The lone Cal Poly representative at the NCAA Wrestling Championships, Mustangs freshman grappler Devon Lotito sure seems built for the tournament format.
Second-year Cal Poly head coach Brendan Buckley said the 133-pounder from Bethlehem, Pa., has a chance to finish somewhere in the top eight at the three-day meet in Des Moines, earning All-America status in the process.
“His mindset, his mental game is always strong,” Buckley said. “He never gets too up or too down, so he’s the kind of guy who can do well. Sometimes those kids who are too emotional can get a little caught up. But I feel really good about his composure and his mental state right now.”
When the meet gets underway today, unseeded Lotito (27-9) will take on two-time NCAA qualifier and sophomore Geoffrey Alexander (22-9) of Maryland, also unseeded, in the lone pigtail match of the bracket. The winner will move on to face No. 3 Tyler Graff (28-4) of Wisconsin while the loser goes into the wrestlebacks in the double-elimination tournament.
One of just two Cal Poly grapplers with more than 18 victories, Lotito has been impressive in his debut collegiate season, especially in tournaments.
In November, Lotito came from nowhere to win a title at the Keystone Classic at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and being named the meet’s most outstanding wrestler in a return to his home state.
He also won the title at the California Collegiate Invitational last month, took third at the Reno Tournament of Champions in December and finished first at the Pac-12 Championships, beating rivals from Boise State and Cal State Bakersfield after losing to each one during the dual meet season.
At Liberty High, Lotito was a three-time Pennsylvania AAA state place-winner, with his best showing being a third-place finish as a senior. He compiled an overall prep record of 106-12, including 39-2 as a senior.
Lotito was able to translate the success in his first year at Cal Poly, stringing together two eight-match win streaks, including his current tear.“He’s had success since he started wrestling,” Buckley said. “He’s got a lot of confidence in his abilities. He works really hard. He’s in great shape. He’s solid in every position. That’s just kind of who he is. That’s his personality.”