Gardner, Zupancic Cap NCAA Championships With Highest Career Finishes

March 22, 2008

St. Louis, Mo. - Seniors Tanner Gardner and Josh Zupancic wrapped up a pair of All-American finishes this morning at the NCAA Championships, capping two of the most successful wrestling careers in Stanford history. Gardner took fifth place at 125 pounds, while Zupancic came in sixth at 157 pounds. Both finishes were good for All-America honors and were the highest of the wrestlers' careers.

Zupancic and Gardner's top-eight finishes marked the third time in program history that two Stanford wrestlers have earned All-America honors in the same year. The pair also accomplished the feat last year, and was the first to do so since Len Borchers and Terry Crenshaw were both All-Americans more than four decades ago.

Both wrestlers started the final day of competition in the consolation semifinals, and both suffered close losses to drop to fifth place matches. Gardner fell behind 4-1 to defending national champion Paul Donahoe of Nebraska, but battled back to trim the lead to 4-3 in the third period. His comeback attempt fell short, however, and Donahoe finished with a 5-3 decision.

Zupancic lost a close decision to No. 4 Brandon Becker of Indiana in his consolation semifinal, 3-0. Becker's reversal in the second period made the difference, sending 12th-seeded Zupancic to the fifth place match.

In the 125-pound fifth place match, Gardner finished his career with some revenge. The senior bested Iowa's Charlie Falck, who knocked him out of the championship bracket earlier in the tournament, with a decisive 8-2 decision. Falck took an early lead with a takedown in the first period, but from there it was all Gardner. After scoring a takedown and an escape to take the lead in the second period, Gardner took Falck down and turned him in the third to finish with a six-point win and claim fifth place.

Gardner (43-3) wraps up his career as arguably the most successful wrestler in school history. He leaves Stanford as the program's career win leader with a 145-38 record, the school's only three-time All-American, and the only Cardinal wrestler to post multiple 40-win seasons. His win for fifth place this morning shattered his own single season win record, bringing his total up to 43 on the year.

Zupancic lost by technical fall to top-seeded Gregor Gillespie of Edinboro in the 157-pound fifth place match, 16-0. The senior ends his Stanford career with a 120-34 record, and the third-highest win total in program history. He joins Gardner and Chris Horpel and the school's only wrestlers to earn multiple All-America honors.

The Cardinal wraps up its 2007-08 campaign having had one of its best seasons in school history. The team posted the second-highest dual win total in program history (13), and recorded its best-ever Pac-10 finish.

Team standings will be officially determined after the finals later tonight, but the Cardinal is eyeing a top-20 finish, one of its highest in school history. With two of the conference's four All-Americans, Stanford will also likely post the highest national finish in the Pac-10.

Stanford Results
2007 NCAA Championships
St. Louis, Mo.

125 pounds

Tanner Gardner (5-2, 5th place): dec. No. 12 Steve Mytych (Drexel), 3-0; tech. fall Anthony Mustari (Northern Colorado), 16-0; lost to No. 4 Charlie Falck (Iowa), 5-4; dec. No. 14 Anthony Robles (Arizona State), 5-3 (SV); dec. No. 8 Brandon Precin (Northwestern), 5-0; lost to No. 3 Paul Donahoe (Nebraska), 5-3; dec. No. 4 Charlie Falck (Iowa), 8-2.

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 (3-3): maj. dec. No. 16 Jeff Marsh (Michigan), 13-4; dec. No. 5 C.P. Schlatter (Minnesota), 5-4; dec. No. 14 Jonny Bonilla-Bowman (Hofstra), 9-8; lost to No. 8 Jordan Leen (Cornell), 9-2; lost to No. 4 Brandon Becker (Indiana), 3-0; lost by tech. fall to No. 1 Gregor Gillespie (Edinboro), 16-0.

174 pounds

Luke Feist (1-2): maj. dec. Alex Caruso (Lehigh), 9-0; lost to No. 2 Steve Luke (Michigan), 5-2; fall to Alex Dolly (Northern Iowa), 5:53.

184 pounds

Zack Giesen (2-2): pinned Chris Daggett (Liberty), 6:27; fall to No. 1 Jake Varner (Iowa State), 2:06; dec. No. 19 Christopher Honeycutt (Edinboro), 5-3; fall to No. 18 Kurt Brenner (West Virginia), 6:53.

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