Feb. 13, 2008
Stanford, Calif. -
The Stanford wrestling team has one last tune-up this weekend before next month's Pac-10 Championships. The Cardinal (12-4, 5-3 Pac-10) will meet Arizona State on Sunday for its final dual meet, looking to cap its already landmark 12-win season with another win. The contest is set for noon on Sunday at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz.
Stanford is amidst one of its best seasons in program history, having already notched the highest win total in more than three decades. The Cardinal's 12 dual wins are the second-most in program history, topped only by the 15-win record set in 1974-75. Five wrestlers have already reached 20 wins this year, with two already hitting 30 wins. Eight Stanford starters are .500 or above on the season.
Leading the way is a pair of seniors who are currently ranked among the nation's top-10 in their respective weight classes and undefeated in dual matches. No. 6 Tanner Gardner is 34-1 at 125 pounds, and will be looking to equal the program's single-season pin record (18) against Arizona State. The two-time All-American needs just two more wins to match Matt Gentry's career win record. He is among the nation's top-three in both wins and pins, and leads the Pac-10 in both categories. No. 10 Josh Zupancic is 32-5 at 157 pounds, and is on a 13-bout winning streak.
In addition, sophomore Jake Johnson (197 pounds), sophomore Zack Giesen (184 pounds) and redshirt freshman Lucas Espericueta (149 pounds) have all posted 20 or more wins. The trio is a combined 35-9 in duals, and has racked up a combined 152 team points. Espericueta is tied for fifth nationally with 11 major decisions.
Arizona State finished fifth in the Pac-10 last year, and is 9-7 overall and 3-4 in the conference so far in 2008. The squad is led by its two ranked freshmen, 125-pounder Anthony Robles (No. 16) and 184-pounder Brent Chriswell (No. 15). Additionally, two of the Sun Devils' four 2007 NCAA qualifiers are back, 197-pound senior Jason Trulson and 165-pound senior Patrick Pitsch. Stanford wrestlers are 4-3 against Arizona State wrestlers this season.
Last year, the teams were tied going into the final bout, but the Sun Devils pulled through for a close 23-20 victory in the Ford Center. Luke Feist led the way for the Cardinal with a decisive technical fall, while Phillip Doerner came out on top in a critical bout at heavyweight.
Stanford will send ten wrestlers to the Pac-10 Championships in Eugene, Ore. next month. The Championships will be held at McArthur Court on the University of Oregon campus, Mar. 2-3. The top three finishers in each weight class and nine wildcard selections will qualify for the NCAA Championships, Mar. 20-22, in St. Louis, Mo.