2014 Pac-12 Wrestling Championships: getting to know the Pac-12 wrestlers
Redshirt junior Chace Eskam made a heroic comeback this season after battling cancer last year. So far in the 2013-14 season, Eskam picked up a third place finish at the Cowboy Open at the 197 weight class, a win over Cal Poly’s Tyler Hecht with a 4-1 decision, and followed with a win over CSUB’s Sam Cervantes in a 3-2 decision in the same weekend.
A recent addition to the Sun Devil squad, Nick Rex transferred from Campbell University to pursue a masters in liberal studies and complete his last year of eligibility. Rex was the team captain at Campbell during the 2011-13 seasons and was named to the Southern Conference All-Conference team. As a member of the Arizona State senior class, Rex was crucial to the Sun Devils’ upset win over Oregon State, picking up a 5-2 decision over Toney Chay.
Cardinal standout Ryan Mango is a two-time All-American and a U.S. National Team member in Greco-Roman wrestling, and the senior still has unfinished business on the collegiate mat. Following the lead of his older brother Spenser, who finished eighth at the Beijing Olympics, Mango is poised to compete for a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. At No. 9 in the 133 weight class, Mango is eyeing a national title to cap off his senior season at Stanford where he plans to graduate with a degree in human biology.
Brian Owen enters his final season for the Broncos as a sixth year senior after a back injury prevented him from competing during the 2009-11 seasons. Owen captured a Pac-12 title at 133 pounds during the 2012 conference championships and earned a second place finish in 2013 before qualifying for the NCAA tournament in both seasons.
Teammates Bryce Hammond and Ian Nickell have been competing together since grade school after joining the Road Runners from Bakersfield High School. Both redshirt sophomores, Hammond is the returning 174-pound Pac-12 champion and Nickell is coming off of a recent dual meet victory over Matt Kraus of Arizona State.
Redshirt senior Jose Mendoza will be competing for the first time as a starter on the Road Runners’ line-up at the Pac-12 championships. Mendoza earned his spot after securing a 7-0 victory over Arizona State’s Cord Coronado Feb. 16 and earning a major decision win over Oklahoma’s Brian Crutchmer Feb. 8.
Heavyweight freshman Amarveer Dhesi is entering his first Pac-12 Championship for Oregon State with a background in Olympic style wrestling, which is separate from the United State's traditional collegiate style. The Surrey, Canada native picked up 11 provincial championships and won the FILA junior national title in 2013.
Devon Lotito may not have won a state championship in high school, but during his freshman season in 2013, the sophomore earned the Pac-12 title at 133 pounds and an impressive 29-9 record. The Mustangs’ standout is looking to repeat this year, but will have his work cut out for him with Ryan Mango in the ring.
2012 Pac-12 Champion Dominic Kastl is coming back after missing the entire 2012-13 season due to a lower back injury. As a redshirt freshman, Kastl capped off the season with a 2-2 record at the NCAA championships. He’s looking to win his second conference title on Sunday.