Pac-12 Wrestling: Coaching Conundrum Pt.3
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Pac-12 Wrestling: Coaching Conundrum Pt.3

The Cal Poly Mustangs

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Pac-12 Wrestling: Coaching Conundrum Pt.3
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(Boris Novachkov, 3x All American for the Mustangs from 2007-12)


Cal Poly became a vacancy early March of this year when then-head coach Brendan Buckley resigned after five seasons to become the Executive Director of Beat the Streets, NYC, and was quickly filled by Coach Jon Sioredas of Grand Canyon a month later in April. Sioredas was slated to be a D1 coach, but with the now-defunct Grand Canyon University Lopes wrestling team.

Cal Poly has been the site of many progressive regime changes recently. Prior to the Buckley tenure, the Mustangs faced a regime change as Head Coach Azevedo retired and assistant Mark Perry took an associate head coaching post for the Fighting Illini (creating a lasting CA- Illinois pipeline of HS talent) in 2011.

(Mike Evans at the 2016 Pac-12 Wrestling Championships, coaching for the Mustangs)

In the summer of 2011, Buckley was hired and by August, Olympic Silver and California prep Jamill Kelly was hired on for a stint that would last only a season (Kelly would spend 2012-2014 with North Carolina State University before returning to the Pac-12 to join the Stanford coaching staff, a post Kelly has held since). Last year, Buckley hired 3x All American Mike Evans as an assistant, though he has since returned to Iowa City to continue his athletic career with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club.

The Mustangs have fallen hard since their turn-of-the-decade success (though, this is a trend found across the conference). Cal Poly had NCAA Runner-ups in Chad Mendes (141lbs, 2008), Chase Pami (157lbs, 2010), and Boris Novachkov (141lbs, 2011) as well as All-Americans from 2008 to 2012. Since then, only 3 Mustangs have qualified for NCAAs at all with no wrestler earning All-American honors since Novachkov and Ryan DesRoches in 2012. With Cal Poly-SLO garnering 0 NCAA Qualifiers in 2016 and having no wrestler place higher than 4th out of 6 at the Pac-12 championships this year, Sioredas and staff has serious work to do.

Nonetheless, I’m very happy for the change in coaching staffs in San Luis Obispo. Hopefully I will be able to cheer-on Mustangs at NCAAs again. When Perry left, Athletic Director Don Oberhelman (who is still the AD) assured the community that the university was “committed 100 percent to [the] program.” Oberhelman went on to say, “the fact that we had a coaching change is irrelevant to whether or not we’re going to have wrestling at Cal Poly.”

That kind of loyalty to the program speaks to the tradition of and support for the Mustang program and is a definite perk for an incoming coach and his staff. Sioredas takes over at Cal Poly after two years at the helm of the previously mentioned GCU team, which competed on a provisional level under the auspices that it would become the newest Division 1 wrestling program in the 2016-2017 season. While Sioredas’s GCU team went 5-19 in the 2015-2016 season, all 19 losses were to NCAA Division 1 programs. The worst losses were a 0-44 shut-out to perennial D1 power Iowa at the Iowa City Duals and a 0-39 loss at the end of the season to Utah Valley. Nonetheless, Sioredas was able to notch a 41-0 shut-out over NAIA Embry-Riddle, a 21-16 win over D1 Campbell University, and a 23-12 win over D1 The Citadel.

Building a Foundation

Sioredas has complimented his staff with two assistant coaches. First is California state champ (Poway HS, San Diego Section) Todd Schavrien. Schavrien comes off a season as the head assistant at D1 Appalachian State. He’s slated to run recruitment and operations efforts. Luckily for Schavrien, Cal Poly continues to benefit from its location and academic excellence as it attracts valuable California talent from both the prep landscape and the CA Community College system. Schavrien was a team captain and D1 All-American for the University of Missouri, leadership qualities that compliment his fellow assistant coach, Mike Hatcher.

Hatcher was an Iowa prep and wrestler for Dan Gable. If Schavrien’s job is to recruit talent, Hatcher’s appears to be molding it into D1 All-Americans. Hatcher has coached athletes through the senior level and is slated to be the primary voice in the practice room on a day-to-day basis. Sioredas and Hatcher recently shared time at Grand Canyon, as Hatcher was the head coach of the Grand Canyon Takedown Club/ Regional Training Center (a location for Olympic hopefuls to train).

Between the three coaches, they share a wealth of coaching experience, knowledge on both running a program and the sport of wrestling. This leaves me with an optimistic outlook on the Mustang program. If Sioredas can build Cal Poly back into a Pac-12 and national power, we’ll surely be cheering on California studs on their way to the podium.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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