BAKERSFIELD, Calif.- CSU Bakersfield director of athletics Kenneth “Ziggy” Siegfried has announced the successful completion of the national search and the hiring of former University of Minnesota All-American Manny Rivera as head wrestling coach at CSUB.
Rivera, a four-time letter winner at Minnesota and member of the 2007 NCAA National Championship team, has been the lead assistant at Big-12-member North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. for the last five years. Rivera becomes just the fourth head coach all-time for CSUB, replacing Mike Mendoza who took over as head coach at Boise State last month.
“Our goal in this national search was to find an individual who would continue to build on our strong wrestling tradition, while embracing our department's vision of promoting academic excellence, providing an outstanding student-athlete experience, pursuing competitive success, and engaging the Bakersfield community. I am thrilled to say we have found that person in coach Manny Rivera,” Siegfried said. “I want to commend our wrestling sport supervisor and associate athletics director Karen Langston for her efforts in leading this search.”
Rivera, a native of El Monte, Calif., will be returning to his home state to lead the Roadrunners, a team that finished with a Pac-12 best 4-1 record last season in dual competitions and sent five student-athletes to the NCAA Nationals in New York.
“As a product of California and having wrestled there I am looking forward to getting back and working in the state,” Rivera said. “The wrestlers in California are phenomenal and I look forward to working with them.”
As an assistant coach, Rivera assisted two NCAA All-Americans and 11 NCAA National qualifiers during his five seasons at NDSU. The Bison also won the 2015 Western Wrestling Conference dual and tournament championships while finishing in the Top-25. Prior to that, he coached at the University of Virginia and was a graduate assistant at his alma mater Minnesota while earning his Master’s Degree in Sports Management from 2008-2010.
Rivera says a familiarity with the wrestling history at CSUB was one of the main attractions to this position.
“For me it’s been a goal to run my own program and be the head coach, specifically at CSUB,” he said. “I grew up just a couple hours away so I am familiar with the tradition, it’s strong and I know the support for the program from the community, the alumni and administration is hard to beat and its some of the best that I’ve seen.”
While a graduate assistant for the Gophers, he also served as the assistant director at the School of Champions, a wrestling training program for junior high and high school students. Additionally, he was a volunteer wrestling coach at Rosemead High School.
“Coach Rivera is a great addition to the CSUB staff and his experience will provide outstanding leadership for our student-athletes,” Langston said. “He has competed and coached at a high level and our student athletes will benefit greatly from that. I'd like to thank the community supporters who served on the search committee for their contributions throughout the process and I'd like to recognize our wresting team members for their patience and professionalism as we completed the search.”
As well as coaching, Rivera brings several accolades as a grappler himself, he was a three-time NCAA qualifier at Minnesota and earned All-America honors as a senior after finishing seventh at 141 pounds at the NCAA Championships. He was also a starter on Minnesota’s 2007 national championship team. He finished his career with a record of 113-40 and 27 pins and was team captain as a senior.
Now as a head coach Rivera hopes to instill what made him successful on the mat into the student-athletes he will be coaching at CSUB with an approach based around toughness.
“I’m pretty old school and I want to have some of the toughest guys out there when they step on the line,” he said. “We’re going to be aggressive and it doesn’t matter who we are wrestling, we’re going to be tough and it’s going to be a dogfight.”
Rivera will officially be introduced at a community reception next week following his arrival in Bakersfield and completion of the hiring process.
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