Oregon State secures third straight conference wrestling title, Stanford runner-up
STANFORD, CALIF. – Orange and black filled the stands Sunday at Maples Pavilion as No. 18 Oregon State earned its third straight Pac-12 conference championship. The title was secured with seven wins, including three individual championships, and a team total of 155.5 points. It was the first time a Pac-12 team has earned three consecutive conference titles since Arizona State won six championships in a row from 1985-91. The Beavers qualified eight wrestlers for the NCAA tournament on their way to the team title.
Oregon State couldn’t be touched as host No. 23 Stanford finished a distant second with 134.0 team points, followed by Boise State in third with 128.5.
The final round started with a tight win by Stanford’s Evan Silver. Silver lit up Maples Pavilion with an 8-6 victory over Boise State’s Rami Haddadin for the first Cardinal win of the night. The sophomore was the runner-up at the Pac-12 championships last year and will look continue his winning streak at the NCAA tournament later this month in Okalhoma City.
Oregon State’s Pat Rollins capped a comeback season in the 125 lbs. weight class with a third-place finish over Arizona State’s Ares Carpio. Rollins lost his starting spot on the Oregon State roster last season after having a breakout freshman year, but fought his way back to cement his position this year.
Two-time All-American Ryan Mango showed his strength in front of a home crowd with a 5-2 victory at 133 lbs. over defending Pac-12 champion Devon Lotito from Cal Poly. After redshirting last season, the Stanford fifth-year senior entered the season ranked No. 1 for the first half of the season. He is currently ranked No. 9 nationally and looking for his first NCAA title.
One of the surprises of the meet was the third-place finish by Oregon State's Joey Palmer over Jose Mendoza of CSU Bakersfield in the 133 lbs. class. The win secured him his first berth in the NCAA tournament.
Coming off of a successful redshirt season, Joey Delgado of Oregon State defeated CSUB’s Ian Nickell 10-5 to claim the 141 lbs. class title. After compiling a 13-3 record in the 2012-13 season while competing unattached, Delgado caps off the 2013-14 season with an automatic berth to the NCAA championships, a first for the freshman. Ian Nickell entered the final match after suffering an ankle injury in session 1, but earned his highest conference championship finish as a the 141 runner-up.
[Related: Photos: 2014 Pac-12 Wrestling Championships]
After the No. 2 seed Dalton Kelly was upset in the first match in session 1, Oregon State All-American Scott Sakaguchi took down Boise State’s Chris Castillo for the win at 149. Castillo was looking to repeat his November win over Sakaguchi when the Bronco All-American was ranked No. 3 in the country, but Sakaguchi escaped and used a takedown to claim victory and an automatic NCAA berth.
Oregon State's R.J. Peña dominated the mat as he took down Joel Smith of Arizona State, 8-0, for the 157 lbs. class championship. The Beaver senior was the Pac-12 champion in 2012 and placed fifth at the NCAAs in 2013 on the way to his first All-American honor. Peña has consistently secured a top 15 ranking so far this season, peaking at No. 3. Joel Smith is enjoying a breakout season as the redshirt junior holds three of the fastest pins on the Sun Devil roster this season.
Stanford’s Jim Wilson pulled a huge reversal over Arizona State’s Nick Rex to secure the victory at 165. The redshirt freshman, who never won a state title in high school, had a 15-3 record while competing unattached last year. His 33 wins for Stanford currently puts him third all-time for career wins as a freshman on the school's all-time list.
The defending Pac-12 champions continued to reign as Bryce Hammond of CSU Bakersfield secured another conference title at 174 lbs. against Oregon State’s Joe Latham. The redshirt sophomore came out firing as he got a pin over Latham in the first round for CSU Bakersfield's first title of the night. Latham earned a top-three podium spot after not starting in the 2012-13 season.
Kyle Meyer of Stanford secured his first NCAA berth at 174 lbs. with a third place victory over Boise State’s Austin Dewey (9-3) in a match that had the entire arena on the edge of their seats.
In an impressive conference performance, Boise State’s Jake Swartz took home his third Pac-12 title at 184 lbs. over Arizona State standout Blake Stauffer. Swartz earned the victory in a tight matchup that ended with a game-changing escape for the 3-1 win. Although Swartz was ranked second in the tournament seeding, the Bronco silenced his doubters with the win and is looking to claim his first All-American honor after coming up short last season.
In an overtime thriller, Oregon State’s Taylor Meeks and Stanford’s Dan Scherer got the crowd on their feet for the upset of the night. The crowd erupted as the two wrestlers entered overtime tied at 2-2. After a prolonged analysis by the referees, Scherer earned his first Pac-12 title with a hard-fought takedown over the returning All-American and 2013 Pac-12 champion. Scherer moved down in weight class this season after competing at heavyweight for two years. Looks like the decision paid off.
Boise State’s J.T. Felix rounded out the meet with a 7-1 victory over freshman phenom Amarveer Dhesi at heavyweight. Felix was the runner-up at the Pac-12 championships in 2013 and 2011 and qualified for the NCAA tournament in both seasons. Dhesi is currently ranked No. 17 nationally and is poised to compete for a spot on the Canadian national team in 2016.