Nov. 6, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. - The Stanford wrestling team hosts No. 17 Northwestern for its season opener on Sunday, Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. The two squads will meet in a one-of-a-kind outdoor event held at the Taube Tennis Center on the Stanford campus.
The following is the 2010-11 season outlook, including a closer look at all 10 weight classes.
The Stanford wrestling team returns five NCAA qualifiers in 2010-11, marking the most entering a season in school history. Under the guidance of third-year head coach Jason Borrelli, Stanford will continue to be a regional and national contender while producing some of the top wrestlers in the nation.
Last season, Stanford won 10 duals, tying for the third-best mark in program history. The Cardinal generated three top-three place winners at the Pac-10 Championships and sent four wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in Omaha, Neb. Additionally, Stanford produced its first conference champion and NCAA All-American, Nick Amuchastegui, since 2008.
Among Stanford's seven returning starters are five NCAA qualifiers - seniors Lucas Espericueta, Zack Giesen and Justin Paulsen, Amuchastegui, a junior, and sophomore Ryan Mango. The group has combined to win 11 NCAA Tournament matches and an All-America honor. Amuchastegui's fourth-place finish in 2010 tied for the second-best mark in school history and was the highest finish by a Stanford wrestler since former Cardinal and assistant coach Matt Gentry's NCAA title in 2004.
"I am very excited about this season," said Borrelli. "I think we ended in a good place last year with the performance we had at the national tournament. Having five returning NCAA qualifiers is exciting and leads to high expectations for the year."
Stanford will depend on its veterans to provide experience and leadership for the team during the upcoming season. Giesen's 92 career wins already ranks in the top-10 in school history and the senior is on pace to finish his time on The Farm in the top-five. Amuchastegui led the team last year with 34 wins, including a 17-1 mark in dual competition, while Mango's 25 wins as a freshman tied for the fifth-best by a rookie in Cardinal history.
"All of the veterans lead in different ways," said Borrelli. "Ryan Mango is a pretty vocal leader. I think last year he was quieter because he was young, but this year he seems to be taking on more of an outspoken role, which is great. Nick is the quiet guy who goes about business, but can be vocal as well. I think all five of them are definitely bringing the team up which is exciting because now the young guys have someone to look up to and wrestle against in practice everyday. It makes the entire team better."
In addition to the five NCAA qualifiers, two other 2010 Pac-10 place winners return for Stanford - sophomore 157-pounder Bret Baumbach and senior heavyweight Dylan Rush. Baumbach finished with 10 wins in his rookie season, while Rush picked up five victories in his first season of collegiate wrestling.
"We have set the bar pretty high for this season," explained Borrelli. "We'd like to break the school record in terms of nationals and send at least six guys to the NCAA Tournament. Our goal is to be top-10 in the country and bring home a team trophy, which would be top-five."
The Cardinal also boasts a talented recruiting class of seven freshmen who should all vie for time in the line-up in 2010-11. Three of the seven newcomers were state champions, including Luke Amuchastegui (Oregon), the younger brother of Stanford junior All-American Nick Amuchastegui, Galen McCleary (Hawai'i) and Dan Scherer (Missouri). Additionally, the new faces on the Cardinal roster include Donovan Halpin (Petaluma, Calif.), Garrett Schaner (Big Rapids, Mich.), Matt Schneider (Atlanta, Ga.) and Alan Yen (Saratoga, Calif.).
"All seven of the freshmen are very hard workers," stated Borrelli. "I think they could all be huge contributors. Some of them could definitely be in the lineup this year. We are really excited about this group and the competition they will bring to our team everyday in practice."
Borrelli added a new assistant coach, Alex Tirapelle, in the offseason to replace Matt Gentry. Tirapelle, a former standout at the University of Illinois, joins the staff after spending two seasons as an assistant at UC Davis. Along with current assistants Ray Blake and Vic Moreno, Tirapelle will have a hand in several aspects of the program and will help guide and develop the Cardinal this season.
The coaching staff will be challenged to lead the team through a difficult schedule in 2010-11, as the Cardinal will wrestle in 19 duals and compete in some of the nation's most competitive collegiate tournaments. The regular-season dual schedule includes seven opposing teams ranked in the pre-season top-25 NWCA Coaches Poll. The team opens the season on November 7 with a one-of-a-kind outdoor dual against Northwestern at the Taube Tennis Center on the Stanford campus. In December, the Cardinal will compete at the Reno Tournament of Champions and the prestigious Midlands Tournament at Northwestern University. In January, Stanford will travel to Dallas for the Lone Star Duals before taking on the heart of its Pac-10 schedule. The team will participate at the 2011 Pac-10 Championship in Corvallis, Ore., at the end of February. A strong showing at the conference meet will qualify individuals for the NCAA Championships held in Philadelphia, Pa., from March 17-19, 2011.
"We start the season and home and I think everyone is really excited for the dual against Northwestern," said Borrelli. "Our schedule is tough. I think as far as depth of our competition goes, this year's schedule may be one of the best we've had in a long time."
Following is a look at the 2010-11 Cardinal by weight class:
Stanford returns sophomore NCAA qualifier Ryan Mango at 125 pounds. The St. Louis, Mo., native gained valuable experience during his first collegiate season, winning 25 matches and finishing third at his first conference championships. He was third on the team last season in wins and dual points and enters his sophomore season ranked in the top-15 nationally. Redshirt sophomore Matt Sencenbaugh will challenge Mango for mat time this season. The Auburn, Wash., native was a Pac-10 place winner during his rookie season two years ago and tied for the team lead with four pins while wrestling unattached a year ago. Redshirt junior Austin Quarles has also been consistent at 125 pounds and will vie to see more action at this weight class this season.
Senior Justin Paulsen, who is coming off his first trip to the NCAA Championships, enters his final year on The Farm as the only 133-pounder on the Cardinal roster. The Artesia, Calif., native turned in his most successful season-to-date in 2009-10. He finished fourth on the team with 24 wins and led the squad with five technical fall victories last year. His fifth-place finish at the 2010 Pac-10 championships automatically qualified him for the NCAA Tournament and the senior will look to get back there this season.
The 141-pound spot in this season's line-up is up for grabs after last year's starter, Bret Baumbach, has moved up two weight classes. Redshirt freshman Jordan Gray will likely begin the season as the starter. The Essex Junction, Vt., native redshirted his first season on The Farm and competed in two tournaments while wrestling unattached. He will be challenged by two incoming freshmen - Donovan Halpin and Galen McCleary. Halpin comes to Stanford from Petaluma, Calif., where he was a two-time team MVP and a state qualifier as a senior at Casa Grande High School. McCleary is a three-time MVP and conference champion who placed third at the Hawai'i state championships as a junior before capturing the state title as a senior in 2010.
Redshirt sophomore Timmy Boone will likely begin the 2010-11 season as the starter at 149 pounds. He competed unattached at the Fullerton Open last year, posting a 7-2 record which included two falls, two technical falls and two major decision victories. True freshman Matt Schneider will challenge Boone for time in the line-up this season. Schneider, who hails from Atlanta, is a three-time state qualifier who finished runner-up as a junior. He went 82-4 during his final two years at Milton High School and holds the record for most career technical falls and takedowns.
Stanford returns several veterans in one of its deepest weight classes, including two wrestlers who were in the starting lineup last season. Sophomore Mike Kent has the most experience at 157 pounds as he moved up mid-way through last season to fill in for an injured Lucas Espericueta. Sophomore Bret Baumbach, last year's starter at 141 pounds, will also see time at 157 pounds, moving up two weight classes from his rookie season. The Council Bluffs, Iowa native tallied 10 wins last year and placed eighth at the Pac-10 Championships. Redshirt Freshman Sam Umlauf will also be in contention to compete at 157 pounds and will be challenged by a pair of true freshmen - Luke Amuchastegui and Garrett Schaner. Amuchastegui comes to The Farm from Phoenix High School where he was undefeated as a senior and captured the Oregon state title. Schaner hails from Big Rapids, Mich., where he was a three-time conference champion and two-time team MVP.
Returning NCAA qualifier Lucas Espericueta will begin the 2010-11 season as the team's starter at 165 pounds. Moving up from 157 pounds, the Shafter, Calif., native posted 18 wins last season, including 11 in a row, but sat out a portion of the season due to injury. He competed at the Pac-10 Championships in late February, placing fifth at 157 pounds. He will be challenged for time by sophomore Kyler Hasson and redshirt freshman Kyle Meyer. Hasson gained experience last year competing at three tournaments and two dual meets. Meyer participated in three tournaments during his redshirt season, placing second at the California Collegiates in late January.
Returning All-American Nick Amuchastegui will move up to a new weight class for his junior season. The Talent, Ore., native led the team last year with 34 wins, including a 17-1 mark in dual competition. He captured the Cardinal's first Pac-10 title since 2008 and made his second appearance at the NCAA Championships. He posted a 4-2 record at he NCAA Tournament in Omaha, Neb., to take home fourth place at 165 pounds and garner his first All-America honors. He enters the 2010-11 season ranked sixth nationally and will make a run at his third consecutive postseason appearance.
With senior Zack Giesen moving up a weight class for his final year on The Farm, the starting 184 pound spot is up for grabs. Sophomore Spence Patrick and true freshman Dan Scherer will battle for the spot in the lineup. Patrick has one year of collegiate experience, registering 11 wins as a redshirt freshman last year. He was 4-1 at the Fullerton Open in November and placed third at the California Collegiate tournament in late January. Scherer comes to Stanford from St. Louis, Mo., where we went undefeated and won the state title as a senior. He holds several records at his high school, including most wins in a season, most pins in a season and career wins.
Senior Zack Giesen will claim the starting spot at 197 pounds for the Cardinal this season. He enters the season ranked 11th nationally after posting 32 wins a year ago. He placed third at the Pac-10 Championships and earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament, where he posted a 2-2 record. The Grants Pass, Ore., native entered Stanford's top-10 last season for career wins and will look to end his career in the top-5. He will compete in practice this season with true freshman Alan Yen. A Saratoga, Calif., native, Yen was a four-year letterwinner at Saratoga High School and advanced to the state qualifier as a junior.
The Cardinal will look to senior Dylan Rush to stay healthy this season in order to field a full team at dual competitions. Rush tallied five wins last season, but sat out the final eight duals with an injury. He picked up four dual wins and ended his first season on The Farm with an eighth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships.