Stanford Pair Aims To Challenge Nation's Best At 2009 NCAA Wrestling Championships
March 16, 2009
THIS WEEK: Two Stanford wrestlers - freshman Nick Amuchastegui and senior Luke Feist - will continue the 2008-09 season this week, competing on collegiate wrestling's largest stage. The duo has qualified for the 2009 NCAA Wrestling Championships, which will take place in St. Louis beginning Thursday.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: Amuchastegui (165 pounds) and Feist (197 pounds) will be competing with 32 other wrestlers from around the country for the individial national title in their respective weight class. The top eight finishers in each weight class will be named 2009 All-Americans.
FOLLOW THE CHAMPIONSHIPS: ESPNU, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN360.com will combine for expanded live coverage of the championships on Friday, March 20, and Saturday, March 21. The coverage begins with the quarterfinals on Friday at 8 a.m. (PT) on ESPNU and ESPN360.com and continues through the 3:30 (PT) championship finals on ESPN. Tickets to the championships can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Amuchastegui posted a 28-6 record during the regular season and was the Pac-10 runner-up at 165 pounds. His 4-1 loss to Boise State's No. 18 Tyler Sherfey in the championship bout cost him an automatic NCAA berth, but the committee rewarded his efforts with one of 52 at-large spots. Feist went 22-13 during the regular season. He finished third at the Pac-10 Championships, just below the automatic qualifier threshold. Feist got a chance to wrestle for true second, but lost a 12-6 decision to Cal State Bakersfield's seventh-ranked Brandon Halsey. After wrestling a schedule that included seven ranked opponents, however, Feist was also granted one of the 52 at-large berths handed out by the NCAA.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Luke Feist will be making his third consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships this year. Feist went 0-2 on his first trip as a 174-pounder in 2007 and 1-2 as a 174-pounder last year. He nabbed his first career NCAA win with a major decision over Lehigh's Alex Caruso in the 2008 opening round. Feist is the 12th Stanford wrestler to make three or more NCAA appearances during his career. Eight of the other 11 posted at least one All-American finish during their careers.
STANFORD AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: Stanford has sent 87 wrestlers to the NCAA Championships since 1967, when Len Borchers and Terry Crenshaw became the school's first NCAA qualifiers. The team has posted three top-20 finishes over the years - 1967 (13th), 2004 (19th) and 2008 (19th) - and sent at least one wrestler to nationals every year since 2002. Thirteen Cardinal wrestlers have combined to win 17 All-America awards, with six of those top finishes coming in the last five years. Matt Gentry, a 2008 Canadian Olympian, remains the school's only NCAA Champion after winning the 157-pound title in 2004. Last year, Stanford sent a program-high five wrestlers to the championships and came away with two All-Americans - Tanner Gardner and Josh Zupancic. Stanford has had two All-Americans in the same year three times, including each of the last two years.
FOUR-TIMERS: Senior Luke Feist became Stanford's ninth four-time Pac-10 placer earlier this month when he took third place at the Pac-10 Championships. Others who have accomplished the feat since the inception of the Pac-10 in 1980 include Doug Perkins `83, Jeff Bradley `86, Scott Wiggen `87, Lance Johnson `94, Tod Surmon `96, Zach Zimmerer `00, Matt Gentry `05 and Tanner Gardner `08.
PINS A PLENTY...: Entering his final collegiate tournament, Luke Feist stands in sole possession of fifth place on the school's career top-10 list with 25 pins in his four years. Currently second in the Pac-10 in the category, Feist is four pins short of fourth place on the school's career chart (Chris Horpel `75 holds the all-time school record with 56). The fifth-year senior has secured 11 of his 19 wins by fall this season, enough to put him among the school's top-10 single-season leaders as well (Tanner Gardner `08 holds the single-season record with 19 pins in 2007-08).
...AND WINS TOO: Feist added three more wins to his career tally last week, bringing his impressive total to 81. The senior will finish his career as one of the winningest wrestlers in school history. He is the ninth Stanford wrestler all-time to record 80 or more career victories.
FAB FROSH: Nick Amuchastegui, a redshirt freshman is one of the winningest rookies in school history, continuing his impressive first-year run at 165 pounds. On Jan. 16, Amuchastegui became just the 11th Stanford freshman to record a 20-win season. Now 28-6 on the year, Amuchastegui stands in sole possession of fourth place on the program's freshman win chart. Only two Cardinal freshmen, Matt Gentry (2002) and Dave Lee (1985), have ever reached 30 wins as newcomers.
FIRST-TIMERS: Should he finish in the top eight, Amuchastegui would be the first freshman All-American in school history. He would be the fifth Stanford wrestler to post an All-American finish on his first NCAA trip, however, as Len Borchers (1967), Terry Crenshaw (1967), Jeff Wilson (1984) and Josh Zupancic (2007) have all made All-American runs during their inaugural NCAA appearances.
20 AND BEYOND: Amuchastegui and Feist are two of the four Stanford wrestlers to secure 20-win seasons this year, and Amuchastegui has a chance to joing teammate Jake Johnson with 30 wins. Feist's 20-win season is the second of his career. He is three wins short of the career-best mark (25 wins) he set as a sophomore in 2007.
TOUGH SCHEDULE: Feist and Amuchastegui have both upset ranked wrestlers this year. Amuchastegui topped Boise State's Tyler Sherfey while he was No. 11 back in November, while Feist took down Edinboro's No. 19 Pat Bradshaw and Cal State Bakersfield's No. 14 Riley Orozco in December.
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.
UPDATED WRESTLER PROFILES
165 lbs. Nick Amuchastegui
RS Freshman * Talent, OR * 28-6
2008-09 Season: Has wrestled in 34 matches for Stanford, securing the starting spot at 165 pounds as a redshirt freshman ... was one of the 52 at-large qualifiers for the NCAA Championships ... finished as the runner-up at 165 pounds in his first career appearance at the Pac-10 Championships, falling 4-1 to No. 18 Tyler Sherfey in the championship bout ... owns a 28-6 record, and has only lost two bouts in 2009, both to Sherfey ... currently the fourth-winningest freshman in school history with 28 victories ... recorded a team-best 12 match win streak in January and early February ... streak tied for the 10th-longest in school history ... second on the team with 28 wins, six major decisions and six pins ... posted a 9-4 record against conference opponents ... went 19-3 in duals and racked up a team-high 75 dual points .... won 12 of his first 14 collegiate bouts ... posted a major decision against Navy in the first dual match of his career ... went 4-0 and upended then-No. 11 Sherfey, a three-time NCAA qualifier, at the Cowboy Open in November ... claimed his first career tournament title at the event with his win over Sherfey in the championship ... nabbed his 20th win of the season at Air Force on Jan. 16, topping NCAA qualifier Stephen Crozier to become the 11th wrestler in school history to reach 20 wins as a rookie ... has faced four ranked opponents during the year ... won six Pac-10 dual bouts.
Amuchastegui vs. The NCAA Field (2-4): beat Tyler Sherfey (Boise State) 4-2 on 11/15/08 ... lost 7-6 to Keegan Mueller (North Carolina) on 12/18/08 ... lost 7-4 to Keegan Davis (Oregon State) on 12/18/08 ... beat Keegan Davis (Oregon State) 6-4 on 1/30/09 ... lost 3-2 to Tyler Sherfey (Boise State) on 2/8/09 ... lost 4-1 to Tyler Sherfey (Boise State) on 3/2/09.
197 lbs. Luke Feist
RS Senior * Sandpoint, ID * 22-13
2008-09 Season: Stanford's only senior and one of four team co-captains ... has moved up from 174 pounds this season to be Stanford's starting 197-pounder ... was one of the 52 at-large qualifiers for the NCAA Championships ... finished third at the Pac-10 Championships, becoming the school's ninth four-time Pac-10 placer ... went 3-2 at the conference tournament, winning three straight consolation matches before falling to No. 7 Brandon Halsey in the true second-place match ... owns a 22-13 record ... posted a 10-9 mark in duals ... has won 81 career matches, and became just the ninth wrestler in school history to reach 80 wins at the Pac-10 Championships ... stands in sole possession of fifth place on the school's career top-10 list with 25 pins in his four years ... leads the team with 11 pins and is currently ranked second in the Pac-10 in the category ... has posted a pin nearly every week of the season this year ... 11 pins put him among the school's top-10 single-season leaders as well (9th) ... posted a 9-7 record against Pac-10 opponents ... one of four Stanford wrestlers to hit the 20-win mark on the year, nabbing his second career 20-win season against Jake Cranford of Arizona State at the Pac-10 Championships ... finished fourth on the team with 45 dual points ... won nine consecutive matches in November and December, the second-longest winning streak on the team ... first three losses came while wrestling as a heavyweight ... won five matches in the consolation bracket of the Oklahoma Open to nab third place ... also placed at the Reno Tournament of Champions for the first time in his career, going 4-1, pinning three opponents and upseting two ranked wrestlers on his way to the 197-pound title match ... took second placed in the tournament after defeating the second and third ranked opponents of his career - No. 19 Pat Bradshow of Edinboro and No. 14 Riley Orozco of Cal State Bakersfield ... pinned six opponents in eight matches in November and December ... six pins came in dual matches ... wrestled the toughest schedule on the team, with seven matches against ranked opponents ... went 2-5 against those opponents.
Feist vs. The NCAA Field (1-6): pinned Pat Bradshaw (Edinboro) in 4:21 on 12/18/08 ... lost 6-3 to Brandon Halsey (Cal State Bakersfield) on 12/18/08 ... lost 4-3 to Richard Starks (Army) on 1/3/09 ... lost 3-0 to Eric Lapotsky (Oklahoma) on 1/3/09 ... lost 8-5 to Jon Oplinger (Drexel) on 1/10/09 ... lost 6-4 to Brent Chriswell (Boise State) on 2/8/09 ... lost 12-6 to Brandon Halsey (Cal State Bakersfield) on 3/2/09.