Manny Rivera

CSUB head coach Manny Rivera is hoping it stays dry for Saturday's outdoor wrestling match against Fresno State.

Cal State Bakersfield wrestling coach Manny Rivera is certainly hoping for a warm, sunny day in Bakersfield on Saturday. Wrestling coaches typically don’t have to worry about the weather too much. But when the Roadrunners are trying something new to them, holding the match outside on the Main Soccer Field, it becomes an issue.

“It’s a little concerning,” Rivera said. “... We’re just hoping it stays dry.”

CSUB is set to host Fresno State at 1 p.m. on Saturday in what it has dubbed the “Feud on the Field.” Holding matches outside has become a growing trend in Division I wrestling, and CSUB is the latest program to try it out. It’ll be the Bulldogs’ first match in Bakersfield since 2006 and CSUB’s last home match of the year.

“Everyone’s trying to find a way to make their meets a little more unique and more of a show,” Rivera said. “... At the end of the day, you want them to enjoy your wrestling. You don't want them just to enjoy that you did it outside. You want to compete well.”

As of Tuesday evening, most forecasts predicted some chance of rain and a high in the mid-50 degrees. The National Weather Service noted a 30 percent chance of rain during the day Saturday and The Weather Channel showed a 10 percent chance.

The Roadrunners can deal with lower temperatures than normally experienced inside an arena. Rain is a different story.

The plan for now is to have the mats basically at midfield but closer to bleachers for a better view. There are also special matside seats available. It only took one text to convince Fresno State to go along with the outdoor event, Rivera said.

A backup plan is to move the match over to the Gil Bishop Sports Center at Bakersfield College. That would be decided on Thursday or Friday, Rivera said.

“I’ve never wrestled outside before,” CSUB redshirt senior Sean Nickell said. “I’m excited for it. I was thinking about being cold, it may mess with me a little before my match. But I’m sure as soon as the whistle blows, I’m gonna be feeling the same as I always feel. It’s not gonna be any different. I do like the fanfare around it.”

Rivera is hoping the spectacle can attract some casual wrestling fans to see CSUB for the first time and that the team’s wrestling can convince them to check out more Roadrunners’ events in the future.

CSUB softball starts season Friday

The Roadrunners softball team will open the 2019 season at the NorCal Kickoff, hosted by Sacramento State and UC Davis. CSUB starts the year on Friday against UC Santa Barbara (9:30 a.m.) and Sacramento State (noon) in Sacramento. The Roadrunners will have a game Saturday at UC Davis before heading back to Sacramento for games with Montana (9:30 a.m.) and Sacramento State (noon) on Sunday.

Their home opener isn’t until March 12 with a doubleheader against North Dakota.

CSUB went just 6-38 (3-12 Western Athletic) last year, losing 17 of its first 18 games. The team will have to replace starting pitcher Summer Evans and two outfielders — Julea Cavazos and Kaylynn Burt — who combined for 285 career starts.

Sophomore Daryn Hitzel will likely lead the way in the circle. She went 4-9 last season with a 5.87 earned run average in 33 games (10 starts). CSUB will also return two of its top three hitters by batting average from last year: senior infielder Paige Johnson and senior utility player Chris Hipa.

The WAC coaches picked the Roadrunners to finish last and New Mexico State to finish first.

Jon Mettus can be reached at 661-395-7389. Follow him on Twitter: @jmettus.

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