Stanford Hosts Cal Poly In Regular-Season Finale

Feb. 9, 2009

THIS WEEK: The Stanford wrestling team (7-13-1, 2-5 Pac-10) returns to The Farm this week to host its final competition of the regular-season, aiming to get one last tune-up before next month's Pac-10 Championships. The Cardinal is set to meet conference rival Cal Poly on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Burnham Pavilion. The match will be the last at home for the squad's lone senior, 197-pounder Luke Feist.

ABOUT CAL POLY: The Mustangs (3-10, 0-5 Pac-10) finished sixth in the conference last season, and had nine Pac-10 placers. Five of those placers return, including 2008 NCAA qualifiers Chase Pami and Boris Novachkov. Pami, the defending Pac-10 champ at 157 pounds, is ranked 12th nationally, has competed at the last two NCAA Championships and owns a 17-7 record on the year. Novachkov took third at 133 pounds last year, but has only been competing unattached this season. Other returning Pac-10 placers include 125-pounder Micah Ferguson (5th), 149-pounder Eric Maldonado (5th) and heavyweight Jim Powers (7th). Stanford defeated Cal Poly, 27-16, in San Luis Obispo last year.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Pac-10 Championships will be held in Fullerton this year, March 1-2. The Cardinal will send 10 wrestlers to the two-day tournament, where they will compete for individual and team titles as well as trips to the 2009 NCAA Championships in St. Louis.

SO FAR THIS SEASON: Facing a number of injuries in its upper weights, Stanford has been forced to forfeit a weight class in 18 of its 21 duals. Despite often being short-handed, the Cardinal has won seven duals, including three of its last four. Last week, Stanford beat traditional powerhouse Arizona State for just the second time in school history, 20-19, before being defeated by No. 11 Boise State on the road, 38-3.

FOND FAREWELL: Sunday's dual will mark the last at home for Stanford's lone senior, Luke Feist. A three-time Pac-10 placer and two-time NCAA qualifer, Feist has posted a 77-60 record in four years of competition. As a freshman in 2006, he took fifth at the Pac-10 Championships and racked up 17 wins. In 2007, he registered a career-best 25 wins, placed fourth in the conference and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships. As a junior last season, Feist went 17-12, took third in the Pac-10 and earned his way back to nationals. This year, he leads the squad with 11 pins and owns an 18-11 record. He will leave The Farm as one of the 10 winningest wrestlers in school history, while also ranking among the school's top five in career pins.

PINS A PLENTY...: Entering the week, Luke Feist stands in sole possession of fifth place on the school's career top-10 list with 25 pins in his four years. Currently second in the Pac-10 in the category, Feist is four pins short of fourth place on the school's career chart (Chris Horpel `75 holds the all-time school record with 56). The fifth-year senior has secured 11 of his 18 wins by fall this season, enough to put him among the school's top-10 single-season leaders as well (Tanner Gardner `08 holds the single-season record with 19 pins in 2007-08).

...AND WINS TOO: Luke Feist added another win to his career tally last week, bringing his impressive total to 77. The senior is currently 10th on the school's all-time win chart, two short of ninth-place Imad Kharbush (2001-05).

FAB FROSH: Redshirt freshman Nick Amuchastegui is one of the winningest rookies in school history, continuing his impressive first-year run at 165 pounds. On Jan. 16, Amuchastegui became just the 11th Stanford freshman to record a 20-win season. Now 25-5 on the year, Amuchastegui has tied the mark teammate Lucas Espericueta set last year and now ranks fourth on the program's freshman win chart. Only two Stanford freshmen, Matt Gentry (2002) and Dave Lee (1985) have ever reached 30 wins as newcomers. With 72 dual points (24 more than his closest teammate), Amuchastegui has quickly established himself as the most consistent wrestler in the Cardinal lineup.

NIFTY FIFTY: Sophomore Lucas Espericueta joined the 50-win club last Friday, using a technical fall over Arizona State's Te Edwards to secure the milestone victory. Junior Jake Johnson picked up his 50th career win at the Reno Tournament earlier this year and has since increased his career total to 61. Luke Feist (77 wins) and Zack Giesen (60 wins) are the only other current Stanford wrestlers in the 50-win club.

20 AND BEYOND: Three Stanford wrestlers - junior Jake Johnson, sophomore Lucas Espericueta and freshman Nick Amuchastegui - have already secured 20-win seasons. Last year, five Stanford wrestlers, including Johnson and Espericueta, reached the 20-win plateau. Junior Zack Giesen (2006-07 and 2007-08) and senior Luke Feist (2006-07) are the only other current Cardinal wrestlers who have posted more than 20 wins in a single year. Feist needs two more wins to do so again this season.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Stanford wrestlers have faced some of the nation's top competition this year, taking on 45 ranked opponents so far. To date, the Cardinal has pulled four upsets in those matches, with big wins coming from Luke Feist, Jake Johnson and Nick Amuchastegui.

TOURNEY TITLES: Two Stanford wrestlers claimed tournament titles in November. On Nov. 15, redshirt freshman Nick Amuchastegui upended a three-time NCAA qualifier who was ranked 11th nationally to win the 165-pound crown at the Cowboy Open. On Nov. 23, junior Zack Giesen pinned three straight opponents to take the 184-pound title at the Fullerton Open.

STANFORD WATCH LIST: Redshirt freshman Nick Amuchastegui headlines the Stanford wrestlers to watch this week. Despite recently ending the longest winning streak by any team member (12 matches), Amuchastegui holds an impressive 18-3 mark in duals, has pinned six opponents and has only lost once in 2009. Jake Johnson (27-14) leads the team in both wins and major decisions (9), while Luke Feist has picked up a pin in all but one week of the season and only given up bonus points once this year. Freshman Matt Sencenbaugh enters the week on the longest current win streak, having won his last three bouts at 125 pounds.

PAC-10 RANKINGS: In the most recent Pac-10 individual rankings (Feb. 6), three Stanford wrestlers were listed in the top half of their weight class. Freshman Nick Amuchastegui was the top-ranked 165-pounder, while junior Jake Johnson (184 pounds) and sophomore Lucas Espericueta (157 pounds) both came in third in their respective weight classes.

TOP NOTCH RETURNERS: Stanford's 17 returners are highlighted by a trio that qualified for last year's NCAA Tournament. Junior Zack Giesen and senior Luke Feist have both competed at the last two NCAA Championships. Lucas Espericueta had one of the best freshman seasons in school history last year, winning 25 matches and qualifying for the NCAA Championships at 149 pounds.

A NEW LOOK: Stanford is under the guidance of a new head coach this season - former Cardinal assistant Jason Borrelli. Borrelli, a 2006 graduate of Central Michigan, was an integral part of the staff that led Stanford to one of its most successful seasons in school history last year. Working with the lower weights, Borrelli helped the Cardinal win 13 duals, post its highest Pac-10 finish in school history, its second-highest national finish and send a program-best five wrestlers to the NCAA Championships.

FRESH FACES: Stanford has seven newcomers on its roster this year, and three of those rookies have already been part of the starting lineup. Matt Sencenbaugh (Auburn, Wash.), Victor Haug (Emigrant, Mont.) and Timmy Boone (Poway, Calif.) are already playing a vital role for the Cardinal in their first collegiate seasons. Sencenbaugh is on a three-match win streak, and has picked up bonus points in two of his last three matches.

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