SF State men’s wrestling coach Lars Jensen and assistant coach Isaiah Jimenez donned fresh Hawaiian leis around their necks as they cheered and yelled directions to their wrestlers during the team’s home opener of 2017, on Friday afternoon at SF State.
In a back-to-back match up, the Gators faced off against the number 11 nationally ranked Division I California Baptist University, followed by Simon Fraser University.
Jensen said the leis were given to the team by teammate Tyson Kuahine’s family, who traveled from Hawaii to support the team, as a form of good luck. The gesture seemed to work for Kuahine himself, as he was the first wrestler to put SF State on the board against California Baptist with his 6-4 win over Dominic Kincaid in the 165 weight class.
Kuahine, who struggled a little in the beginning of the match with an initial takedown from Kincaid, said he wants to work on starting off his matches at a higher tempo, but he was happy with his performance on Friday.
“It was tough getting back into the groove of things, going to class and going to practice,” Kuahine said. “But we’ve been training all winter, so I felt pretty good.”
The Gators recently returned from seven games on the road in Indiana and Nebraska, where they suffered losses throughout the National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals and broke even between wins and losses at the University of Nebraska Kearney Midwest Duals.
Jensen admitted exhaustion from travel and the turmoil of the first week of classes might have played a part in his team’s performance on Friday.
Though Matt Gamble attempted to keep the momentum going against California Baptist, pinning Mario Barrios at 2:12 in the 125 weight class, the Gators fell short losing to California Baptist 30-15.
The second match, against Simon Fraser was riddled with forfeits from the opponents, proving beneficial for the Gators, as they dominated Simon Fraser 39-9.
Aside from the five forfeits, grad student Joshua Weinberg lead the Gators off with his 12-8 win against Simon Fraser’s Taber Spray in the 149 weight class. In a close match, SF State’s Jesse Lyga squeezed out a 3-2 win against Reid Watkins in the 174 weight class.
Johnathon Costa gained the final win against Simon Fraser after losing by technical fall to California Baptist’s number one ranked Jacob Waste at 6:21 in his prior match-up of the day.
Although Costa, who moved up a weight class to 197, won his match against Simon Fraser’s Ciaran Ball 6-4, he said he was disappointed in his overall performance on Friday.
“I didn’t show up today,” Costa said. “I cut weight pretty poorly and I think that effected my performance.”
Costa said he was 2 pounds overweight at weigh-in and could feel it in his body and his performance.
“It definitely takes a toll when you cut weight wrong, “ Costa said. “Everyone saw it out there with my performance.”
Costa’s teammates could be heard yelling at him to stop looking at the clock as he continuously looked over to see how much time remained in the middle of his match.
“That was just me being lazy to be honest,” Costa said. “I need to push the pace, I can’t be looking at the clock like that.”
Overall, Jensen said his team performed well and he feels he has a strong core group of wrestlers and newer members of the team who will be given more chances to shine.
“We did fairly well,” Jensen said. “I’m happy with our performance, but we’ve just got to get better.”
Jensen said he hopes to have another successful day Saturday when 24 wrestlers on the team have the chance to match up in the SF State hosted 40th Annual California Collegiate Wrestling Open.
The Gators will match up against some of the top ranked schools in the nation including Stanford University, ranked 20 in Division I.