Gardner, Zupancic Head to Quarters; Four Still Alive At NCAAs

March 20, 2008

St. Louis, Mo. - Seniors Tanner Gardner and Josh Zupancic highlighted the Stanford action in the second session of the NCAA Wrestling Championships tonight, winning critical matches to advance to the championship quarterfinals. Zupancic stunned the nation's fifth-ranked 157-pounder, while Gardner posted an impressive win by technical fall. Both wrestlers will seek All-America honors in tomorrow's first bout, while two other Stanford wrestlers will battle back through the consolation bracket.

After besting the nation's 12th-ranked 125-pounder in the opening round, Gardner (40-1) continued his march to the championship quarterfinals with a win in the second round. The fourth-seeded senior tilted Northern Colorado's Anthony Mustari four separate times, before finally winning by technical fall midway through the second period.

The second-round win was Gardner's 40th of the year, making him the first wrestler in school history to record two career 40-win seasons. Tomorrow morning, Gardner, Stanford's all-time win leader, will wrestle fifth-seeded Charlie Falck of Iowa to advance to the championship semifinals and become the program's first three-time All-American.

Zupancic, who ousted three seeded opponents in last year's tournament, immediately proved his intention to do nothing less at this year's event. After taking care of a top-20 wrestler in the first round, 12th-seeded Zupancic stunned fifth-seeded C.P. Schlatter of Minnesota, 5-4, to advance to the quarterfinals. Zupancic fell behind, 4-1, in the first period, but recorded a key nearfall and decisive riding time in the second period. The Cardinal senior escaped and retained his riding time in the final period, and held on for the 5-4 upset.

Zupancic's win avenged a close 1-0 loss at the hands of Schlatter at last season's NCAA Championships. Zupancic (38-6) nabbed his 119th career win, and will wrestle unseeded Jonny Bonilla-Bowman of Hofstra in the quarterfinals tomorrow morning. Zupancic will be looking for a spot in the semifinals and his second consecutive All-America honor. He would be the third wrestler in program history earn multiple All-America honors.

Junior Luke Feist (17-11) battled the second-seeded wrestler in the 174-pound bracket, Michigan's Steve Luke, but dropped a 5-2 decision. He will begin his battle back through the consolation bracket tomorrow, taking on either Alex Dolly of Northern Iowa or Shane Riccio of Bucknell.

Sophomore Zack Giesen (25-11) was pinned by top-seeded Jake Varner or Iowa State (2:06). He will resume the tournament tomorrow, facing either Christopher Honeycutt of Edinboro or Matthew Gevelinger of Brown in the 184-pound consolation bracket.

Lucas Espericueta fell to No. 14 Cesar Grajales of Penn, 7-5, in his second match of the tournament. The 149-pounder ends his freshman season with a 25-14 record, and a place among the top-five winningest freshmen in school history.

Action begins tomorrow at 10 a.m. (CT) with two consolation rounds and the championship quarterfinals.

Stanford Results
2007 NCAA Championships
St. Louis, Mo.

125 pounds

Tanner Gardner (1-0): dec. No. 12 Steve Mytych (Drexel), 3-0; tech. fall Anthony Mustari (Northern Colorado), 15-0.

149 pounds

Lucas Espericueta (0-2): fall to Edward McCray (Gardner-Webb), 1:19; lost to No. 14 Cesar Grajales (Penn), 7-5.

157 pounds

Josh Zupancic (2-0): maj. dec. No. 16 Jeff Marsh (Michigan), 13-4; dec. No. 5 C.P. Schlatter (Minnesota), 5-4.

174 pounds

Luke Feist (1-1): maj. dec. Alex Caruso (Lehigh), 9-0; lost to No. 2 Steve Luke (Michigan), 5-2.

184 pounds

Zack Giesen (1-1): pinned Chris Daggett (Liberty), 6:27; fall to No. 1 Jake Varner (Iowa State), 2:06.

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