Pac-12 wrestlers to duel in the desert Saturday
The Pac-12 Wrestling Championships come to Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday and will feature some of the most exciting collegiate wrestling talent in the nation. Athletes from 10 weight classes and six teams will go head-to-head for the right to be crowned Pac-12 champions.
Pac-12 Networks will broadcast the event live from Wells Fargo Arena starting at 4 p.m. PT.
Oregon State looks to defend its Pac-12 title with six returning wrestlers who competed in the 2012 NCAA championships. The Beavers will not only be going for a repeat, but also a fourth Pac-12 title under seventh-year head coach Jim Zalesky. All-American Mike Mangrum, who boasts 34 wins, is looking to earn another crown in the 141-pound weight class. Senior Chad Hanke has excelled in the heavyweight class, reeling off 16-straight wins to give him a total of 31 this season. Scott Sakaguchi competed at a high level at 149 pounds throughout the year, ranking No. 6/8/11 in the country by The Open Mat, Intermat and D1 College Wrestling, respectively. Junior RJ Pena is among four OSU wrestlers who have 20 or more wins so far during the 2012-13 season. Pena ranks in the top 10 at 157 and is OSU’s leader in pins this season. The Beavers head into the Pac-12 Championships coming off a solid campaign, boasting a No. 9 national ranking by the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Coaches polls, respectively, with a unit of six wrestlers combining for a total of 17 rankings in the three polls.
Boise State enters the Pac-12 Championships coming off a second-place finish in last year's Conference Championships, scoring 129 team points in last year’s event. The Broncos return four 2012 NCAA tournament qualifiers, three of which have been ranked among the top 20 in their respective weight classes throughout the 2012-13 season. Maturing from last season, BSU now has relative experience on the floor with a pair of talented juniors in Jacob Swartz and J.T. Felix, as well as a group of seniors in Brian Owen, George Ivanov, Jason Chamberlain and Brent Chriswell. With the Broncos returning eight of the 10 Pac-12 champions from last year, Boise State is aiming for a seventh overall league crown and the fifth under 11th-year head coach Greg Randall.
Stanford arrives at the Pac-12 Championships on the heels of a third-place finish in 2012 - one place higher than it had finished in 2011 - and has the potential to place even higher in this year’s championship. It should be noted, however, that gone from the Cardinal squad is NCAA All-American Nick Amuchastegui. He is one of four Cardinal wrestlers all-time to earn multiple All-America honors in his career at Stanford, finishing fourth at NCAA’s at 165 pounds in 2010 and second at 174 pounds in 2011. Leading the squad this season is junior 165-pounder Bret Baumbach. He registered his 20th win this season in the Cardinal’s heated dual meet in Bakersfield, Calif. Junior Dan Scherer continues his impressive run in the heavyweight class this year. He moved up two weight classes from two seasons ago and has composed a remarkable run so far.
Arizona State returns to the Pac-12 Championships led by two outstanding seniors, Jake Meredith and Levi Cooper. Meredith returned this season after missing the entire 2011-12 campaign due to injury. A 2010-11 NCAA championship participant and Pac-12 champion at 184 pounds, Meredith moved up to 197 pounds this season and has established himself as one of nation’s elite grapplers. He has been ranked in the nation’s top-10 for the majority of the year. Cooper is ASU’s lone returning All-American, earning the honor as a sophomore two years ago. He has been consistently ranked for the past two seasons and has compiled a 81-50 career record. The Sun Devils enter the championship weekend with four ranked wrestlers. Following Cooper and Meredith, ASU’s final two ranked wrestlers are 174 pounder Blake Stouffer, who is No. 11 in Intermat and No. 12 in D1 College Wrestling, and 184 pounder Kevin Radford, who is ranked 21st in the nation by D1.
Cal Poly has made progress from its sixth-place finish a year ago. Still looking to improve, second-year head coach Brendan Buckley has a solid group of wrestlers entering this year’s Pac-12 Championships. The Mustangs’ roster includes seven of 10 starters from a year ago. The lone returning NCAA qualifier and Pac-12 champion, 174-pounder Dominic Kastl, has moved up from 165 pounds to fill the shoes vacated by 2012 NCAA All-American Ryan DesRoches. Freshman 133-pounder Devon Lotito has 27 wins on the season and is ranked No. 21 by D1 College Wrestling. Posting a 11-12 record, 141-pounder Brandan Rocha has been strong in competition this season. Junior Kyle Chene finished with a 18-14 record on the year.
CSU Bakersfield enters the Pac-12 Championships with a much-improved squad from a year ago. Only posting two wins last season, the Roadrunners have been solid in this year’s campaign, tripling their win total from a year ago and posting a 2-3 record in Pac-12 competition. Leading the Roadrunners’ charge, redshirt freshman Bryce Hammond has held down CSUB’s spot at 174 throughout the year and is looking at his first Pac-12 Championships. Hammond enters the Conference Championships ranked in the top 20 by Intermat. Tyler Iwamura, CSUB’s lone senior starter, made the finals and placed second at the Reno Tournament of Champions. Iwamura was selected CSUB’s student-athlete of the week for the week of Feb. 4 and has reached the 20-win milestone this year. Sophomore Adam Fierro was ranked No. 1 last year at 165. At 157 this season, Fierro has over 20 wins this season.
Schedule of Events
Saturday, March 2
10:30 a.m. Doors open to the public
11:00 a.m. Session 1 begins
1:30 p.m. Break - Arena Cleared
3:00 p.m. Doors reopen to the public
3:30 p.m. Session 2 begins
5:00 p.m. Championships Finals
7:00 p.m. Team Awards Begin
Competition Time Schedule
11 a.m.-2 p.m. Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Quarterfinals consolations
Arena will be cleared after Session 1
Doors will open at 3pm for Session 2
4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Semifinal Consolations
5:30 p.m. Finals
7:00 p.m. Awards
Fri 8/24 | 5:00pm PTLive