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Smith sheds interim tag, named CSUB wrestling coach

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Luke Smith, left, and Manny Rivera oversee a CSUB wrestling match. Smith, who replaced Rivera prior at the start of last season, was named the program's full-time head coach Wednesday after serving in an interim role in 2021.

Though he didn't get much of a chance to shine in his first season, Luke Smith did enough to win over his bosses at Cal State Bakersfield.

After serving as the program's interim coach last season, Smith was officially hired as the full-time head coach of the CSUB wrestling program on Wednesday.

"Luke did an excellent job guiding our wrestling student-athletes through a tumultuous season," CSUB Athletic Director Kenneth "Ziggy" Siegfried said in a press release. "In the face of adversity, the team remained engaged academically and within the CSUB community, and competed to a high standard in both the Pac-12 Conference and at the National level.

"Luke is a tremendous leader and role model for our student-athletes, well respected in the wrestling community and believes deeply in the tradition and character of CSUB Wrestling."  

Having previously coached at Eastern Michigan University, Smith spent two seasons as a Roadrunner assistant before stepping into the interim head coaching role last fall, following the resignation of Manny Rivera.

In his first season, the Roadrunners competed in just two official duals before having to shut down operations to be in compliance with COVID-19 protocols. 

They returned for the Pac-12 Championships, then had three wrestlers qualify for the NCAA National Tournament, including Dom Ducharme, a Pac-12 champion at 184 pounds.