OSU Wrestlers Head For Tournaments
Nov. 13, 2000
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18
Oregon State at Omaha Open, Omaha, Neb., all day
Oregon State at Southern Oregon Open, Ashland, Ore., all day
After nearly two months of internal battles in the Dale Thomas Wrestling Room, Oregon State finally gets the chance to meet some outside competition this week. Most of OSU's starting lineup will travel to the Omaha Open, while the rest of the Beavers will be going to the Southern Oregon Open.
Making the trip to Omaha will be 125-pounder Nathan Navarro, 133-pounder Ben Richards, 141-pounder Shane Cunanan, 157-pounder Eric Jorgensen, 165-pounder Jed Pennell, 174-pounder Nathan Coy, 184-pounder Isaac Weber, 197-pounder Jason Lovell and heavyweights Jason Cooley and Andy Bowlby.
Navarro, Richards, Jorgensen, Coy and Cooley are all nationally-ranked heading into the season and the Beavers are rated No. 19 in the country by InterMat. OSU has its sights set on moving up significantly by the end of the season.
With one of the nation's richest wrestling traditions, Oregon State's goals remain the same from year to year - win the Pacific-10 title and finish in the top five in the nation.
The past two seasons, OSU has put talented lineups on the mat but their youth meant inconsistency, keeping those aspirations beyond reach. Now, with a lineup of upperclasmen, the Beavers are intent on keeping their focus all the way to Iowa City and the 2001 NCAA Championships.
'I really feel that's a possibility,' OSU head coach Joe Wells said of the conference title and top-five finish. 'It's something we're going to have to work real hard for, take those steps and stay healthy, train like madmen and be prepared to succeed.
'We've got five or six or seven guys on this team that can be All-Americans. We just need to take the next step. We've been getting close, and we're real tired of getting close. I know that they're real determined this year to make that next step.'
Oregon State has proven commodities in Jorgensen, who was ranked as high as fourth nationally last season and competed in the NWCA All-Star Classic, and Cooley, who was ranked as high as seventh nationally and won the Pacific-10 championship.
A number of other Beavers - Richards, Navarro, Cunanan, Coy and Weber - are aiming to keep their performance at a national-caliber level from start to finish.
Last year, OSU's inconsistency was evident in the postseason. The Beavers placed a higher-than-expected third in the Pacific-10 meet and qualified six wrestlers for the NCAA Championships, then failed to win a first-round match and placed 36th.
That came on the heels of a regular season that saw the Beavers win seven straight duals at one point before finishing 10-7 overall and 6-3 in the Pacific-10. OSU returns 12 lettermen, including eight postseason starters. The Beavers will likely have at least seven juniors or seniors in the lineup, OSU hasn't had that many upperclassmen starting since the 1995 squad, which placed second nationally.
'As a young team, you can flounder,' said Wells, who is in his ninth year at OSU. 'Sometimes you do the right thing, and then sometimes you don't. At times last year, we had great performance, which is fairly typical of a young team. At other times, we fell flat on our face. So, with the age and experience, we hope that we get a more consistent and higher level of performance week-in and week-out.'
The Beavers' experience should also bring some leadership to the forefront.
'Our added directive for each of these guys is, `Hey, you need to step up and be the guy that wants to show everyone else on the team that this is how it's done',' Wells said. 'That's exactly what they were reluctant to do last year. A couple of them did it early, but as the season wore on they did it more reluctantly. They lost focus.'
The early signs have shown Wells that there's more determination to follow through this time around.
'There's no question,' Wells said. 'It's in all the little things. We've made a lot of changes in what's going on in the program in terms of specifically why we're doing what we're doing, and everybody seems to be up to speed all the time. As it improves, taking care of those little things reduces the unexpected outcomes, and we don't want any unexpected outcomes.'
Improving the consistency of results also means improving, period - making the adjustments to overcome your weaknesses.
'It's a matter of conditioning,' Wells said. 'More than that, it's a matter of mental toughness. It's doing those things, taking the responsibility for those elements and making those changes.
'They're all bright college kids and they all have the ability to make those adaptations, it's just being disciplined enough to incorporate those changes into their everyday practice and then using the match as an opportunity to prove they've made those changes. So we're just going to keep focusing in on making those changes - whether it's individual time, or looking at tapes and getting a clearer view of what we're trying to accomplish as an individual and focusing on how to prepare to be successful.'
A year ago, Wells felt Oregon State had greatly improved the competition for starting spots within its own Dale Thomas Wrestling Room. He's seen another jump in that department this season.
'No question about it,' Wells said. 'I've gotten indications from everybody on the staff. Andy (Dendas, strength coach) - in his introduction to the freshmen, they already knew what he was doing. They were already a lot more prepared to do what he's going to ask of them. They're a little more knowledgable.
'Part of it is, No. 1, competition in each weight class, and, No. 2, if we can't depend on the guy, we're going to go to someone we can depend on. We'll go with the guy who is going to get that job done. It's the guy who does it on Friday and Saturday night.'
The Beavers will need that push to reach their first goal - the Pacific-10 championship.
'I look across the conference and Arizona State is going to have a good group,' Wells said. 'Oregon has a couple guys back they didn't have a year ago, Boise State is going to have a good nucleus coming back, Cal State-Bakersfield has been strong ... it's going to be a dogfight. It's going to be great.
'We've just got to condition and work hard and overachieve, and we can dominate this conference - I really believe that.'
An ambitious schedule that includes the Omaha Open, Las Vegas Classic and Midlands Open and non-league duals against Iowa, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will aid in OSU's preparations.
'We've got a couple opportunities this year that we haven't had in previous years,' Wells said. 'From Christmas to the Pac-10 meet, we've got a pretty solid week-in, week-out schedule. We'll have the opportunity to meet some guys who are good, guys who we're going to have to beat at the national tournament so we will be ready.'
OREGON STATE LINEUP: (Records are from 1999-2000 season, rankings are 2000-01 preseason Amateur Wrestling News, InterMat poll)
125: Nathan Navarro, jr., Ontario, Ore. (Ontario HS), 22-14 record with 2 pins, No. 8 AWN, No. 9 IM
133: Ben Richards, sr., Salem, Ore. (South Salem HS), 17-13 record with 3 pins, No. 18 AWN
141: Shane Cunanan, so., Spokane, Wash. (Central Valley HS), 15-16 record with 4 pins
149: Paul Barron, sr., Myrtle Point, Ore. (Myrtle Point HS), 1-2 with 0 pins
157: Eric Jorgensen, sr., La Grande, Ore. (La Grande HS), 29-6 record with 5 pins, No. 12 AWN, No. 9 IM
165: Jed Pennell, fr., Cave Junction, Ore. (Illinois Valley HS), 0-0 record
174: Nathan Coy, jr., Oregon City, Ore. (Oregon City HS), 21-13 record with 0 pins, No. 13 AWN, No. 14 IM
184: Isaac Weber, jr., Newberg, Ore. (Newberg HS), 10-9 record with 1 pin
197: Jason Lovell, so., Turner, Ore. (Cascade HS), 5-8 record with 0 pins
Hwt.: Jason Cooley, jr., Anchorage, Alaska (Robert Service HS), 25-8 record with 2 pins, No. 8 AWN, No. 9 IM
1999-2000 IN REVIEW: Oregon State had its share of highlights, but the Beavers (10-7 overall duals, 6-3 Pacific-10 duals) went through the campaign with an eye toward the future. OSU, which placed third in the Pacific-10 Championships and 36th in the NCAA Championships, had just 1 senior on its roster as the Beavers gained experience that should pay off in coming years.
'I thought we wrestled very well at times during the year,' OSU head coach Joe Wells said. 'With a young group, we did a great job throughout the season. Fifteen kids had varsity matches, so that's good. In 2001, we'll probably have 22 or 23 guys fighting for a starting spot, and that's better. And they're all going to have a year's experience.'
OSU had a 7-meet winning streak in January and then placed a higher-than-expected third at the Pacific-10 meet in February. That raised the bar for the 6 Beavers who qualified for the NCAA meet in March, but Oregon State was blanked in the first round to start a disappointing tournament. Every OSU wrestler won at least 1 match, but none earned All-America honors.
'We may have overachieved a bit at the Pacific-10 Championships, qualifying 6 guys and winning some matches and putting a couple of young guys in the finals,' Wells said. 'Then we just didn't put it together at nationals at all after having 2 kids seeded (Eric Jorgensen, sixth at 157 pounds, Jason Cooley, seventh at heavyweight) and the potential of 2 or 3 others breaking into All-America status ...
'But overall, we grew and developed and improved. It was just that we didn't put it together at the national tournament, and that was very disappointing.'
The peaks and valleys OSU experienced were all part of the growing process.
'A big part of it is being able to sustain that competitive level for a long time and all through the season,' Wells said. 'At times, we looked really good, at other times, we just didn't meet the competition very well. That is a function, somewhat, of age and experience.'
OREGON STATE HEAD COACH JOE WELLS: Joe Wells is in his ninth season as Oregon State's head coach. Since Wells took over prior to the 1992-93 season, OSU has a 91-53-1 career dual meet record at OSU.
The Beavers were Pacific-10 Conference champions under Wells in 1994 and he has twice been named the conference's Coach of the Year. OSU has finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships four times in Wells' tenure, tying for ninth place in 1998 and placing eighth in 1996, second in 1995 and fourth in 1994.
Under Wells, OSU has had two national champions, 15 All-Americans and 16 conference champions.
Wells was named the ASICS Oregon Wrestling Classic's Man of the Year for 1998 for his contributions to wrestling in the state.
Wells, who has coached numerous World Teams for the United States, is a 1972 Iowa graduate. He was a two-time placer at the Big Ten meet and the 1976 U.S. Wrestling Federation freestyle champ. He spent 17 seasons as an assistant coach at Iowa and Michigan before coming to Oregon State.
OREGON STATE SECOND IN ALL-TIME DUAL MEET WINS: OSU rates as one of the best dual meet teams in collegiate wrestling history. The Beavers were second in all-time dual meet wins among Division I schools and fourth in all-time dual meet winning percentage going into the 2000-01 season. OSU currently has an all-time dual meet record of 825-246-24 and a .764 winning percentage.
OREGON STATE'S DUAL MEET SCHEDULE: OSU will face one of the nation's toughest dual meet schedules. The Beavers will meet 8 teams ranked in Amateur Wrestling News' preseason top 20, including 5 teams in the AWN top 10: No. 1 Iowa, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 10 Arizona State, No. 11 Boise State, No. 16 Fresno State and No. 19 Ohio State.
BEAVERS WITH TEAM BONUS POINTS: Oregon State tracks how well wrestlers earn team bonus points - that is, extra points for wins by major decision, technical fall, pin, injury default or forfeit. Here are the 1999-2000 numbers for OSU's returning postseason starters:
Eric Jorgensen, jr. (157) 60% (21 of 35)Nathan Coy, so. (174) 35% (12 of 34)Jason Cooley, so. (HWT) 30% (10 of 33)Ben Richards, jr. (133) 27% (8 of 30)Nathan Navarro, fr. (125) 22% (8 of 36)Shane Cunanan, fr. (141) 16% (5 of 31)Jason Lovell, fr. (197) 8% (1 of 13)
OREGON STATE IN GILL COLISEUM: Oregon State has one of the finest homes in college wrestling, 10,400-seat Gill Coliseum. In 44 seasons in Gill Coliseum, the Beavers have a home dual meet record of 339-60-6 for a winning percentage of .844.
OSU moved its home wrestling meets into Gill Coliseum in 1956-57, when Dale Thomas became head coach. Since then, the arena has hosted conference championship meets 13 times and it was the site of the NCAA Championships in 1961 and 1980.
For the past several years, Oregon State has averaged over 900 fans per dual meet at Gill Coliseum. That includes crowds of over 2,200 for each of the last 2 home Civil War duals against Oregon.
OREGON STATE WRESTLING TICKETS: All Oregon State wrestling tickets are sold on a general admission basis. They are $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens (age 62 and over) and students (high school and under). OSU students are admitted free with an all-sports pass or for $1 with their OSU student identification card.
Local Bi-Mart stores have coupons good for 2 admissions for the price of 1 adult admission for all OSU home wrestling meets.
Wrestling is also part of the OSU 7-Sport Pass, which is good for general admission seating at all home contests in wrestling, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, women's basketball and baseball. The 7-Sport Pass is $130 for a family pass that admits 2 adults and 2 children, $80 for an adult pass, and $60 for a senior citizen or student pass.
BEAVERS ON TELEVISION: OSU will have a pair of dual meets televised by Fox Sports Net on a tape-delayed basis this winter. The Beavers' dual meet at Oregon on Dec. 13 and the home dual against Iowa on Jan. 6 will be shown on dates to be announced.
OREGON STATE SPORTS INFORMATION OFFICE: Oregon State wrestling information can be obtained from Kip Carlson in the OSU sports information office at (541) 737-7472. Regularly-updated information is posted on the Beavers' athletic department website at: www.osubeavers.com
OREGON STATE IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: Here's where the Beavers have ranked nationally this season:
TEAMAmateur Wrestling News InterMatPreseason NR Preseason 19thNational Wrestling Coaches AssociationTBANATHAN NAVARRO, 125Amateur Wrestling News InterMatPreseason 8th Preseason 9thBEN RICHARDS, 133Amateur Wrestling News InterMatPreseason 18th Preseason NRERIC JORGENSEN, 157Amateur Wrestling News InterMatPreseason 12th Preseason 9thNATHAN COY, 174Amateur Wrestling News InterMatPreseason 13th Preseason 14thJASON COOLEY, HWTAmateur Wrestling News InterMatPreseason 8th Preseason 9th
NATHAN NAVARRO, 125 POUNDS: Junior Nathan Navarro (Ontario, Ore./Ontario HS) is in his third season in the OSU lineup... in the preseason rankings, No. 8 by AWN, No. 9 by IM ... career, 46-32 with 7 pins, team bonus points in 28 percent of matches (22 of 78) ... last season, placed fourth in Pacific-10 Conference at 125 pounds, NCAA qualifier ... 7 losses to nationally-ranked wrestlers ... won 13 of last 18 matches and 15 of last 23 ... ranked as high as No. 16 nationally ... this season, 'He obviously has another year of experience,' OSU head coach Joe Wells said. 'He's got great quickness, he just has to finish his techniques and he's ready to step up and be one of the leaders ... Nathan needs to wrestle in all three positions. He needs to put pressure on the guy in the top position. He's a takedown guy, but he can put people on his back. He used to put people on his back in high school and he hasn't really attempted to do that in college. He needs to put someone on their back and take them out of the match and score those bonus points.'
BEN RICHARDS, 133 POUNDS: Senior Ben Richards (Salem, Ore./South Salem HS) is in his fourth season in the OSU lineup ... in the preseason rankings, No. 8 by AWN ... career, 48-40 with 8 pins, team bonus points in 28 percent of matches (25 of 88)... last season, placed third in Pacific-10 Conference at 133 pounds, NCAA qualifier ... 17-13 with 3 pins, team bonus points in 27 percent of matches (8 of 30) ... 9 losses were to nationally-ranked wrestlers, also had 2 wins over nationally-ranked wrestlers ... missed much of second half of season due to injury ... ranked as high as 16th nationally ... this season, 'Ben is very good on top and likes to put people on their back and punish them,' OSU head coach Joe Wells said. 'He's got a style where he wants to keep the pressure on the guy. He needs to pick his shots better, he needs to choose his positions better. He's kind of a warrior, but at times he makes poor decisions. He needs better decision-making process in his selection in wrestling ... He's really a determined guy. He's stayed relatively healthy except for last year, and that got in the way of him finishing the way he could have. He's going to have some guys in his weight class who will present more of a challenge for him (within OSU's squad), so it will be really good. There are a couple of young guys coming in who will be good for him.'
SHANE CUNANAN, 141 POUNDS: Freshman Shane Cunanan (Spokane, Wash./Central Valley HS) is in his second season in the OSU lineup ... career, 15-22 with 4 pins, team bonus points in 11 percent of matches (4 of 37) ... last season, placed second in Pacific-10 Conference at 141 pounds, NCAA qualifier ... 15-16 with 4 pins, team bonus points in 16 percent of matches (5 of 31) ... 9 losses were to nationally-ranked wrestlers ... won 10 of last 15 matches ... this season, 'Shane was the most conscientious in terms of focusing in on how to improve,' OSU head coach Wells said. 'He took suggestions, he asked for suggestions from everybody. Essentially, each guy has to figure out what he does and how to make his things work. He's the first one in to watch his tape and look for suggestions on what to do. He's got good conditioning. I think if he improves on his conditioning and gets better with his selection, and becomes a little more sound basically, he's going to have a great year and be in the hunt for the title and All-America status ... He's growing into his weight class - he was a little small for the weight class but he's getting bigger and stronger. He's got real good tenacity and he puts a lot of pressure on the guy. He's real aggressive, so he's not afraid to get after it and push - that's a real positive. He's just got to translate that into effective movement. He isn't a guy who really does a lot of riding, he can get better on top, he can get better at putting people on their back. If he has a weakness, it's when somebody gets him in a bad situation, how to extricate himself and not giving up back points. But he'll go all day.'
ERIC JORGENSEN, 157 POUNDS: Senior Eric Jorgensen (La Grande, Ore./La Grande HS) is in his fourth season in the OSU lineup ... in the preseason rankings, No. 12 by AWN, No. 9 by IM ... career, 78-36 with 11 pins, team bonus points in 40 percent of matches (46 of 114) ... last season, placed second in Pacific-10 Conference at 157 pounds, NCAA qualifier ... 29-6 with 5 pins, team bonus points in 60 percent of matches (21 of 35) ... 3 losses were to nationally-ranked wrestlers ... competed in NWCA All-Star Meet ... ranked as high as No. 4 nationally ... this season, 'He just has to stay consistent,' OSU head coach Joe Wells said. 'He has to know how he's won in the past and what works for him, and get out there and get after it. He needs to do those extra things to give him the confidence that he's prepared - any extra workouts he likes to do, whether it's mountain biking or whatever ... He's come back in great shape and he's ready to go. He knows this is coming down to the wire and he's not going to miss out. He could be a national champion, there's no question in my mind. He's as good as anybody in the weight class. He majored or teched a couple of the All-Americans last year, and there's no reason he couldn't do that. He just has to get it in his mind that's what he's going to do, and he's not going to settle for less.'
NATHAN COY, 174 POUNDS: Junior Nathan Coy (Oregon City, Ore./Oregon City HS) is in his third season in the OSU lineup ... career, 28-26 with 1 pin, team bonus points in 22 percent of matches (12 of 54) ... last season, placed second in Pacific-10 Conference at 174 pounds, NCAA qualifier ... 21-13 with 0 pins, team bonus points in 35 percent of matches (11 of 34) ... 6 losses were to nationally-ranked wrestlers ... won 9 of last 13 matches and 13 of last 20 matches ... this season, 'He's lionhearted - he'll go after anybody,' OSU head coach Joe Wells said. 'He's ready to take a big step as a team leader and as a guy willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Technically, he needs to make some adjustments. He makes those somewhat slower - he's a little but stubborn in his attitude about changes. He just has to be a little more open, a little more trusting, a little more opportunistic to look and see what's working.'
ISAAC WEBER, 184 POUNDS: Junior Isaac Weber (Newberg, Ore./Newberg HS) is in his third season in the OSU lineup ... career, 19-29 with 2 pins, team bonus points in 6 percent of matches (3 of 48) ... last season, 10-9 with 1 pin, team bonus points in 11 percent of matches (2 of 19) ... 3 losses were to nationally-ranked wrestlers ... season ended by knee injury during practice week of Jan. 23 ... Pacific-10 All-Academic second team ... this season, 'Isaac beat a few of the top-ranked guys, he'll have the opportunity to wrestle some of those top guys early and in the middle of the season,' OSU head coach Joe Wells said. 'He's ready to take that next step. He's All-American, he's quality. He's stronger. He was a little small, and he's grown into the weight class. He needs to initiate a little more offense, and I think he can dominate.'
JASON LOVELL, 197 POUNDS: Sophomore Jason Lovell (Turner, Ore./Cascade HS) is in his second season in the OSU lineup ... career and last season, placed sixth in Pacific-10 Conference at 197 pounds .. 5-8 with 0 pins, team bonus points in 8 percent of matches (1 of 13) ... this season, 'He's very athletic, but somewhat undisciplined,' OSU head coach Joe Wells said. 'But he knows what he has to do, and now he's been through it. He understands that he didn't do nearly what he thought he could have last year. He knows that he can compete with these guys. He was very small for the weight class, he's somewhat larger this year ... But he's very athletic, very smooth, one of the most athletic kids on our team. He can do anything. He's got a great shot. He's fluid, very relaxed.'
JASON COOLEY, HEAVYWEIGHT: Junior Jason Cooley (Anchorage, Alaska/Robert Service HS) is in his second season in the OSU lineup ... in the preseason rankings, No. 8 by AWN, No. 9 by IM ... career, 30-10 with 2 pins, team bonus points in 33 percent of matches (13 of 40) ... last season, Pacific-10 Conference champion at heavyweight, NCAA qualifier ... 25-8 with 2 pins, team bonus points in 30 percent of matches (10 of 33) ... 3 losses were to nationally-ranked wrestlers ... won 14 of last 17 matches and 21 of last 28 ... this season, 'Jason Cooley is going to have a fight on his hands, I hope,' OSU head coach Joe Wells said. '(OSU teammate) Andy Bowlby might be the second-best kid in the conference. That's going to make both of them better all year long. Andy's got to step up and assert himself, and Cooley has no problem doing that. He's a leader, he's a self-directed guy, he's real take-charge, and he wants to do the job ... (Cooley) just needs to get a lot better on top. He could pin a lot of big heavyweights if he puts the heat on them. He needs to learn to be a lot more efficient pinner. He's got the power and the strength, and he needs to use those bar-arms and turn those big guys over. Once he gets through them and gets them down a couple times, working them over, putting them on their back and pinning them - he needs to do a lot better on that, taking more risks on top.'