CLEVELAND, OHIO — It maybe didn’t go the way he dreamed, but Central College wrestler C.J. Pestano (senior, 125 pounds, Torrance, Calif.) rallied from an early defeat to become the second three-time All-American in program history Friday night at the NCAA Division III Championships.
After being upset by Ferdinand Mase (Ithaca College [N.Y.]) 6-5 in a pigtail match, the odds of becoming an All-American for the third time were certainly stacked against Pestano. He had to win a pigtail consolation match to even make it to Friday’s night session. He was able to do that by beating Nick Barbaria of Roger Williams University (R.I.) 5-0.
Opening the night session against Kordell Rush of Delaware Valley University (Pa.), Pestano grabbed a 7-4 decision. With a spot on the podium on the line and trailing No. 4 Peter Del Gallo (University of Southern Maine) 5-4, Pestano dug deep.
“He was trailing by one and got a takedown with seven seconds left to win and become a three-time All-American,” coach Eric Van Kley said. “He showed his resiliency today. There’s never an easy match here and he bounced back to rattle off three in a row. He’s a very special young man who’s carved legacy at Central College.”
The season came to a close for Jeremy Vester (junior, Oak Harbor, Wash.) in the morning session after he was defeated twice. In his opening match, the 165-pounder trailed No. 7 seed Taylor Shay of Roger Williams University (R.I.) 2-1 before a stunning late move resulted in Shay winning by fall. Vester dropped a 6-2 decision to Olivet College’s (Mich.) Tyler Grimsley in an elimination match.
At 174 pounds, Nathan Fritz (sophomore, Sigourney) was upended twice and eliminated from the tournament. He fell to No. 5 Jon Goetz of Wisconsin-Platteville in the first round, a 12-0 major decision. The consolation match went in favor of York College’s (Pa.) Joseph Sindoni 11-2.
“They both competed well overall,” “They had some tough draws. Getting their first national experience is great for them and it isomething they can really build on.”
As a team, Central is 35th with 4.5 team points. Wartburg College is in first with 76.5 points.
Pestano will wrestle in Session III starting Saturday at 10 a.m. (EST) in the consolation quarterfinals. The quest for third place begins with a rematch against Mase.
“Motivation will not be a problem for the first match in the morning,” Van Kley said. “We’re going to wrestle our best and hopefully get off to a good start to the day.”