Coaching Conundrum Pt.8
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Coaching Conundrum Pt.8

Eyes on March

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Coaching Conundrum Pt.8
Tony Rotundo/WrestlersAreWarriors.com

As the 2016-2017 season approaches, the national wrestling landscape ramps up in preparation for another winter of wrestling. We’ve continued to keep a close eye on Fresno State and Boise State through the summer, in part because they were the first two teams covered in Coaching Conundrum. Temporally, there is much more to talk about beyond what I was able to cover on each team. Notably, both coaching staffs are continuing to develop as is the staff of Manny Rivera in Bakersfield. Here, we touch base with every staff covered in the series, to bring ourselves up to date with the Pac-12 field plus Fresno State coming into this season.

Fresno State

The last we heard of Fresno State, the Bulldogs had added Assistant Coach Israel Silva to their staff as well as a few California hammers to their tentative-roster. Since, Coach Troy Steiner has earned more verbal commitments from California preps in addition to bringing on past-Boise State stand-out Jason Chamberlain as an assistant coach. Chamberlain was a 3x Pac-12 Champion for the Broncos, earning titles as a freshman, junior, and redshirt-senior at 149lbs. He also earned four NCAA qualifications with two All-American honors when he placed 3rd as a junior (2011) and 2nd as a RS-senior (2013). In 2012 on Olympic-redshirt, Chamberlain was a 2012 University World Team member and University National Champion in freestyle.

(Jason Chamberlain, left, in the All-American rounds of the 2011 NCAA Championships)

The talent continues to accumulate at Fresno State. The latest includes Robert Garcia IV of Selma High School, a legacy of the Fresno State program. Garcia enters his senior year this season, searching for his fourth CA-state medal (and first state title). He’s in position to be an integral part of the first (returning) class of his father’s alma mater.

We’ll continue to watch how Coach Steiner and company make (good) use of their year to prepare.

Boise State: Mendoza announces staff

Mid-summer, 2x Pac-12 Champ and All-American Geo Martinez transferred from Boise State to Oklahoma State amidst the change in coaching staffs in Boise. In the first week of September, 1st-year Head Coach Mike Mendoza filled his staff with a combination of trusted assistants and Bronco-products. 2011 CSU Bakersfield graduate Riley Orozco follows Mendoza after spending the last five years with Mendoza in the (head) assistant position for his alma mater. Orozco was the first 4x NCAA qualifier for the Runners since 2005 and a 2010 Pac-12 Champion; he was recruited directly by Mendoza as an athlete. Mendoza follows the hire of Orozco up with 1st-year Assistant Coach Levi Jones and 2nd-year Volunteer Assistant Andrew Hochstrasser. Jones was a 3x NCAA qualifier and 2011 graduate for Boise State, who spent a year (2011-12) on the coaching scene with Arizona State.

(Andrew Hochstrasser on the medal stand after a runner-up performance at the 2011 NCAAs.)

Andrew Hochstrasser reprises his role as the Bronco Volunteer Assistant Coach. Still active on the senior circuit, Hochstrasser is a contemporary of Jones and was a prominent figure during the nationally-ranked Bronco teams of the early 2010s as a 2x Pac-12 Champion and 2x All-American, reaching the 2011 NCAA finals in his last year.

The four-strong staff appears poised to reinvigorate the Bronco program in the near future. The Broncos face Big 10 foe Purdue on November 18th.

Another interesting note is the transfer of redshirt-junior AJ Fierro from CSUB to Boise State, following Coach Mendoza. We’ll keep an eye on his progression in the coming seasons.

Cal Poly SLO: Sioredas settles in the surf

In his interview with Sudden History’s Earl Smith, Cal Poly’s newest head coach, Jon Sioredas, sounded ready to build on his new program. He noted a “quick transition” for himself and the Mustang team, with a focus on “getting better at wrestling.” Sioredas and staff seem to be abiding to the classic paradigm of ‘iron sharpens iron,’ as it opens the season with the first of three B1G opponents with Indiana University followed by San Francisco State at the Cal Poly Tri-Dual. SFSU is an NCAA Division 2 school, but in the last few seasons have proven to be all that Cal Poly could ask for in a nearby, quality opponent. At the start of the 2013-14 season, SFSU and Cal Poly had a 16-16 tiebreaker dual meet that went CP’s way on third-criteria (total match points). At the start of 2014-15, SFSU shocked the Mustangs in a 24-9 dual, though CP tagged the Gators of San Francisco back with a 29-8 dual victory last season. The improving Indiana University and SFSU will be good litmus tests for the Mustangs this season.

CSUB: Rivera completes staff

“He’s ready to be a head coach.” Newly-minted Associate Head Coach Jeff Silveira said of CSU Bakersfield’s newest head coach, Manny Rivera. Rivera has kept much of the proven staff at CSUB while bringing in the addition of some young talent.

The legendary Stephen Neal stays on staff as the alumni relations coordinator. Neal was a 1999 World Freestyle Champion, 2x D1 NCAA champion and 4x All-American for Bakersfield. Long-time Volunteer Assistant Coach Efren Ceballos will return for his 11th-season on the Roadrunner staff. Ceballos was a 3x Pac-12 runner-up and the third wrestler in school history to be a 4x NCAA Qualifier. He earned All-American honors as a senior, placing 5th at NCAAs.

Former University of Michigan and University of Tennessee, Chattanooga stand-out Sean Boyle joins the Roadrunner staff as the newest face. Boyle was a 3x NCAA qualifier in his career, in addition to winning a 2015 Southern Conference title for the UTC Mocs. He spent last season at UTC as a graduate assistant, on staff while completing grad school.

A familiar face, in 2016 graduate and NCAA qualifier Reuben Franklin, returns for the Runners this season, this time on staff as director of operations. Franklin was a Pac-12 runner-up at 197lbs in 2016 as well as a key-member of the surging Roadrunners last season. Franklin spent most of his senior ranked in the top-10 of his weight-class (per FloWrestling), as high as 7th in the nation. Associate HC Silveira noted, in his interview with Earl Smith, Franklin’s immediate impact on the development of his possible successor and former teammate Matt Williams. Williams, a redshirt-junior, will return to 197 after a season at 285lbs. As a freshman starter at 197lbs, Williams finished as a 2015 Pac-12 runner-up. If Williams can build on both his (2015) season and Franklin’s (2016) season, the Runner’s may have a solid man at 197lbs.

(Note: Silveira was credited for only one season with the Roadrunners in Coaching Conundrum Pt. 4, while he is in fact entering his third-season with CSUB, after spending five season at San Francisco State between 2009 and 2014. It was also incorrectly implied that Efren Ceballos had only spent nine (9) seasons with CSUB, while in fact he had completed ten (10) seasons thus far.)

Arizona State

Arizona State lost some heat when a part of its #1-recruiting class (2015) left the team prior to competing in his first varsity season. Lance Benick, recruited out of Minnesota, is no longer with the Sun Devil wrestling program per Flowrestling’s Christian Pyles. The effect on the potential Sun Devil line-up may be a huge factor in the conference field this season, with Benick projected at 197lbs.

The hit at the 197lbs weight-class may be balanced by the entrance of Arizona State’s potential answer at 125lbs. In Coaching Conundrum Pt.6, it was speculated that ASU would field one of two redshirt-freshmen at 125 heading into the future. The Sun Devils will get a boost in experience next-season, as 2016 All-American Ryan Millhof is set to transfer and redshirt for the Sun Devils after a change in coaching staffs at his prior institution, University of Oklahoma. If all goes as planned, ASU will have two All-Americans join their line-up next season (Millhof and Jason Tsirtsis), a year after the highly-touted freshmen get a full-season under their belt.

In addition to adding more talent to their roster, Head Coach Zeke Jones has also announced the hire of 3x Canadian Freestyle Olympian, 6x Canadian World Teamer Haislan Garcia as a Volunteer Assistant Coach. Garcia brings that much more wrestling expertise to Tempe, despite being essentially a freestyle-exclusive competitor. Nonetheless, Garcia’s freestyle arsenal will be put to great use by Zeke Jones, a great freestyle wrestler in his own right (1991 World Champion, ‘92 Olympic Silver), to apply both of their incredible minds to their athletes. Garcia will also be a large facet of the Sunkist Kids, the renown regional training center for Freestyle based on ASU’s campus. It is presumed that Nahshon Garrett and Jordan Oliver (among others) are still in Tempe with the Sunkist Kids, adding to the list of over-qualified training partners for the Sun Devil squad.

Oregon State

It hasn’t been long since we’ve heard from the OSU Beavers, as they were the focus of the latest installment of the Coaching Conundrum series. Nonetheless, there were a couple things left out. Of note, Redshirt-Junior Jack Hathaway also returns this season. Hathaway was a 2015 Pac-12 Champion and NCAA qualifier at 133lbs, but missed the national tournament last season up at 141lbs. Hathaway and fellow 2015 NCAA qualifier Cody Crawford make it seven total returning NCAA qualifiers for the Beavers, in addition to 2016 NCAA qualifiers Ronnie Bresser, Joey Palmer, Joey Delgado, Corey Griego, and Amarveer Dhesi.

On the Sudden History Podcast ep. 30, Associate Head Coach Kevin Roberts hinted at a possible talent-jam at 133lbs, as notable California prep (out of the Sac-Joaquin Section), True Freshman Devan Turner looks to challenge for the starting-spot. It’ll be interesting to see the weights shake-out for the Beavers, as there are NCAA qualifiers at 125, 133, 141, and 149lbs. They also book-end their line-up NCAA qualifiers at 184, 197, and heavyweight. Talent is clearly not a problem in Corvallis.

(Shouts out to MEL/SJS California preps Drake McKee and Adam Rateb, freshmen on the Beaver squad from my high school conference, following in the footsteps of the likes of Clayton Jack.)

Want more from the wrestling landscape?

Sudden History ep. 30: Pac-12 Preview Podcast hosted by Earl Smith

Coaching Conundrum:Part 1: Fresno State / Part 2: Boise State / Part 3: Cal-Poly SLO / Part 4: CSU Bakersfield / Part 5: Stanford / Part 6: Arizona State / Part 7: Oregon State by Darius Levan

One More Step: A Foreword to the 2016/17 Season

July ‘16: D1 Wrestling Update on Fresno State and Boise State

Olympic Wrestling: Breakdown of Controversy: Gomez vs Navruzov

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