st - Jim Wilson (Stanford - Unattached) won by decision over Adam Fierro (CSU Bakersfield) (Dec 5-3)
3rd - Peyton Walsh (Navy) won by decision over Zack Strickland (Appalachian State) (Dec 3-1)
5th - Justin Lozano (Unattached) won by fall over David Meza (CSU Bakersfield) (Fall 1:44)
1st - Mat Miller (Navy) won by decision over Zach Nevills (Stanford - Unattached) (Dec 6-2)
3rd - Colin Hedash (Appalachian State) won by medical forfeit over Bryce Hammond (CSU Bakersfield) (MFF)
5th - Kyle Meyer (Stanford - Unattached) won by medical forfeit over Dominic Kastl (Cal Poly) (MFF)
1st - Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) won by tech fall over James Mannier (Navy) (TF 20-3)
3rd - Tommy Kimbrell (Stanford) won by decision over Sean Dougherty (Cal Poly) (Dec 6-3)
5th - Michael Sojka (Stanford) won in sudden victory - 1 over William Miller (Navy) (SV-1 3-1)
1st - Christian Boley (Maryland) won by decision over Andrew Reggi (San Francisco St) (Dec 10-4)
3rd - Reuben Franklin (CSU Bakersfield) won by major decision over Matt Williams (CSU Bakersfield) (Maj 13-3)
5th - Alan Yen (Stanford) won by forfeit over Elder Cruz (Unattached) (FF)
1st - Spencer Myers (Maryland) won by decision over Spencer Empey (Cal Poly) (Dec 9-2)
3rd - Nathan Butler (Stanford - Unattached) won by decision over Sam Cervantes (CSU Bakersfield) (Dec 5-4)
5th - Josh Marchok (Stanford - Unattached) won by fall over Denzel Dejournette (Appalachian State) (Fall 4:33)
1. Maryland, MD Maryland, MD 81.0
2. Stanford - Unattached, CA Stanford, CA 65.0
3. Navy, MD Navy, MD 56.0
4. Cal Poly, CA Cal Poly, CA 53.0
5. CSU Bakersfield, CA CSU Bakersfield, CA 53.0
6. Appalachian State, NC Appalachian State, NC 42.0
7. Stanford, CA Stanford, CA 22.0
8. San Francisco St, CA San Francisco State, CA 17.0
9. Fresno City, CA Fresno City College, CA 9.0
10. Eighteen teams tied with 0 points