Cardinal Opens Home Season with Stanford Duals

Jan. 3, 2007

Stanford, Calif. - The Cardinal wrestling team will kick off the home season this week, hosting Columbia, No. 23 Lehigh and UC Davis in the Stanford Duals at Burnham Pavilion on Friday. Stanford will meet the Lions of Columbia in the first dual at 10 a.m., followed by a contest with Lehigh at noon and a contest with UC Davis at 2 p.m. Also in Burnham tomorrow, Lehigh will face UC Davis at 10 a.m. and Columbia will face UC Davis at noon.

'I am very excited to be competing at home after traveling so much,' said Head Coach Kerry McCoy. 'I am _equally excited to have a chance to compete against three great teams. _Each team brings something special to the table.'

The Cardinal enters the duals with a 2-2 overall record and a 1-0 record in the Pac-10. The squad is led by its two ranked wrestlers, No. 4 Tanner Gardner at 125 pounds and No. 16 Josh Zupancic at 157 pounds. Gardner boasts a 22-3 record, and captured titles at the Bison Open and the Reno Tournament of Champions earlier this season. Zupancic, 25-7, has placed in all five tournaments he has competed in.

The Columbia Lions will compete in their first duals of the season on Friday, and will take on Stanford for the first time since 2002. The Lions are led by three top-20 wrestlers in No. 18 Matt DeLorenzo (133 pounds), No. 11 Matt Palmer (174 pounds) and No. 14 Justin Barent (184 pounds). Additionally, the squad returns an NCAA qualifier, sophomore Sal Tirico (141 pounds). Zupancic is the only Cardinal wrestler to have taken on a Lion this season, as the Stanford junior defeated Devin Mesanko in the seventh place match at the Las Vegas Invitational.

'Columbia _has improved every year since Coach Buckley took over,' said McCoy. 'They have a _great staff and a lot of great wrestlers.'

No. 23 Lehigh enters the Stanford Duals with a 4-4 dual meet record, and finished 11th at the Southern Scuffle last weekend. The squad boasts three ranked wrestlers and seven returning NCAA qualifiers. Senior Matt Ciasulli currently stands at No. 20 at 141 pounds, while freshman David Craig is 19th at 184 pounds. Heavyweight Paul Weibel is currenly the top-ranked wrestler for the Mountain Hawks at No. 14. Cardinal Head Coach Kerry McCoy, who was an assistant coach at Lehigh from 2000-05, will meet his former team for the first time in his career. Gardner is the only Cardinal wrestler to have faced an opponent from Lehigh this season, having topped Matthew Fisk, 8-1, in the quarterfinals of the Southern Scuffle on Saturday.

'Lehigh was my home for _5 years,' said McCoy. 'I have a lot of strong ties to that program including Greg _Strobel, who was my coach for almost 10 years and is one of my mentors. Also, John Clark, one of our former assistants, is there now.'

Stanford will continue also Pac-10 competition against UC Davis, looking to pick up a second conference win. The Aggies are 1-1 so far in 2006-07 and are led by a pair of top-five wrestlers in No. 2 Derek Moore (141 pounds) and No. 4 Ken Cook (174 pounds). Including Moore and Cook, the Aggies return four NCAA qualifiers from 2005-06 and six Pac-10 placewinners. Cardinal and Aggie wrestlers have met in five bouts at three competitions so far this season, and Stanford has come out on top in three of those meetings. Last season, Stanford fell to UC Davis, 38-6, on the road.

'UC Davis is a conference _opponent, so a lot rides on each match,' said McCoy. 'We recruit a lot of the same _student athletes as all of these programs. Right now there are a bunch _of guys we recruited wrestling for them and vice versa. It's great for _Stanford to have these teams come in and it's great for wrestling to have _these programs compete against each other.'

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