2003-04 Season Outlook

Sept. 17, 2003

STANFORD, Calif. - After a challenging campaign last year, the Cardinal wrestling squad looks to rebound, reload and redouble its efforts to pursue its climb toward the top of the Pac-10 in 2003-04. After having lost one graduating senior last season, Stanford returns a young but veteran squad while it adds a solid freshman class to the ranks.

The Cardinal will be led by a junior class that includes Matt Gentry (157) and Brad Metzler (133). Both wrestlers were NCAA qualifiers and were named to the all-rookie team by the Amateur Wrestling News in their freshmen seasons. With 67 victories in just two seasons, Gentry earned Honorable Mention All-America honors in his second trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2003. Metzler, who competed in the 2002 NCAA Tournament at 141 pounds, will once again vie for a spot in this year's Tournament at 133 pounds. Juniors Scott Polley (149/157) and Garrett Johnston (165) are also returning starters for Stanford who will look to find spots in the varsity line-up and add depth to the middleweight corps.

The Cardinal will look for leadership from a trio of fifth-year seniors. Paul Gross (141), Brendon Fox (149), and John Garfinkel (184) look to close out their Stanford careers on high notes. Gross will not be available early in the season but promises to make a huge impact when he joins the starting ten in the winter.

With a year of competition under their belt, the sophomore class should make up the bulk of the line-up and sits poised for a standout year. While they might shuffle weights, Ryan Hagen (174), Larry Ozowara (197), and Imad Kharbush (184) provide a solid nucleus at the upper weights. Hagen looked solid last year as a varsity performer with 16 victories, while Ozowara came on very strong at the end of the season, placing fourth in the All-Cal Invitational. Kharbush sported 16 wins and a tournament victory at the Aggie Open in his freshman campaign two seasons ago before redshirting last year. Fellow sophomore Shawn Ritzenthaler (285) should round out the sophomore-laden upper weights by returning to his starting position in the heavyweight class. One of the few sophomores among the middleweights, Zack Hensley (149) makes a solid case to emerge as a starting 149-pounder.

The Stanford staff is excited about a quality freshman class who could see significant time on the mats throughout this season. Redshirt freshman Brian Perry (165) looks to make an immediate impact with his tenacious style while fellow redshirt freshman Ian Bork (197) could easily find his way among the starters. True freshman Tanner Gardner (125), a Greco-Roman Junior National Champion, looks to take over for Stanford at 125 pounds. Junior NCAA Qualifier Nathan Peterson (125) will be redshirting the season. Other freshmen that could see time in the starting line-up include Josh Zupancic (141), a four-time state finalist in Ohio, Scott Loescher (149), a Greco-Roman Junior National Champion, and Phil Doerner (197), a state champion from Oklahoma.

Along with the incoming freshmen, Stanford welcomes Kevin Klemm to the coaching staff. Klemm has coached over 100 All-Americans and 21 USAW Individual National Champions as the head coach of the East Kansas Wrestling Club. He adds a wealth of coaching ability and technical expertise to head coach Steve Buddie's staff.

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