As the news spread last week about former CSUB champion wrestler (and retired New England Patriots player) Stephen Neal being chosen for both the National and California 2012 Wrestling Halls of Fame, CSUB had even more to celebrate.
You see, Neal isn’t the only product of CSUB’s wrestling program to be honored in Hall of Fame style in 2012. The California Wrestling Hall of Fame is also inducting a former assistant wrestling coach and six former wrestlers from CSUB.
The wrestlers include Jessie Reyes, Paul Keysaw, Darryl Pope, Bill Van Worth, David East, and Bill Kalivas. The former coach is Lou Montano, who now serves as director of the Testing Center and the High School Equivalency Program at CSUB.
“It’s a really good class of individuals being inducted,” Montano said. “And I’m happy there are two former students athletes that I coached, Darryl Pope and Paul Keysaw. That’s what makes it very special.”
Montano is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he was a three-time Division I All-American and, after graduation, worked as an assistant coach from 1984-86. He then served as assistant coach at CSUB under coach T.J. Kerr from 1987-91 before taking a job as head wrestling coach at Columbia University in New York from 1991-2000. There, he was one of just two Columbia wrestling coaches to post multiple double-digit win seasons, according to the website for the Columbia Lions.
Montano made the personal decision to return to California to be near family and moved with his wife and son back to Bakersfield in 2000 to direct the High School Equivalency Program at CSUB. He later took on the Testing Center duties at CSUB as well.
“It’s amazing how everybody goes through chapters in life,” Montano said. “I’ve really enjoyed working at the university level for over 25 years, as a coach, teacher and administrator. I really enjoy working with students.”
Earlier this year, Montano led the grand opening of a new Testing Center at CSUB, which offers assessment, placement and admissions testing for both the campus community and the region. Last year, he helped to secure a five-year, $2.15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to administer the High School Equivalency Program, whose mission is to help people earn their GEDs and progress into higher education. He also mentors current CSUB student athletes who come to him for advice.
“I always emphasize at all levels that education is so important and it provides a better opportunity later in life,” Montano said.
Montano will join all inductees at the 2012 California Wrestling Hall of Fame Banquet to be held on May 12, 2012 at the Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center. For more information, visit www.californiawrestlinghalloffame.com. Also, read coverage of the story by The Bakersfield Californian and the Imperial Valley Press.