Stanford Continues Conference Run in Oregon

Jan. 29, 2008

Stanford, Calif. - Riding a four-match winning streak, the Stanford wrestling squad (10-2, 3-1 Pac-10) will look to continue its momentum this week in a pair of conference contests against Oregon and Oregon State. Action with the Ducks is set for 7 p.m. on Friday at McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore. The Cardinal will meet the defending Pac-10 Champion Beavers on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore.

Stanford is amidst one of its best seasons in history, and, with five duals remaining, has already matched the second-highest win total in program history (10). Stanford must win all five of its remaining duals to match the 15-win program record set in 1974-75. Nine Cardinal starters boast winning records on the year, and four wrestlers have already reached the 20-win plateau.

Senior All-Americans Tanner Gardner (30-1) and Josh Zupancic (28-5) continue to hold top-10 national rankings, with Gardner No. 6 at 125 pounds and Zupancic No. 10 at 157 pounds. Gardner is making a run at two program records, entering the week just three pins short of the single-season pin record and six wins short of the career win record. Gardner is the Pac-10 leader in both wins (30) and pins (15).

Two newcomers to the starting lineup, redshirt freshman 149-pounder Lucas Espericueta (22-7) and sophomore 197-pounder Jake Johnson (21-8), have also posted impressive campaigns so far. Both secured their first career 20-win seasons last weekend, are second on the team with 48 dual points and have won 11 of 12 dual matches. Espericueta ranks second in the nation with 11 major decisions on the year, and is on a career-high eight-match winning streak. Johnson has won nine of his last ten bouts and posted his 30th career win last weekend.

Sophomore Zack Giesen (19-6), last year's Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, will be looking for his 20th win of the year at 184 pounds on Friday. Senior heavyweight Phillip Doerner has already more than doubled his career win total this year, with 16 wins.

Oregon State captured the Pac-10 title last year with eight conference placewinners and seven NCAA qualifiers. Just three of the Beavers' conference placewinners and two of their NCAA qualifiers return, however. Junior 184-pounder Kyle Bressler and senior heavyweight Travis Gardner return from 2007 NCAA Championship appearances, and senior 149-pounder Kyle Larson made the Championships as a sophomore in 2006. Bressler finished third in the conference last year, and Gardner finished fourth as a 197-pounder. The Beavers are 7-6 overall this season and 4-3 in the Pac-10, with conference losses coming at the hands of Cal State Fullerton, Boise State and Cal State Bakersfield.

Last season, Stanford fell 31-13 to Oregon State in Corvallis. The Cardinal last defeated the Beavers in 2004, with a tie coming at the 2005 meeting. Stanford wrestlers are 0-2 against Oregon State wrestlers this season, with Espericueta and Larson being the only two starters of the two schools to meet.

Oregon (9-9, 0-6 Pac-10) finished eighth in the Pac-10 last year, with six wrestlers placing in the conference. Four conference placers return, and sophomore 174-pounder Ronnie Lee leads the squad as its only returning NCAA qualifier. Lee leads the team with a 20-6 record on the year, while freshman heavyweight Charlie Alexander is having an impressive rookie campaign with an 18-6 record.

Last season, Stanford bested the Ducks at Burnham Pavilion, winning six straight bouts to secure a 26-12 victory.

Following this weekend's action, the Cardinal will meet Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton and Arizona State in three more conference duals. The Pac-10 Championships will be hosted by Oregon in Eugene this year, Mar. 2-3.

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