Oregon State wrestling reflects on three-peat performance
STANFORD, CALIF. – It was the Oregon State show Sunday at Maples Pavilion as the No. 18 Beavers earned their third straight conference championship in front of a bus-load of fans in orange and black. The Beavers qualified eight individuals for the NCAA championships on March 20-22 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
“Our goal is to make it to Saturday,” said Oregon State coach Jim Zalesky, “If we get eight guys to Saturday, we have eight All-Americans.”
Joey Palmer (133 lbs.), Joey Delgado (141 lbs.), Scott Sakaguchi (149 lbs.), R.J. Peña (157 lbs.), Joe Latham (174 lbs.), Austin Morehead (184 lbs.), Taylor Meeks (197 lbs.) and Amarveer Dhesi (285 lbs.) all received automatic berths with top-three finishes in each of their respective weight classes at the Pac-12 championships.
[Related video: Oregon State secures third straight conference title]
“We peaked at the right time, but it’s not the end of the road,” said Palmer who had a breakout performance in the 133 class with a third-place finish, earning him his first NCAA berth.
The Beavers’ third consecutive conference championship is the first time a Pac-12 team has won more than three straight titles since Arizona State won six in a row from 1985-91.
“I’m not even thinking about myself right now,” said Peña. “I’m just so proud of my team.”
The 2012 Pac-12 champion and All-American captured his second conference championship in a dominating 8-0 win over Joel Smith of Arizona State.
[Related: Photos: 2014 Pac-12 Wrestling Championships]
Freshmen came up big in the Beavers’ title run, including Joey Delgado who claimed his first championship and NCAA berth in the final match against CSU Bakersfield’s Ian Nickell.
“I have so many great role models on the team to learn from like (Scott) Sakaguchi and (Taylor) Meeks,” said Delgado. “Having their support makes it so much easier to go into [championships].”
It will be that support the Beavers share with one another that'll carry them into the NCAA championships beginning March 20.