Oct. 17, 2007
Stanford, Calif. - The Stanford wrestling team begins the 2007-08 season next week, with wrestle-offs set for Saturday, Oct. 27 at 2 p.m. Following is an outlook for the upcoming season.
Stanford wrestling has been making a steady climb over the past few years, reaching milestone after milestone as the program aims to establish itself as a national competitor and a regional powerhouse. In 2007-08, the Cardinal has everything it needs to be successful: a two-time Olympian head coach, two returning All-Americans, four returning NCAA qualifiers, eight returning starters and 17 eager newcomers. It doesn't get any better than this.
Two years ago, Kerry McCoy took the helm of the Stanford wrestling program and immediately began implementing a plan to take the Cardinal to the top. In his first season, he returned the program to its winning ways and helped it begin an ascent up the Pac-10 ladder. Last season, the team made even bigger leaps. Zack Giesen, one of McCoy's first recruits, stormed into the collegiate wrestling world and was named the conference's top freshman. Five Stanford wrestlers placed in the Pac-10 and all five earned a spot at the NCAA Championships. Tanner Gardner matched the school's single-season win record and claimed Stanford's first individual conference title since 2004. And for the first time in four decades, two Cardinal wrestlers earned All-American honors in the same season.
This year, McCoy and the athletes that made all of that happen are ready to pick up where they left off.
"I am very excited about this season," said McCoy. "On paper we have one of the best teams Stanford has ever had. We made huge strides last season and our guys have been working hard to improve on that. It's going to be a great year."
The promise for 2007-08 does not end with Stanford's strong foundation of returners. This year, McCoy has landed a freshman class that has combined for nine prep state titles. Moreover, he has added a pair of promising new assistant coaches to his staff, former Central Michigan standout Jason Borrelli and former Oregon State standout Matt Ellis. McCoy is confident that the new faces will be valuable additions to the program.
"I believe we have one of the best groups of newcomers you can ask for," said McCoy. "They are all committed to being the very best at everything they do and that goes along with what we want at Stanford. Our new assistants bring a lot of experience and knowledge to our program. Jason will focus on our light weights and Matt will be working with our upper-middle weights. The energy that they add is going to have a big impact on our success. "
Stanford begins the 2007-08 campaign in senior Tanner Gardner's home state of Kansas, meeting Fort Hays State for a dual meet on Nov. 9. The team will then compete in two tournaments, the Central Missouri State Open and the Fullerton Open, before taking on San Francisco State in San Francisco on Nov. 21.
The team will return to the Las Vegas Invitational, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, where two Stanford wrestlers placed in one of the most competitive fields in the nation last year. The Cardinal will also return to the Reno Tournament of Champions this season, which takes place Dec. 19.
The Cardinal heads east to start the new year, with four duals over three days in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Stanford will compete against Drexel, Lehigh, Princeton and East Stroudsburg University.
Pac-10 action begins on Jan. 18, when the Cardinal will take on Boise State and UC Davis at the UC Pavilion in Davis. Six days later, Stanford will look to defeat 2007 Pac-10 Championship runner-up Cal State Bakersfield, taking on the Roadrunners in its first home dual of the year. Just a day later, the Cardinal will face Menlo College and Portland State on home turf. Stanford continues conference action the first two weekends of February, taking on Oregon, defending Pac-10 Champion Oregon State, Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton on the road. The regular season concludes in Tempe, Ariz., when the Cardinal meets Arizona State.
This year's Pac-10 Championships will be hosted by the University of Oregon in Eugene, Mar. 2-3. The 2008 NCAA Championships will be held Mar. 20-22 in St. Louis, Mo.
"I have always believed in challenging our guys during the season to prepare them for the postseason," said McCoy. "This year is no different. We have a few teams on our schedule that are ranked nationally and we compete in some of the toughest tournaments in the nation. It's going to be tough, but it's going to make us better and help us reach our goals."
Following is a look at the 2007-08 Cardinal by weight class:
Two-time All-American Tanner Gardner will be the anchor of the 2007-08 team, returning for his fifth year with an arsenal of experience. Gardner has been to the NCAA Championships three times, and is the defending Pac-10 Champion. He became just the second two-time All-American in program history last season and is determined to become Stanford's first three-time All-American in March. He won a school record 42 matches in 2006-07 and became just the fourth wrestler in program history to join the 100 career win club. Yet, going into his final collegiate season, Gardner has just one goal in mind- an NCAA title. Consistently ranked among the nation's top-five last year, the Berryton, Kans. native and his coach know that he has the potential to become Stanford's second all-time NCAA Champion.
"Tanner is one of those special kids that you only see every few years," said McCoy. "He is truly the total package: a great person, a great student and a great wrestler. He has done everything possible to put himself in a position to become the most successful wrestler to ever put on a Stanford singlet. It's going to be bittersweet going through this season, because with all of the success he's going to have, it's going to be his last year."
Three 125-pound newcomers - Austin Quarles, Steve Scheele and Blair Matsuura - join Gardner on the Cardinal roster this season. The trio will have a chance to train with one of the nation's best and will provide much needed depth for the Cardinal at 125 pounds.
Christine Cunningham, who hopes to follow in the footsteps of Stanford's Olympic bronze medalist Patricia Miranda, may compete at 125 or 133, but will likely concentrate on wrestling freestyle and try to make the 2008 Olympic team. Joleen Oshiro, another female wrestler, will also compete for Stanford at 125 pounds.
Sophomore Cameron Teitelman is the returning starter at 133 pounds, and gained valuable experience last year during his first season on the college mats. The Calabasas, Calif. native won 11 matches and wrestled for the Cardinal at the Pac-10 Championships. Teitelman will not go unchallenged for his starting role, however. Teammate Justin Paulsen, who redshirted his first season on the Farm, has his eye on the 133-pound spot. Paulsen, a two-time California State Finalist and three-time placer, wrestled unattached in 12 matches last year and won nine of them. He took third at the California Collegiates in February and has showed a great deal of improvement in the off-season. Additionally, freshman Porfirio Madrigal, a four-time Sonoma League Champion from Healdsburg, Calif., will also compete for the spot at 133 pounds.
Sophomore Matt Kim, the Cardinal returning starter at 141 pounds, returns bigger and stronger than ever after a promising summer of training. Kim moved up from 133 pounds mid-season last year, won eight matches and competed for the Cardinal at the Pac-10 Championships. The West Linn, Ore. native will face a pair of challengers for his starting spot, however. Fellow sophomore Eric Minnick started for the Cardinal two years ago, and will look to win the spot back after redshirting last season. Newcomer Max Rosefigura, a two-time Alaska State Champion, is also in the hunt for the starting job, with hopes of making an immediate impact at the collegiate level.
Junior Tyler Parker is Stanford's returning starter at 149 pounds, but the Lawrenceville, Ga. native will likely redshirt this season, opening the spot up for a new face. Redshirt freshman Lucas Espericueta, who placed at the 2007 FILA Junior World Team Trials in May, has his eye on the vacant spot, as does newcomer Murdoch Miller, a State Champion from Idaho. Kyle Pubols, a 149-pounder who sat out his first two seasons with an injury, is healthy and eager to make an impact at the collegiate level. Sophomore Steven Frehn, who wrestled in seven duals for the Cardinal last season, will also be a contender for the spot.
Stanford has a long list of 157-pounders on the roster, headlined by All-American Josh Zupancic. As a junior in 2006-07, the Akron, Ohio native won 37 matches, not an easy feat considering 17 of his opponents were ranked. Zupancic's challenging regular-season paid off, however, and prepared him for a postseason surge. In the final weeks of the season, he claimed second place in the Pac-10, qualified for his first NCAA Championship and upended three seeded opponents on his way to a seventh place national finish and his first All-America honor. This year, Zupancic will pick up where he left off, looking to win his first Pac-10 title, head back to nationals and compete for an NCAA Championship.
"Josh has done a tremendous job while at Stanford," said McCoy. "His All-American run last season was considered amazing by most, but we knew he was more than capable. Now, with that experience and a great summer of training under his belt, he has his sights set on winning it all."
Stanford's list of other potential 157-pounders includes newcomers Trevor Stevens, Kenny White, Max Hawes, Marcus Henderson and Nick Amuchastegui. The talented fivesome will be part of a solid incoming class that will provide valuable depth for the Cardinal in the middle weights.
The field is wide open at 165 pounds this year, as a number of talented underclassmen will compete to fill the vacancy left by 2007 NCAA qualifier Brian Perry. The frontrunners include sophomore Peter Miller, who is back from two seasons of injury and eager to contribute, and freshman Kyle Anderson, a three-time state qualifier and 2007 Texas State Champion. Bobby Pease, a redshirt junior, and Kyle Barrett, another freshman, will also compete at 165 pounds this season.
Junior Luke Feist returns to his starting role at 174 pounds in 2007-08, coming off the most successful season of his career. As a sophomore in 2006-07, Feist won 25 matches and qualified for his first NCAA Championship. He wrestled nine ranked opponents, and got his first win over one when he stunned No. 11 Matt Palmer of Columbia in January. This year, Feist will look to improve on his fourth place conference finish, return to the national championship and earn his first All-American honor. Adding depth to the Cardinal roster at 174 pounds will be a pair of redshirt freshmen, Alex Muller and Anton Scherba. Both spent their first year on The Farm training and will now look to make an impact in their first season of collegiate competition.
At 184 pounds, sophomore Zack Giesen returns from an outstanding rookie campaign, looking to make an even bigger impact during his second season at the collegiate level. After etching his name on the Cardinal freshman win charts, the four-time Oregon State Champion, took second in the conference at 184 pounds, qualified for the NCAA Championships and was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. With confidence and a year of collegiate experience under his belt, Giesen has his sights set even higher this season. The Grants Pass, Ore. native aims to battle for the Pac-10 title, return to the NCAA Championships and join the list of Stanford's most accomplished wrestlers as an All-American.
The 197-pound slot is up for grabs this season, and two talented young wrestlers will compete to fill it. Sophomore Jake Johnson, who wrestled at three weight classes and won nine matches last year, is prepared to compete at 197 pounds this season. Freshman Matt Winterbourne, who won the Oregon State Championship as a high school senior in 2007, will battle Johnson for the spot and look to contribute in his first collegiate season.
Senior Phillip Doerner returns for his fifth year on The Farm, more ready than ever to make an impact as a heavyweight. Last season, Doerner earned the starting spot and placed at his first collegiate tournament in early November. He gained valuable experience with a tough schedule that included six ranked opponents, and ended the season on a high note. Doerner won his last two conference dual matches and three of his last five bouts. This year, Doerner will look to build on that late season momentum and contend for a conference championship. Mark Shughart, a program newcomer who has been a member of the Stanford track and field squad for the past three years, will bolster the Cardinal at the upper weights.