Rivera Steps Down, Smith Assumes Interim Role at CSU Bakersfield

Courtesy of CSU Bakersfield Athletics – Link

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The CSU Bakersfield Athletics Department has announced that Manny Rivera, Head Coach of the Roadrunner Wrestling team, will step down to pursue opportunities outside of coaching. Current assistant coach Luke Smith will take over as interim head coach, immediately, and Rivera will stay on through the end of October.

“We are very thankful to Coach Rivera for his four years of service to the `Runner wrestling program,” said Dr. Kenneth “Ziggy” Siegfried, CSUB’s Director of Athletics. “We wish Manny and Katie great success and happiness in their future endeavors.”

Rivera mentored four Pac-12 Conference champions an 15 NCAA Qualifiers during his tenure on campus, while winning 25 dual meets and leading the `Runners to three third-place finishes at the conference meet in four seasons.

“I am extremely excited about the future of the CSUB wrestling program,” Siegfried said. “Additionally, I have full confidence in the leadership of our Interim Head Coach, Luke Smith.”

Smith enters his third year on the coaching staff of the Bakersfield wrestling program, and his 13th-overall at the DI level. The former National Tournament qualifier’s familiarity with CSUB, `Runner student-athletes and current recruits will provide stability and consistency through this transition.

Smith served as an assistant for six seasons at Eastern Michigan University, before coming to Bakersfield for the 2018-19 season. Prior to his work with the Eagles, he spent two years each as the volunteer assistant with Old Dominion and Central Michigan.

A four-time NCAA qualifier at CMU, Smith ranked as high as fourth in the country at 125 pounds.  During his senior season, he led the Chippewas to a No. 2 national ranking, the highest in program history. He was named the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year after his first season in Mount Pleasant.

In 2004, Smith finished fourth at the USA Greco-Roman Olympic Trials. He placed fourth again at the 2006 Senior Freestyle World Team Trials and was eighth at the University Freestyle World Championships.

Another advantage Smith and CSUB Wrestling have is the experience of Senior Associate Athletics Director Karen Langston, who has been a member of the NCAA Wrestling Championship Committee since 2017 and is entering her third year as the Committee Chair. A strong combination of experience and support will ensure the success CSUB’s program has developed over nearly 50 years of competition continues under new leadership.

“Manny has been such an asset for our program,” Langston said of Rivera, “and he has continued the upward trajectory of the CSUB Wrestling program. He left our program in a better state than he found it and I want to thank him for that.”

Information on an upcoming search process will be announced at a later date.


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