Stanford Gears Up For Reno Tournament Of Champions

Dec. 15, 2008

THIS WEEK: After an 18-day respite for final exams, the Stanford wrestling team (3-5, 0-2 Pac-10) is back on the mats this week in Reno, Nev. The Cardinal will send 10 wrestlers to the Reno Tournament of Champions on Thursday, where they will have a chance to square off with some of the nation's top competition.

ABOUT THE RTOC: The Reno Tournament of Champions, held at the Reno Downtown Convention Center in Reno, Nev., is one of the most competitive wrestling tournaments in the nation. This year, the event includes a number of top teams, including all nine Pac-10 squads and three ranked competitors - Edinboro (17), Oklahoma State (t-13) and Boise State (t-13). The college portion of the tournament begins at 9 a.m. Thursday morning, with finals scheduled for 6 p.m. that evening.

RENO SUCCESS: Stanford has competed at the RTOC in each of the last four seasons, and had 11 placewinners and two champions in that time. Tanner Gardner was the last Cardinal wrestler to win a Reno title, coming in first at 125 pounds in 2006. Junior Zack Giesen (4th, 2007) is the only current Cardinal wrestler who has placed in Reno.

LOOKING AHEAD: Stanford takes a brief break for the holidays before resuming dual meets again on Jan. 3. The team will take part in the Lonestar Duals in Arlington, Texas that day, meeting Harvard, Army and No. 12 Oklahoma in a grueling day that includes duals that begin 12 hours apart (Harvard at 8 a.m. and Oklahoma at 8 p.m., with the dual against Army in between).

SO FAR THIS SEASON: Facing a number of early injuries in its upper weights, Stanford has wrestled short-handed in its first eight duals and gone 3-5. The Cardinal won its last two contests before the finals break, however, and had six placers and two finalists at the Oklahoma Open.

PINS A PLENTY...: Stanford's only senior, Luke Feist, recorded four pins in the Cardinal's last weekend of competition before finals, moving himself onto the school's career top-10 list for wins by fall. Feist now has 18 career pins, tying him for seventh place on the school's career chart. Two-time All-American Chris Horpel `75 holds the school record with 56 career pins.

...AND WINS TOO: Luke Feist is just six wins short of joining the school's all-time career win list as well. Feist currently has 66 wins in his four years on The Farm.

TOURNEY TITLES: Two Stanford wrestlers claimed tournament titles last month, and the Cardinal will look to add to that total in Reno this week. On Nov. 15, redshirt freshman Nick Amuchastegui upended a three-time NCAA qualifier who was ranked 11th nationally to win the 165-pound crown at the Cowboy Open. On Nov. 23, junior Zack Giesen pinned three straight opponents to take the 184-pound title at the Fullerton Open.

STANFORD WATCH LIST: The Cardinal wrestlers to watch this week include 133-pounder Porfirio Madrigal, 157-pounder Lucas Espericueta and 184-pounder Jake Johnson. Johnson (15-6) is the team's win (15) and major decision (7) leader, while Espericueta just ended a team-best seven-match win streak. Madrigal, the team's leader with 27 dual points, enters this week's tournament having won four straight matches.

TOP NOTCH RETURNERS: Stanford's 17 returners are highlighted by a trio that qualified for last year's NCAA Tournament. Junior Zack Giesen and senior Luke Feist have both competed at the last two NCAA Championships, and have more than 50 career wins apiece. Lucas Espericueta had one of the best freshman seasons in school history last year, winning 25 matches and qualifying for the NCAA Championships at 149 pounds.

A NEW LOOK: Stanford is under the guidance of a new head coach this season - former Cardinal assistant Jason Borrelli. Borrelli, a 2006 graduate of Central Michigan, was an integral part of the staff that led Stanford to one of its most successful seasons in school history last year. Working with the lower weights, Borrelli helped the Cardinal win 13 duals, post its highest Pac-10 finish in school history, its second-highest national finish and send a program-best five wrestlers to the NCAA Championships.

FRESH FACES: Stanford has seven newcomers on its roster this year, and three of those rookies have already been part of the starting lineup. Matt Sencenbaugh (Auburn, Wash.), Victor Haug (Emigrant, Mont.) and Timmy Boone (Poway, Calif.) are already playing a vital role for the Cardinal in their first collegiate seasons.

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