Stanford Wrestling Prepares for East Coast Swing

Jan. 1, 2008

Stanford, Calif. - The Stanford wrestling team (2-0) will compete in five duals in three states in a three-day span this weekend, taking on Drexel, Lehigh, East Stroudsburg, Princeton and Wagner during an East Coast swing. The Cardinal will face Drexel and Lehigh on Friday, and meet the remaining three squads on Sunday.

Stanford is led by its three senior captains - Tanner Gardner, Josh Zupancic and Phillip Doerner. Gardner, a two-time All-American, is 20-1 on the year and ranked fourth nationally at 125 pounds, while All-American Zupancic is 19-5 and ranked 14th at 157 pounds. Doerner is having the best season of his career with 13 wins.

In addition to Gardner and Zupancic, Stanford returns two other 2007 NCAA qualifiers - 174-pounder Luke Feist (3-3) and 184-pounder Zack Giesen (13-5). Redshirt freshman Lucas Espericueta has had a solid start at 149 pounds (13-6) this year, as has sophomore 197-pounder Jake Johnson (12-7).

The first dual of the weekend will have national implications, as Stanford's two ranked wrestlers are slated to take on Drexel's two ranked wrestlers. At 125 pounds, fourth-ranked Gardner will battle No. 20 Steve Mytych (14-3), the first of two returning NCAA qualifiers for the Dragons. At 157 pounds, No. 14 Zupancic will meet No. 7 Ryan Hluschak (14-1) in a rematch of last year's NCAA seventh place match. In that bout, Zupancic claimed an 11-10 overtime victory to finish seventh nationally. The Dragons are 5-2 on the year and are coming off of a fourth place finish in the Colonial Athletic Association. The dual is set to begin at noon Friday at the Daskalakis Athletic Center on the Drexel campus.

The Cardinal then heads to Lehigh for a 7 p.m. dual on Friday, looking to avenge last year's 34-9 loss to the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh is 4-9 on the year, but has faced a tough schedule of five ranked opponents. The squad, which finished fourth in the EIWA last season, returns four of its seven 2007 NCAA qualifiers, but only two of them have wrestled in duals this season. Sophomore 184-pounder David Craig is the only ranked wrestler for the Mountain Hawks (No. 17) and is 6-4 on the year. Senior 157-pounder David Nakasone (7-8) is the team's other active NCAA qualifier, while junior 149-pounder Trevor Chinn leads the squad with 10 wins on the year.

On Sunday, the Cardinal begins a full day of wrestling with a noon dual against East Stroudsburg at Dillon Gym on the Princeton campus. The East Stroudsburg squad (0-5) finished 12th in the EIWA last season, and is led by sophomore heavyweight Chris Birchler's 15 wins.

The Cardinal continues action against the host Princeton Tigers (0-3) at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The Tigers finished last in the EIWA last season, but have been sparked by freshman 125-pounder Tony Comunale and senior heavyweight Sam Ritter so far this year.

The weekend concludes at the New York Athletic Club in New York City, where Stanford will square off with Wagner College (0-4-1) at 6 p.m. Sunday. The Seahawks, now an independent program, finished 11th in the Colonial Athletic Association last year and are led by junior 157-pounder Sean Quinn (7-6) and senior 141-pounder Mike Tutunjian (7-6).

Stanford begins the Pac-10 conference season against Boise State on Jan. 18.

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