During the first month of the season, there already have been a lot of indicators that the Cal State Bakersfield wrestling team is much improved from a year ago.
Another big one came Sunday as the Roadrunners dominated San Francisco State 32-9 in a dual meet at the CSUB Old Gym.
Last year, CSUB, which now leads the all-time series between the two schools, 35-3, lost to the Gators for the first time since 1975.
"I've been thinking about last year's loss to them since last year," CSUB coach Mike Mendoza said. "It's kind of bothered me so I wanted to have a good, strong showing. The guys came out and wrestled tough. "
The 'Runners (4-1) won seven of Sunday's 10 matches. All but one of CSUB's victories garnered bonus points.
Redshirt-freshman Bryce Hammond pinned AJ Simon at the 2:06 mark of their 174-pound bout.
Minutes later, heavyweight Sammy Cervantes closed out the dual with a first-period pin of Zach VomSteeg.
At 157-pounds, Adam Fierro won via technical fall over Daniel Flores.
The 'Runners other four victories came from Tyler Iwamura (125), Ian Nickell (133), and Reuben Franklin (184), who all won major decisions, plus Dalton Kelley, a 11-6 winner at 149 pounds.
"Coach Mendoza) was really upset about last year, us losing to them for the first time in (37 years)," Fierro said. "This entire week our plan was to come out here and dominate and to score points no matter what. And that's what we did for the most part."
All three of San Francisco State's wins were by four points or less.
The Gators (0-1) most decisive victory was by Navaeed Bagheri. Ranked No. 5 in Division II at 141 pounds, Bagheri used two takedowns and an escape to beat Jose Mendoza 5-1.
San Francisco State's other nationally ranked wrestler, Isaiah Jimenez (No. 6 in D-II at 165 pounds), edged David Meza 6-5.
Meza led 4-3 after getting a takedown with 1:20 left in the match. But Jimenez got an escape to tie things 11 seconds later and then pulled ahead for good with a late takedown.
"We shouldn't have had nine points on the other side," Hammond said. "All the matches that we lost are matches that we could have won and I think the whole team thinks we should have won. We would have liked to see (the final score) be more like 45-0. Overall we had some good wins and guys wrestled pretty well, but it's that nine points that you hate to see against a D-II team."
Both Hammond and Fierro came out aggressive from the get-go in their matches.
Fierro racked up nine back-points and led 11-0 at the end of the first period against Flores. He extended his advantage to 17-4 over the next two minutes, before ending the match prematurely early in the third period with a takedown.
Hammond scored a takedown just 12 seconds into his match. Not long after that he had Simon on his back fighting for survival.
Hammond, a two-time CIF State Champion while at BHS, is one of several reasons for the 'Runners improvement this season.
He was one of four redshirt freshman to wrestle for CSUB against San Francisco State.
The influx of young talent mixed with key veterans like Iwamura, Kelley, and Cervantes has given the 'Runners a solid 10-man starting lineup.
"I feel like we're going in the right direction," Mike Mendoza said. "We have a much better team, that should have much better results this year. And so far we're heading in that direction. I don't want to gauge last year's bad season and just being satisfied that we're better this year because it's an automatic that we're better with the guys that we have in the lineup and the guys that we have wrestling for us. Right now I'm optimistic because we're showing s\some great potential with some of our guys."