Never in the history of a college basketball season..at least if I had to guess has the end of a season been such a relief. And catching up with coach Barnes and McCall earlier for one final press conference you can tell that their teams deserve the mental and physical rest from the toll of this past year.
Both basketball teams entered the Big West Championships last week with high hopes as both finished better than preseason projections. Yet following bye weeks and the certain adversities throughout the season, it caught up to the 'Runners in their tourney debuts for their new conference as both bowed out in the quarterfinals.
While the goal is always to win especially in the postseason their head coaches detail the sense of relief of making it through the season at all.
"For our teams for each other. And for, for the university, you know, it was important for us to not only just compete, but being able to do it with help and the right safety protocols, but they also represent our problems. Well, and that's a lot of stress," said CSUB men's basketball coach Rod Barnes.
"I was just happy to be able to get to the tournament, had a scare at the tournament and think we were going to play the first game and we got that game in and so just being able to get through it is just a huge, huge relief. It's hard to explain. It's hard to describe but it's just a huge relief to be able to say, I was able to carry a group of young ladies through this but without them being patient and being understanding, it wouldn't have happened," echoed CSUB women's basketball coach Greg McCall.
While the basketball programs wrapped up their season the wrestling program still has three athletes headed to st. Louis for the NCAA Championships set to begin on Thursday. PAC-12 champ at 184 Dominic Ducharme earned the no. 21 seeding and will meet no. 12 Nelson Brands in the first round. Ducharme is a perfect 5-0 this season.
At 141, Angelo Martinoni is the no. 27 seed and will take on no. 6 Allan Hart. He is 4-1 on the year.
And rounding them out is Chance Rich at 133 who earned an at-large bid as the no. 19 seed. He'll take on no. 14 Zach Price to open the tournament.
While the history of Bakersfield in the national tourney runs deep - 48 straight years with 45 'Runners earning All-American honors - these wrestlers continue to compete with a chip on their shoulder and their city on their backs.
"Some people might look at as underdogs and things like that but me personally, I just want to represent my university and my team and myself to the best of my abilities," said Ducharme. "I can so that's kind of what goes through my mind every match."
"I'm just ready to show everybody that you know, we're not just here out of luck. You know I'm going to come there and I'm going to get on that podium and I'm aiming for a national title and that's always the goal. You know nothing changes," said Chance Rich. "It's got to go out there, have fun, you know, do my coaches tell me and, you know, that's it."
The NCAAs begin on Thursday morning and conclude Saturday night.