All night long, Ryan Smith was pacing Mott Gym anxious in anticipation that the weight of the Cal Poly wrestling team’s unbeaten dual record would in the end fall squarely on his shoulders.
The 197-pound junior then turned a stomach-churning nightmare into a dream sequence by sealing the dual victory against visiting Wyoming in Friday night’s final match.
“From the first moment I heard 197 was last weight class, I was like ‘Oh, God, it’s coming down to me,’ ” Smith said.
“The whole dual I saw the score getting closer and closer, and I was like, ‘It’s coming down to me and it’s coming down to me.’ ”
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Smith was truly fearing that he might have to come up with a pin to earn the extra points necessary for the victory, but with Cal Poly pulling some earlier bonus points of its own, a simple decision was all it took.
As a pocket of the 881 in attendance methodically chanted his name, Smith withstood a late third-period takedown for a 10-8 win over L.J. Helbig, and three of Smith’s Mustangs teammates came away with major decisions to help Cal Poly pull off the minor 18-16 upset of No. 25 Wyoming. Cal Poly improved to 5-0 in duals this season and move to 4-0 all-time in the series with the Cowboys (4-4).
Minnesota transfer Atticus Disney started things off with a 16-7 major decision at 285, and No. 4 Filip Novachkov and Barrett Abel also followed up with major decisions at 133 and 157 pounds.
“In big duals, it comes down to getting bonus points,” Smith said, “and the guys who had a chance to get bonus points worked hard to get them.”
Abel, a senior hardship transfer from UC Davis, opened up a 10-1 lead on Wyoming’s Jimmy Belleville with just one minute gone in the first, and, after a short comeback by Belleville, made a late takedown for a timely 16-8 victory that give Cal Poly a 12-9 lead.
Abel plans to transfer back to UC Davis to graduate after the wrestling season. He was allowed to wrestle for the Mustangs when the Aggies decided to dissolve their program because of budget cuts in the offseason.
The defending Pac-10 champion, Abel was courted by other programs and ultimately chose Cal Poly over conference rival Oregon State.“I’m here on loan, I guess,” Abel said. “It’s a win-win situation for them and me.
“It’s definitely a big focus on the team, and I definitely feel like I’m included I’m glad to be able to come out here and help them out. At this point, I’m just glad to be wrestling.”
Cal Poly had disappointing one-point losses by senior Filip Novachkov at 133 pounds and junior Ryan DesRoches at 165.
DesRoches appeared poised to end the undefeated streak of the Cowboys’ Shane Onufer (17-0), ranked sixth in the country, as he started the third period with an escape to go up 4-3.
But Onufer took down DesRoches, who was trying to avenge a 10-2 loss in a rematch of the finals of the Reno Tournament of Champions, with 18 seconds left and walked away with a 5-4 win.
What helped save the meet for the Mustangs was a 3-2 win by sophomore Steven Vasquez at 174, and decision losses for senior Stephen Thalin at 149 and Kelan Bragg at 184 — who each denied their ranked opponents a pin.
“That coaching staff, I can 100 percent guarantee they were coming in here thinking ‘We’re going to get a fall at 149, we’re going to get a fall at 184,’ ” Cal Poly co-head coach Mark Perry said.
“If you would have told me that Filip Novachkov and Ryan DesRoches were going to lose, and we were still going to win the dual, I would have had a hard time figuring that one out. And that’s a testament to the guys that might not be the guys that are going to get all the spotlight. They got the job done for us today.”