Oregon Wrestling Ready for Nationals

March 18, 2003

EUGENE - Three members of the Oregon wrestling team head to Kansas City this week for the 2003 NCAA Championships. Junior Jason Harless (133), senior Casey Hunt (141) and sophomore Shane Webster (174) will begin wrestling Thursday at the three-day tournament.

'This tournament is the best of the best,' head coach Chuck Kearney said. 'All the guys that are there are going to bring their best stuff.'

Oregon's only seeded wrestler at the tournament is Webster, who earned the No. 12 seed with his 28-5 record this season. Webster, also the No. 12-ranked wrestler in the country, will meet Cornell's Tyler Baier in the first round.

'Shane can't let that seed put pressure on him,' Kearney said. 'It's just another spot on the bracket. He will need to focus and take one match at a time.'

Webster, a native of Sams Valley, Ore., is coming off a second-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships in Boise, Idaho. At the tournament, Webster won his first two matches by major decision before losing in the finals to Arizona State's Curtis Owen, 3-1. Webster owns a 10-5 record overall against wrestlers in the field.

Harless and Hunt will have to make it through their brackets without being seeded. In the first round at 133, Harless will face Clarion's Rad Martinez, ranked No. 12 and leading the nation in wins at the weight class with a record of 37-8. Harless, a native of Bonanza, Ore., has a record of 4-9 against competitors in his bracket and an overall record of 17-13 this season.

At 141, Hunt draws the No. 6 seed, Mike Maney of Lock Haven. Maney is a returning All-American who finished eighth at the 2002 NCAA Championships. Hunt, who comes from Pendleton, Ore., has a 4-9 record against wrestlers in his draw, but several of the losses came in close decisions. Overall this season, Hunt has a record of 22-13.

'Upsets always happen at this tournament,' Kearney said. 'When our guys go against seeded wrestlers, they'll need to wrestle tough. Hopefully our guys can just get better as the tournament goes on.'

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