Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton Up Next For Cardinal

Feb. 6, 2008

Stanford, Calif. - The Stanford wrestling team continues Pac-10 duals this weekend, taking on the Cal Poly Mustangs on Friday and the Cal State Fullerton Titans on Sunday. Friday's match is set for 7 p.m. at Mott Gymnasium in San Luis Obispo. Sunday's match will be held on the Farm, beginning at noon in Burnham Pavilion.

Sunday's dual will be the last at home for the Cardinal this season, and the last on the Farm for four seniors: Tanner Gardner, Josh Zupancic, Phillip Doerner and Bobby Pease. All four will be honored as part of Senior Day prior to the match.

The Cardinal (11-3, 4-2 Pac-10) is having one of its best seasons in history. The team's 11 wins are the most in over three decades, and nine of the squad's starters enter the weekend with .500 or better records.

Gardner, a two-time All-American and the nation's sixth-ranked 125-pounder, is 32-1 on the year and undefeated in duals. As the Berryton, Kans. native nears the end of his career, he is closing in on two Cardinal records. With 134 career wins, Gardner is just four short of overtaking Matt Gentry as Stanford's career win leader. He is within two pins of matching a single-season pin record set by Chris Horpel in 1975. Gardner leads the Pac-10 in both wins and pins, and is among the top-10 nationally in both categories.

Zupancic (30-5), Stanford's other returning All-American and top-10 wrestler, is on a season-high 11-bout win streak. Ranked No. 10 nationally, the 157-pounder has posted four consecutive major decisions, and secured his second-straight 30-win season on Sunday.

Three more Stanford wrestlers, sophomore 197-pounder Jake Johnson (22-9), sophomore 184-pounder Zack Giesen (21-6) and redshirt freshman 149-pounder Lucas Espericueta (22-8) are also having impressive seasons. All three have already reached the 20-win plateau, and the trio has racked up a combined 144 dual points. Espericueta leads the Pac-10 and is third in the nation with 11 major decisions on the year. Senior heavyweight Phillip Doerner has already more than doubled his career win total with 16 wins.

Cal Poly (5-4, 4-2 Pac-10) finished fourth in the Pac-10 last season, with seven individual placers. All seven of those wrestlers return, including defending Pac-10 Champion Darrell Vasquez at 133 pounds. In addition to its five returning NCAA qualifiers, the Mustangs return Chad Mendes, a former 125-pounder who is now the nation's top-ranked wrestler at 141 pounds. The night's most anticipated match will occur at 157 pounds, where Stanford's No. 10 Zupancic will look to avenge an early season loss to the Mustangs' No. 13 Chase Pami.

Cal State Fullerton (9-5, 6-1 Pac-10) finished seventh in the Pac-10 last season, but is one of the strongest teams in the league this year. The Titans are the only Pac-10 team ranked in the USA Today/InterMat/NWCA top-25, coming in at No. 24 nationally this week. All-American heavyweight Wade Sauer (No. 5), leads four Titans who are nationally ranked. TJ Dillashaw (No. 15 at 133 pounds) and defending Pac-10 Champion Morgan Atkinson (No. 10 at 149 pounds) both return from 2007 NCAA appearances, as does 165-pounder Bryan Tice. Senior Ian Murphy rounds out the ranked wrestlers for Fullerton at No. 12 at 184 pounds.

The Cardinal wraps up the regular-season at Arizona State on Feb. 17. The team will compete for the Pac-10 Championship, Mar. 2-3 in Eugene, Ore.

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