BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
Dalton Kelley always feels the pressure to win when he takes to the wrestling mat. But with his mother in attendance for the final home match of his Cal State Bakersfield career, Kelley felt an additional urgency to get a victory during the Roadrunners dual against Arizona State on Sunday night.
Kelley pulled through, garnering a hard-fought 2-0 win against Preston McCalmon. However, his triumph at 149 pounds wasn't enough to keep CSUB from losing 22-15 to the Sun Devils at the Icardo Center.
"It's the first and only time my mom has made it out from Colorado to watch me wrestle," Kelley said. "I lost my dad my sophomore year so unfortunately he wasn't able to be here. That added some emotion right before the dual. I was wanting to win in front of her and win to close out (my career) here at Cal State. I tried to keep those feelings down but as much as you try there's some pressure to get that done today."
Kelley's win was one of four by CSUB.
Ian Nickell (141 pounds) recorded a pin and Jose Mendoza (133) and Bryce Hammond (174) each earned decisions for CSUB, which dropped to 11-23-1 all-time against ASU.
CSUB (6-8, 1-3 Pac-12) led 12-7 before ASU (8-3-1 Pac-12) closed out the dual by winning four of the final five matches.
"I think this dual meet slipped away from us," CSUB coach Mike Mendoza said. "It was a winnable dual but a couple of matches that were close, we didn't win those matches. We needed to win those closer matches."
Down 7-0 after the first two matches, Mendoza started CSUB on a three-bout winning streak by downing Cord Coronado 7-0.
"I felt like I didn't really wrestle my match that well," Jose Mendoza said. "I couldn't really get much going on top, which is my strongest point. But it was nice to the win. But it would have been nicer to get the team win as well."
Mendoza's victory featured two of only three takedowns scored by CSUB during the dual.
Nickell was locked in a 1-1 struggle until he finally stuck Matt Kraus 47 seconds into the third period.
"I wrestled well," Nickell said. "I think a pin doesn't speak to how the match went...He was a tough opponent. I think he wrestled really tough. Last time I had a lot more decisive win and scored a lot more points."
Kelley and McCalmon battled to a scoreless draw through two periods. Finally the redshirt senior from Alamosa, Colo. got an escape with 1:20 left to go in the match. That point along with one more for riding time proved to be the difference as Kelley improved his record this year to 17-17.
"I knew he was going to be a tough opponent," Kelley said. "Saw him earlier this year. He matches up well with me. So I just wanted to wrestle smart, do the things I can, wrestle my match, and get the victory. Fortunately I came out on top but I had to fight every second for it."
Hammond, the most highly-touted member of the 'Runners, ranked No. 11 in the nation at 174 pounds by InterMat, used a second-period escape to defeat Ray Waters, 1-0.
The three seniors in Bakersfield's lineup, Kelley, Mendoza, and heavyweight Sammy Cervantes were recognized before the dual meet.
The Sun Devils only national ranked wrestler, Blake Stauffer, No. 20 in the latest NCAA poll, won 18-3 in a technical fall victory over Sean Pollock.
That win turned a 15-14 deficit into a 19-15 lead for ASU, which had two major decisions and three decisions among its other five wins.
The Sun Devils, not only won a majority of the bouts -- six out 10 -- but also collected more bonus points (4-3) than the 'Runners.