Stanford Opens Pac-10 Season at UC Davis
Jan. 16, 2008
Stanford, Calif. - The Stanford wrestling team will begin its conference schedule this week, taking on the Boise State Broncos and the UC Davis Aggies at The Pavilion in Davis on Friday. Led by defending conference champion Tanner Gardner, the Cardinal will look to start the Pac-10 season with wins over two of the conference's toughest squads.
The Cardinal enters the Pac-10 season with one of its best preseason records in program history (6-1), and is coming off of its first shutout win in recent years. Gardner, a two-time All-American and the nation's sixth-ranked 125-pounder, leads the team with a 25-1 record, 40 dual points and 13 pins. Senior All-American Josh Zupancic is ranked 13th nationally at 157 pounds, and boasts a 23-5 record on the year.
A group of young wrestlers have also stepped up with impressive performances this year. Zack Giesen, the 2007 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, has notched a 16-5 record this season, while freshman 149-pounder Lucas Espericueta (17-7) and sophomore 197-pounder Jake Johnson (17-7) have already tallied 17 wins apiece.
The Cardinal will begin the night with a 5 p.m. dual against Boise State (4-1, 2-1 Pac-10). The Broncos finished ninth in the conference last season, but the team is considered to be one of the strongest in the league this year. Five Broncos are ranked among the top three in the conference, two are returning NCAA qualifiers and four are among the nation's current top-20.
The dual will be highlighted by the 157-pound bout, where two of the nation's best wrestlers will square off. Bronco junior Tyler Sherfey (18-5) is ranked No. 10 nationally and holds the No. 1 spot in the conference, while Zupancic is ranked 13th with the No. 3 spot in the league. Zupancic and Sherfey split a pair of decisions last December, and finished second and third, respectively, in the conference last season. Sherfey went 2-1 at the NCAA Championships, while Zupancic went 4-2 to earn his first career All-America honor.
The 174-pound bout will also be a showdown between 2007 NCAA qualifiers, as Stanford's Luke Feist (5-6) will meet Boise State's Nate Lee (7-3). Lee, who is currently top-ranked in the Pac-10, won two close decisions over Feist last year, including a 6-5 victory in the Pac-10 third place match.
In addition to Sherfey, three other Broncos are ranked nationally. The trio of newcomers includes No. 12 Adam Hall (18-5) at 149 pounds, No. 18 Kirk Swratz (18-6) at 165 pounds and No. 9 Kirk Smith (15-1) at 184 pounds.
The night will continue with a 7 p.m. dual between Stanford and UC Davis. The Aggies (3-1, 1-1 Pac-10) took third in the Pac-10 last year and return two of their five 2007 NCAA qualifiers. At 125 pounds, Gardner will battle the Broncos' Marcos Orozco (18-7), who finished third in the conference last year and went 1-2 at the NCAA Championships. Gardner bested Orozco in both meetings last season. At 141 pounds, Stanford's Max Rosefigura (9-5) or Matt Kim (5-7) will have their hands full with junior Nexi Delgado, who already has 15 wins on the year.
Stanford will be looking to avenge a pair of 2006-07 losses to the two opponents, as Stanford fell 29-12 to UC Davis last Jan. 5, and 22-15 to Boise State last Feb. 9.