Stanford set to host 2014 Pac-12 Wrestling Championships
The 52nd-annual Pac-12 Wrestling Championships will be held on Sunday, March 2 at Maples Pavilion, hosted by Stanford University. All six teams bring a wealth of tough competition to the table, with two teams ranked in the top 25 and at least one Pac-12 wrestler ranked in the top 20 for all but two weight classes ... No. 18 OREGON STATE, the reigning Pac-12 Champion, looks to defend its title against contenders like No. 23 STANFORD and tough Conference foe BOISE STATE. ARIZONA STATE looks to win their first Championship since taking home back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006. CSU BAKERSFIELD hasn’t won a title since 1999 but have top contenders in the 141- and 174-pound categories. CAL POLY has never won a Pac-12 Championship but has a shot with Devon Lotito, who competed at NCAAs last year, representing the Mustangs in the 133 class ... The championship rounds, which begin at 5 p.m. PT, will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks.
The first two sessions of the championships will be streamed live on pac-12.com. The finals will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks with the broadcast beginning at 5 p.m. PT. Live results will be available after the preliminary matches and after each finals match on the 2014 Pac-12 Wrestling Championships website: http://pac-12.com/content/2014-pac-12-wrestling-championships
Hosted by USA Wrestling, top wrestlers from the Pac-12 joined together for a Google+ Hangout on Thursday afternoon. Watch below as J.T. Felix (Boise State), Ian Nickell (CSU Bakersfield), RJ Pena (Oregon State), and Jim Wilson (Stanford) joined Richard Immel of USA Wrestling to discuss the matchups at Maples Pavilion.
The Sun Devils look to bounce back from a Pac-12 title drought, with their last Championship coming in 2006. Arizona State’s squad is anchored by Blake Stauffer, who has won 10-straight duals entering the meet and holds a 10-0 record in major decisions. Joel Smith, a 157-pound class member, has also been a top performer for ASU, with three of the fastest pin times on the Sun Devil roster this season.
With their dual match against Pac-12 foe Oregon State cancelled at the end of the season, the Broncos look to face off against the Beavers, who have been the only other team to win a Conference title in the past seven years. Boise State has two wrestlers ranked: Jake Swartz at 184 and J.T. Felix at the heavyweight level. Both wrestlers qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, with Swartz entering the meet as the reigning Conference champion in the same weight class.
The Mustangs’ only Pac-12 dual win this season came against CSU Bakersfield, but don’t count them out just yet. Devon Lotito, a sophomore for Cal Poly, looks to return after winning the 133-pound championship at last year’s Pac-12s, entering the meet ranked 17th in the nation in the weight class. Junior Dominic Kastl returns in the 174 class from missing last season, after winning the 165-pound Pac-12 Championship as a redshirt freshman.
The Runners got a huge Pac-12 victory earlier this season, winning the dual against then-No. 20/25 Boise State. Bryce Hammond, a redshirt sophomore who won the 174-pound title at last year’s Championships, is ranked at first by the Pac-12 coaches’ panel after missing part of the season due to injury.
On the hunt for their third-straight Pac-12 Championship, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Arizona State won six-straight from 1985-91, the Beavers look to leverage their extensive experience to capture the title. OSU leads the Conference in Pac-12 titles with 20 overall, including three in the past four years and a streak of five straight from 1965-69. With four ranked wrestlers - including freshman standout Amarveer Dhesi and seasoned senior Scott Sakaguchi - the Beavers are certainly more than capable of a three-peat.
The No. 23 Cardinal set a record for dual wins with 17 this season, rounding out the year with a 17-5 overall record. Led by 18th-ranked Jim Wilson at the 165 class, who registered 30 wins this season, and No. 9 Ryan Mango, a redshirt senior who went 24-3 on the year and 18-1 in duals, Stanford is poised to continue its historic season and win its first-ever Pac-12 Championship. With its only Pac-12 loss coming to Oregon State this season, the road to Stanford’s first Pac-12 title won’t be easy.