STANFORD, Calif. - The Stanford wrestling team celebrated arguably the best season in program history at its annual awards banquet at the Stanford Stadium Skybox on Saturday night. The Cardinal recognized numerous wrestlers with team awards and bid farewell to its six seniors – Bret Baumbach, Donovan Halpin, Ryan Mango, Kyle Meyer, Dan Scherer and Alan Yen.
After going 6-16 last season, Stanford was 17-5 in 2013-14, breaking a 39-year-old record for wins in a season. The Cardinal defeated eight teams that it had lost to last season and produced a program-best four conference champions in Mango, Scherer, sophomore Evan Silver and redshirt freshman Jim Wilson.
Under the direction of sixth-year head coach Jason Borrelli, Stanford tied for its best finish at the conference championship (second) and tied a program-record with five wrestlers qualifying for the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Mango and Scherer shared the Vern Jones Outstanding Wrestler award, given to the wrestler(s) that made the most outstanding athletic contribution to the accomplishment of the team. Mango also took home Most Dominant Wrestler honors for having the highest winning percentage and scoring the most bonus points during the season.
Both St. Louis, Mo., natives, Mango went 30-5 on the year at 133 pounds with 10 major decisions, two falls and a technical fall, while Scherer was 21-4 overall at 197 pounds with five pins. Mango became the fifth two-time conference champion in school history and finished his career fifth on the all-time wins list (111). He was also just the fifth two-time All-American in program history. Scherer captured his first Pac-12 title and was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the conference tournament.
Wilson was named the Outstanding Newcomer after posting one of the best rookie seasons by a Cardinal. He went 35-8, tying Matt Gentry, Stanford’s only NCAA champion, for the second-most wins by a freshman in school history. He won the Pac-12 title at 165 pounds, becoming the first Stanford freshman to win a conference crown since 1993, and was named the Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year. He opened the season with 15 consecutive victories, tying for the 10th-best winning streak in program history.
Most Improved went to Silver for the second straight year. He is only the sixth freshman or sophomore in school history to win a conference championship. The Chevy Chase, Md., native secured the 125-pound title for the Cardinal. He was 24-6 overall and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season.
The Coaches Award, given to the individual(s) who made the most significant contributions to the well-being of the team in terms of attitude, improvement, or special leadership, went to Baumbach, Yen and freshman Tommy Pawelski. Baumbach was 15-8, but had his year cut short with a career-ending knee injury suffered at Arizona State on Feb. 3. Yen (7-4) wrestled at multiple weights for the Cardinal throughout his career, always doing what was best for the team. Newcomer Pawelski saw significant time as Silver’s backup at 125 pounds. He tallied a 19-13 record in his rookie campaign.
Haplin received the BAGUBA Award, given to the wrestler that most exemplifies what the coaches look for in a Stanford wrestler. Although Borrelli will not reveal what BAGUBA stands for, Halpin’s journey from walk-on to co-captain has embodied everything it means to be Cardinal Caliber.
Ten wrestlers were recognized with the Tod Surmon Award for their outstanding performance at a home dual this season. The winners were as follows: Halpin (Cal Baptist), Yen (Menlo & Simpson), Maxwell Hvolbek (Maryland), Thomas Kimbrell (CSU Bakersfield), Wilson (Nebraska), Pawelski (Utah Valley), Josh Marchok (Chattanooga), Mango (Boise State) and Peter Russo (Oregon State).
Stanford wrestlers continued to excel in the classroom this year. Meyer garnered Outstanding Scholar-Athlete honors, given to the wrestler that best combines academics and athletics. He will graduate in June with a degree in psychology and holds a 3.55 GPA. A native of Monett, Mo., Meyer was 26-13 at 174 pounds and qualified for his first NCAA championships. His 26 wins were more than he had registered in his previous seasons with the Cardinal combined.
Stanford again led the conference with nine wrestlers earning Pac-12 All-Academic honors, five more than any other school. Joining Meyer on the first team was Scherer, while Halpin, Kimbrell, Hvolbek and Michael Sojka picked up second team accolades. Earning honorable mention honors were Mango, Marchok and Peter Galli.