CLEVELAND, OHIO — The career of one of the most decorated student-athletes in Central College wrestling program history wrapped up Saturday as C.J. Pestano (senior, 125 pounds, Torrance, Calif.) finished in sixth place at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships.
An illustrious career for Pestano also includes a second-place finish in 2016 and a fourth-place effort in 2017. A 30-4 mark this year gives Pestano a career record of 107-9, good for eighth on the Dutch wrestling all-time victories list.
“C.J. has left a legacy at Central College,” coach Eric Van Kley said. “Our program is in a different place because of him and what he has done.”
Jon McGovern ‘92 is the only other three-time All-American at Central. He won back-to-back national titles at 167 pounds in 1991 and 1992 after starting his run with a fourth-place finish at 158 pounds in 1990.
“To be the second three-time All-American in our history is unbelievable,” Van Kley said. “I’m so proud of everything he has done at Central. His work ethic and toughness made it all happen.”
Pestano got his revenge on Ferdinand Mase of Ithaca College (N.Y.) in the consolation quarterfinals with another last second takedown to win 3-1. Mase had previously beaten Pestano 6-5 in the pigtail match at the start of the tournament Friday.
Brock Haas of Brockport State (N.Y.) defeated Pestano 9-6 in the consolation semifinals and Pestano lost a 10-0 major decision against Nick Mancini of the University of Mount Union (Ohio) 10-0 in the fifth-place bout. The team standings before Saturday night’s final session put Central in 34th place with eight points.
For the 2018-19 season, Central will return nine of 10 starters, including national qualifiers Jeremy Vester (junior, 165 pounds, Oak Harbor, Wash.) and Nathan Fritz (sophomore, Sigourney). Cam Timok (junior, Glen Allen Va., Hermitage HS) was an All-American at 133 pounds last year before an injury cost him the second half of this season.
“What gets us most excited is that the future of Central College wrestling looks unbelievably bright,” Van Kley said. “We have phenomenal support from alumni and families. We couldn’t be more excited about what we have coming down the pie.”