Five Cardinal Wrestlers Seek Titles At NCAA Championships

March 17, 2008

Stanford, Calif. - UP NEXT
Five Stanford wrestlers travel to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. this week for the 2008 NCAA Wrestling Championships. Tanner Gardner, Josh Zupancic, Zack Giesen, Luke Feist and Lucas Espericueta will represent the Cardinal at the event, looking to earn All-America honors and capture an NCAA title. Action begins Thursday with pigtail and first rounds, and runs through the championship bouts on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

FOLLOWING THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
ESPN will provide live and delayed coverage throughout the three days of the event. ESPNU/ESPN360.com will air the quarterfinals live at 10 a.m. (CT) on Friday. Additionally, ESPNU will be producing and syndicating live coverage of the semifinals beginning at 6 p.m. (CT) that same day. On Saturday morning, ESPNU will carry the medal rounds live at 10 a.m. (CT). ESPN/ESPN360.com will air the championships live later that evening at 7:30 p.m. (CT). All-session tickets can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling toll free (866) 646-8849.

WHAT'S AT STAKE
The five Cardinal qualifiers will be seeking All-America honors and NCAA titles. The top eight finishers in each weight class are recognized as All-Americans. The Stanford program has produced 13 All-Americans and earned 15 all-time All-America honors. Senior Tanner Gardner is looking to become Stanford's first three-time All-American this year. Matt Gentry, who recently secured a spot at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is the only Cardinal wrestler to ever win an NCAA title, claiming the 157-pound title in 2004.

REGULAR-SEASON RECAP
The Cardinal is amidst one of its best seasons ever, having recorded its best Pac-10 finish in school history at the conference championships on Mar. 3 (2nd). The team also posted the program's highest win total in over three decades with a 13-4 dual record this season, won six of nine Pac-10 duals and posted the first shutout in the program's recorded history against Wagner on Jan. 6. Senior Tanner Gardner won four tournament titles and placed in every tournament he competed in, leading a combined 26 tournament placers and five tournament champions on the year. As a team, Stanford wrestlers combined to win 278 matches, pin 63 opponents and beat five ranked individuals.

WIN FEST
This year, five Stanford wrestlers have already posted 20-win seasons, and two of those are already at the 30-win mark. Seniors Tanner Gardner and Josh Zupancic went undefeated in duals this year, leading four wrestlers with 50 or more team points and six wrestlers with 30 or more,

STANFORD AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Stanford has had 15 All-Americans in the history of the program, with Chris Horpel and Tanner Gardner being Stanford's only two-time All-Americans. Len Borchers and Terry Crenshaw became the first Stanford All-Americans with fourth place finishes during the 1966-67 season, and, last year, Gardner and Josh Zupancic became the first duo to be All-Americans in the same season since that original pair more than four decades ago. Stanford's list of All-Americans also includes Doug Perkins (1983), Jeff Wilson (1984), Scott Wiggen (1985), Dave Lee (1986), Steve Buddie (1990), Tod Surmon (1996), Beau Weiner (2000) and Matt Gentry (2004). Gentry stands as Stanford's only NCAA Champion, having won the 157-pound title in 2004. Gardner will be looking to become the program's first three-time All-American this season. For the second straight year, Stanford has five NCAA qualifiers, matching the highest total in program history.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
Four members of the Stanford squad return to the championships with at least one year of NCAA appearance under their belt. Senior Tanner Gardner will be heading to nationals for the fourth time in his career. As a true freshman in 2004, he was a wild card selection after finishing fifth in the conference. In 2006, Gardner, the tournament's 12th seed, went 4-3 at the championships and finished eighth in the nation. Last year, Gardner went 4-2 and took seventh place. Senior Josh Zupancic topped four ranked wrestlers on his way to a seventh place finish in his first appearance at the championships last season. Luke Feist and Zack Giesen also have NCAA experience, with both competing in the championships last year. In 2007, Stanford finished 32nd overall with 16 team points.

RECORD BOOKS
Tanner Gardner, Stanford's 125-pounder, shattered two Stanford records in one fell swoop two weeks ago. The senior pinned his second opponent at the Pac-10 Championships to become Stanford's all-time career win leader (140 wins) and single-season pin leader (19 pins). Gardner's 19 pins rank second nationally and his 38 wins this season rank fourth nationally. Not to be overshadowed, senior Josh Zupancic is third on the career win chart with 117, second only to Gardner and Matt Gentry. Redshirt freshman Lucas Espericueta, Stanford's 149-pounder, is also climbing his way up the charts. He is currently fourth in wins in a freshman season, with 25 already this year.

STANFORD STATS
Tanner Gardner leads the Cardinal squad with 19 pins this year, and also paced the squad with 93 dual points during the regular-season. Gardner and Josh Zupancic lead the team with four wins by technical fall, while freshman Lucas Espericueta leads the squad with 11 wins by major decision. Gardner is the team's leader with 38 overall wins.

NATIONALLY SPEAKING
Seniors Tanner Gardner and Josh Zupancic have both been consistently ranked in the top-20 nationally this season. Gardner currently holds the No. 5 spot, while Zupancic stands at No. 11.

ALL-AMERICAN PRIDE
Stanford has two returning All-Americans on its team. At 125 pounds, senior Tanner Gardner is looking to become Stanford's first three-time All-American this season, after finishing 7th and 8th in the nation the last two years. Senior Josh Zupancic earned his first career All-America honor last year, taking 7th place at 157 pounds. Last season, Zupancic and Gardner became the first Stanford duo to earn All-America honors in the same year since 1966-67.

MILESTONE WINS
Tanner Gardner and Josh Zupancic are both members of Stanford's 100-win club. Tanner Gardner earned his 100th win at the NCAA Championships last season, and Zupancic picked up his earlier this year at the Reno Tournament of Champions. The elite club also includes Scott Wiggen `87, Steve Buddie `91 and Matt Gentry `05. Sophomore Zack Giesen and junior Luke Feist are already halfway there. Giesen posted his 50th career win against Oregon State on Feb. 3 and Feist notched his against Menlo College on Jan. 25.

HEAD COACH Kerry McCoy
Stanford Head Coach Kerry McCoy is in his third season at the helm of the Cardinal, and has been rapidly improving the quality of the Stanford wrestling program since the day he arrived on the Farm. This season, he led Stanford to its highest Pac-10 finish in school history and helped the team to the most dual wins in more than three decades. He led Tanner Gardner to his first All-America honor in 2006, and led Zack Giesen, a member of his first recruiting class, to a second place finish in the Pac-10 and an NCAA appearance last season. McCoy was a three-time All-American at Penn State and went 131-1 in his final 132 collegiate matches. He was recently named to the coaching staff for the 2008 Olympic Freestyle Team. McCoy was a two-time Olympian himself, competing at the Games in Athens and Sydney.

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