Beavers In Position For First Title Since '94
Feb. 24, 2007
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - With an already commanding team points lead and a conference-best five wrestlers in the finals, Oregon State appears to be in prime position to take its first conference title since 1994 as the first day of the 2007 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships concluded at Cal State Bakersfield's Icardo Center on Saturday night.
Oregon State leads the team competition with 92 points, well ahead of second-place UC Davis with 74.5 points. Cal Poly sits third in a tight race for second place at 71.5 points, and host Cal State Bakersfield is fourth at 68.5. Stanford is fifth with 62.5 points, while Arizona State is sixth (60.5), Cal State Fullerton is seventh (51), Boise State and Oregon are tied for eighth (44.5) and Portland State is 10th (5.5).
The Beavers were consistent throughout the first day of competition and seemed to win every close match. An impressive morning session turned into an even better night session when Oregon State sent five wrestlers to the finals out of the school's seven that competed in the semifinals. And, Oregon State did it by winning the close matches.
At 125, No. 2 seed Eric Stevenson led off the evening with a 4-2 decision over No. 3 seed John Espinoza of Arizona State. The two-point victory earned Stevenson a finals matchup with No. 1 seed Tanner Gardner of Stanford on Sunday night.
Bobby Pfennigs continued the trend for the Beavers at 133 as the second-seeded Oregon State wrestler picked up a narrow 4-3 decision over UC Davis' Omar Gaitan. That sets up another 1-2 matchup in the final with Pfennigs taking on top-seeded Darrell Vasquez of Cal Poly.
Jump ahead to 149 pounds where No. 3 seed Derek Kipperberg used a takedown in the final 30 seconds to earn an upset 6-5 decision over No. 2 Brandon Doyle of Cal State Bakersfield. Kipperberg will also face a top seed on Sunday night when he wrestlers Cal State Fullerton's Morgan Atkinson.
In another close match, No. 2 seed Jeremy Larson earned a close 3-1 decision over No. 3 seed Nate Lee of Boise State to become the Baevers' fourth finalist. And just like his teammates, Larson will take on a top seed in Ken Cook of UC Davis in the final.
Oregon State did go on a slight cold spell over the next two weights when No. 1 seed Greg Gifford of Arizona State sent the Beavers' No. 4 seed Kyle Bressler into the consolation bracket with a 6-2 decision at 184. That was followed with another No. 1 seed at 197 knocking off an Oregon State wrestler when Cal Poly's Matt Monteiro earned a 12-3 major decision over No. 5 Travis Gardner of Oregon State.
But heavyweight Ty Watterson made it five Beaver finalists when the top-seeded senior picked up a 13-5 major decision over No. 5 seed Colton Nichols of Cal State Bakersfield. Watterson, who ironically is Oregon State's lone No. 1 seed in the tournament, will take on No. 3 seed Cody Parker of Cal Poly.
Oregon State leads all teams with five finalists, but Stanford, Cal Poly, UC Davis and Arizona State all have three finalists and will attempt to try to catch the Beavers in the team standings. Oregon, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Bakersfield each have one finalist apiece.
In the weights that Oregon State does not have a wrestler in the finals, top-seeded and undefeated Derek Moore of UC Davis will face No. 2 seed Justin Pearch of Oregon in the 141-pound final; No. 1 seed Brian Stith of Arizona State will do battle with No. 2 Josh Zupancic of Stanford at 157; No. 1 Dustin Noack of UC Davis and No. 2 Patrick Pearch of Arizona State will wrestle for the 165-pound title; top-seeded Gifford will face No. 3 Zack Giesen of Stanford at 184 pounds; and No. 1 Monteiro will wrestle No. 2 Brandon Halsey of Cal State Bakersfield at 197.
The seeds stayed true for much of the night, with all 10 No. 1 seeds, seven No. 2 seeds and three No. 3 seeds reaching the finals. In addition, 54 of the 60 wrestlers still in the tournament were seeded. All six wrestlers remaining in the tournament at each weight are guaranteed placewinner status, and the top three in each weight plus nine wildcards will advance to the NCAA Championships at Auburn Hills, Mich., on March 15-17.
The Pac-10 Championships will have two sessions on Sunday with the first being at 11 a.m. and the finals and third-place matches being wrestled at 6 p.m. Go to www.pac-10.org to watch the live webcast of the Pac-10 Championships.