Cardinal to Chicago for 2005 Midlands

Dec. 27, 2005

Stanford, Calif. - Six Cardinal wrestlers will be on the road in Evanston, Ill., this week for the 43rd installment of the Midlands Championships. Stanford, led by 125-pounder Tanner Gardner, who is pre-seeded fifth, will compete on Thursday and Friday at the Welsh-Ryan Arena on the Northwestern University campus.

Gardner, who has placed at four-straight tournaments during the fall has a tough division, with defending Midlands champion and fourth-ranked Nick Simmons (Michigan State) and ninth-ranked John Velez of Northwestern in the mix. Gardner is tabbed No. 11 in the most recent NWCA rankings.

After suffering an injury at the Las Vegas Invitational, sophomore Josh Zupancic will be back on the mat for the first time since Dec. 2. The 149 pounder owns a 9-1 record this season, his only loss coming from the medical forfeit in the third round. Zupancic's weight class boasts five of the top-10 wrestlers in the nation.

Scott Loescher will represent the Cardinal at 157 pounds, which continue will be one of the deepest weights at the tournament, as the top five ranked wrestlers in the nation are expected to compete. The Stanford sophomore has been strong this season, placing third at the California Open and coming within one bout of placing at the Reno Tournament. He ranks third on the squad with 14 victories this season.

Chicago-native Ray Blake (165 pounds), who leads the squad with 22 wins, has placed at four tournaments this season and will look for his fifth top-finish. Blake's weight class is loaded with three top DI wrestlers, but also includes two non-collegians and three DII and DIII athletes who round out the pre-seeds at 165.

Redshirt freshman Luke Feist will take on the field at 174 pounds, which includes three of the top-five wrestlers in the country and eight of the top-20, while fifth-year senior Ryan Hagen will compete at 184 pounds, a division where all of the seven pre-seeds are ranked nationally in the top-nine.

The first session of the 2005 Midlands Championships will begin on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 9:30 am (CT), with the second session slated to start at 7 p.m. Friday's wrestling begins at noon with the semifinals, and the tournament concludes with the championship, third-place and fifth-place bouts at 7:30 p.m.

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