STANFORD, Calif. - The 2013-14 Stanford wrestling team has high expectations for the upcoming season. With the return of two-time All-American Ryan Mango to the line-up and three additional returning NCAA qualifiers, the Cardinal is looking secure its first Pac-12 championship and qualify individuals for the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla. Under the guidance of sixth-year head coach Jason Borrelli, Stanford will challenge national contenders and continue to produce some of the top wrestlers in the nation this season.
“I am really excited for the upcoming season,” said Borrelli. “We are focusing on a year of firsts. We want to win our first conference championship. We want to send the most guys we’ve ever sent to nationals. We want to post the highest finish and produce a national champion, which hasn’t happened since 2004. Basically, our goal is to produce the best year Stanford wrestling has ever seen in a lot of areas.”
Last year, Stanford finished 6-16 in dual competition and fifth at the Pac-12 Championships in Tempe, Ariz. Bret Baumbach won his first Pac-12 title and earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. Joining Baumbach at nationals were Dan Scherer and Evan Silver. The Cardinal finished 38th overall at the championships.
This year’s team is practicing what Coach Borrelli refers to as being “Cardinal Caliber.” It is the core values of the team containing six key components – integrity, passion, attitude, hard work, sacrifice and team.
“We try to gear a message to the team each day that reflects a component of Cardinal Caliber,” explained Borrelli. “It makes it easy for our captains to lead this team because they know exactly what each guy should be doing and how they are supposed to be conducting themselves.
“It’s an great resource to go to and we can ask the guys, ‘Are you living the Cardinal Caliber lifestyle?’ and they know exactly what that means.”
Stanford named four team captains back in the spring. Seniors Bret Baumbach, Donovan Halpin, Ryan Mango and Dan Scherer will be looked upon to lead the team on and off the mat this season. Having Mango, who enters the season ranked No. 3 in the nation at 133 pounds by InterMat Wrestling, back in the line-up will provide a spark for the Cardinal this year.
“Winning a national championship is the goal Ryan Mango has set for himself,” said Borrelli. “We are 100 percent confident that he can do that. Further, his presence in our starting line-up is going to be huge. You know when you have that electrifying guy that can score a lot of points that will kick-start things for the entire team. And, not only will he perform well on the mat, but his vocal presence on the team will be felt as well.” Stanford welcomes seven newcomers to the squad this season who are competing at a high level and increasing the competitiveness and intensity of the entire team each day in practice. While the group might not be the vocal leaders on the team, they are competing at such a high level, forcing the rest of the team to step up its intensity.
“You could expect to see redshirt freshman Jim Wilson and Zach Nevills in the line-up this season, as well as other guys who redshirted last season,” stated Borrelli. “However, I wouldn’t rule out any of the true freshmen either.”
The coaching staff, which includes assistants Ray Blake, Alex Tirapelle and volunteer assistant Brandon Precin, will be challenged once again to lead the team through a tough dual meet schedule. The Cardinal will wrestle in 22 duals and compete in some of the nation's most competitive collegiate tournaments. The dual schedule includes 14 opponents ranked in the preseason team rankings on intermatwreslte.com.
Stanford’s home opener is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 2 with duals against Cal Baptist University and Menlo College. The Cardinal will also have the opportunity to host the 2014 Pac-12 Championships in Maples Pavilion on March 2. A strong showing at the conference meet will qualify individuals for the NCAA Championships held in Oklahoma City, Okla., from March 20-22, 2014.
“Our schedule is exciting this year,” said Borrelli. “Our home schedule ends much earlier than we would have liked as we are on the road the whole month of February, but thankfully we turn around and host the Pac-12 Championships in early March.
“I am so excited to host the conference tournament. We feel like we have a good team. We are setting out to win the conference so things are lining up where it will be a really fun event and have an awesome atmosphere.”