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Luke Smith sheds interim tag, named Head Wrestling Coach at CSU Bakersfield

by Cal State Bakersfield Athletic s

Photo of Luke Smith by David Dennis/All-Star Sports Photography courtesy CSU Bakersfield Athletics.

Bakersfield, Calif. – CSU Bakersfield Director of Athletics and AVP of Student Affairs Dr. Kenneth 'Ziggy' Siegfried has announced the hiring of Luke Smith as the department's head wrestling coach. Smith served as the program's interim head coach during an abbreviated 2020-21 season and was the Roadrunner's lead assistant for two seasons under Manny Rivera.

"Luke did an excellent job guiding our wrestling student-athletes through a tumultuous season," said Siegfried. "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."

Chance Rich, Angelo Martinoni and Dominic Ducharme all reached the 2021 NCAA Championship Tournament under Smith's tutelage, as the `Runners sent a wrestler to the National Event for the 47th-consecutive season. Rich won three times in St. Louis and finished just one win shy of All-American Honors in the 133 lb weight class.

Ducharme earned his bid to the tournament by winning the Pac-12 Championship at 184 lbs. Rich was the conference runner-up at 133 lbs, while Martinoni placed third in the 141 lb bracket.

"I've been thoroughly impressed by Luke's leadership this season under unimaginable circumstances" said Senior Associate AD for External Affairs & Capital Projects Karen Langston. "He has more than proven himself over three years on our wrestling staff, and in particular this past year as our Interim Head Coach. Luke is highly regarded around the country and will undoubtedly build on the storied culture and success our wrestling program has enjoyed throughout its history. I am thrilled to see the interim tag removed from his title and for him to take the reins of CSUB Wrestling."

Prior to CSUB, Smith coached seven seasons at Eastern Michigan, including the last three as the program's top assistant. In his final season at EMU, he mentored a school-record five national qualifiers and the program's first All-American since 1999.

Smith also coached two seasons at Old Dominion, after starting his coaching career with a single season on the staff of his alma mater Central Michigan.


"I want to thank Dr. Siegfried, Karen Langston and the entire search committee for believing in my ability to lead the wrestling program at CSUB," Smith said. "I'd also like to thank my family for their support, as well as all the coaches and student-athletes, who have given me opportunities to do what I love over the past 13 seasons. I'm looking forward to continuing the rich tradition and culture of CSUB Wrestling, and work with our student-athletes, day in and day out, to represent a Bakersfield community that means so much to our program."

Smith was a four-time NCAA Qualifier as a student-athlete for the Chippewas and ranked as high as #4 in the country during his senior season at 125 lbs, leading CMU to a #2 National Ranking. Smith earned 2005 Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year honors and holds the record for the two fastest pins in CMU history at 0:11 and 0:13 seconds, respectively.

He graduated from Central Michigan in 2008, with a degree in Sports Management & Coaching.

Smith also boasts a pair of top-five finishes at United States' Team Trial competition in his career and was a two-time Wisconsin State Champion as a prep athlete.