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Friday, Mar 21 2014 11:20 PM

CSUB's Hammond secures All-American wrestling honors at 174

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    In this March 19, 2013 photo, Cal State Bakersfield wrestler Bryce Hammond has a good hold on his opponent, Connor Moran, of the Drexel Dragons.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

Bryce Hammond made history Friday night, and now he wants more.

Hammond, a Cal State Bakersfield sophomore and Bakersfield High graduate, secured All-America honors Friday at the NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

Hammond, who came into the tournament unseeded, guaranteed himself the honor -- the first for a CSUB wrestler in four years, the first for coach Mike Mendoza and the first since CSUB's program became self-funding -- with a 1-0 victory over No. 9 seed Elliott Riddick of Lehigh in a consolation match.

"When I wasn't seeded, I felt like I had something to prove," Hammond said. "I was kind of upset, and I think part of it is because I'm not from a big school. I think I kind of proved my point a little bit."

Hammond (24-10) lost his first-round match Thursday, 8-2 to No. 4 seed Michael Evans of Iowa. He said that setback was still bothering him Friday night.

"It's kind of a bittersweet thing," he said. "I'm beyond excited to be an All-American, but still kind of in the back of my head is losing that first match."

Hammond won one match Thursday to stay alive, then reeled off two more wins Friday morning, 9-2 over Rider's Conor Brennan and 10-4 over Virginia's Stephen Doty.

That got him into the night session, where he used a third-period escape to hold off Riddick, who had chosen neutral position in the second period, but never took Hammond down.

"A lot of people don't choose bottom on me because they know I like to work from top," Hammond said. "When he took neutral I knew it could be a one-point match, but I didn't think he could take me down if I stayed alert."

He's CSUB's first All-American since Mitch Monteiro placed fifth at heavyweight in 2010. He'll have two years to become the Roadrunners' first multiple All-American since Matt Sanchez in 2004-2005.

Hammond lost his final match Friday, 9-3 to No. 5 seed Matt Brown of Penn State to fall into the seventh-place match. That will be against Pittsburgh's Tyler Wilps in this morning's medal session.

"I'm exhausted, but seventh or eighth makes a big difference to me," Hammond said. "I'm excited to be an All-American, but I still want to do the best I can. Going out with seventh is not exactly what I want, but it's a lot better than eighth. I would love nothing more than to go out with a win."

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