Cardinal Hits The Home Mats

Jan. 22, 2008

Stanford, Calif. - The Cardinal wrestling team will have a chance to showcase its talent at home this week, wrestling on the Farm for the first time in 2007-08. Stanford will square off with Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday night at 7 p.m., and will take on Menlo College and conference foe Portland State in a pair of duals beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday. Both matches will take place at the Ford Center.

Stanford is having one of its best seasons in program history, with a 7-2 overall record entering this weekend's action. Two-time All-American and defending Pac-10 Champion Tanner Gardner (27-1) is ranked No. 6 nationally at 125 pounds. The Berryton Kans. native will be looking for his career-best 15th pin on Thursday and aims to inch three wins closer to the all-time Stanford win record. Gardner enters the week just nine wins short of Matt Gentry's career win record (138) set in 2005.

At 157 pounds, senior All-American Josh Zupancic (25-5) has upset two top-10 opponents this month, and is also climbing the career win chart (4th, 106). This week, he moved into the No. 10 spot in the national rankings.

In addition to its two All-Americans, a number of other Cardinal wrestlers are having impressive seasons. Sophomore Zack Giesen, the 2007 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, is 17-6 at 184 pounds with a 6-1 record in duals. Redshirt freshman 149-pounder Lucas Espericueta is 8-1 in duals and is second on the team with 37 dual points. Sophomore Jake Johnson is close behind with 18 wins and 36 dual points at 197 pounds.

Stanford opens the weekend against Cal State Bakersfield (5-1, 4-1 Pac-10) on Thursday night, looking to oust the Roadrunners for the second straight year. Last season, Cal State Bakersfield was the Pac-10 runner-up, and had conference placers at nine of the ten weight classes. The Runners return just one of their five 2007 NCAA qualifiers, senior 165-pounder Daniel Atondo (18-9). Atondo and 141-pounder Elijah Nacita have the best dual records on the team at 5-1, and senior 149-pounder Jeremy Doyle leads the squad with 21 wins.

Last season, Stanford won an exciting battle with Cal State Bakersfield, edging the Roadrunners in a tight contest in Bakersfield, 22-21. Led by Giesen's first career pin, the Cardinal won five matches to slip past the Roadrunners.

Stanford wrestlers are 10-11 in previous meetings with Cal State Bakersfield wrestlers this season, with meetings at the Menlo Open, Fullerton Open, Reno Tournament of Champions and Las Vegas Invitational.

Menlo, the 18th-ranked team in the NAIA, is led by Robert Davis, who is seventh-ranked at 165 pounds and Jesse Ruiz, who is sixth-ranked at heavyweight.

Portland State (1-7, 0-5 Pac-10) finished 10th in the conference last year, and did not produce a conference placewinner. The young team is composed of 11 freshmen, five sophomores and six upperclassmen. This season, the Vikings are led by 141-pound sophomore Greg Einerson and 149-pound freshman Alan Dickey, each with eight wins on the year.

Last season, Stanford bested Menlo, 29-14, on Jan. 27 and Portland State, 36-9, on Feb. 11. Stanford wrestlers are 7-5 against Menlo wrestlers this season. Zupancic is the only Cardinal wrestler to meet a PSU wrestler, defeating Brady Garner at the Fullerton Open in November.

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