In its final home meet of the season, Stanford wrestling scored its first decisive victory over a Pac-10 opponent when it defeated visiting Cal State Bakersfield 23-14. The Cardinal (10-8-1, 2-4-1 Pac-10) lost only two matches to the Roadrunners (7-6, 2-5) and forfeited one weight class (heavyweight) due to injury.
After the forfeit to start the meet, Stanford freshman Ryan Mango took on Bakersfield’s Frank Lomas in the 125-pound weight class. The match was close through the first two periods, and at the start of the third period, the score was tied 4-4. In the third period, Lomas scored a quick reversal at 0:11 to take a 6-4 lead. However, Mango refused to give in, getting an escape to draw within one point at 0:38. He proceeded to score a takedown and grab a 7-6 lead at 1:12 and hung on for a tough 48 seconds to preserve his lead and get the victory, despite a nearly-successful escape attempt in the closing seconds. Mango’s record for the season is now 21-11.
“I was down, so I knew I just had to stay composed and come back,” Mango said. “One takedown would get the match for me, so I just tried to keep my composure and go out there relaxed.”
When asked about holding off the last-second escape attempt, Mango responded, “That’s an area I’ve struggled in all year. The match was on the line, and I knew I had to do it. It wasn’t that tough — it just came.”
After the win at 125, the next three weight classes were split 2-1 in favor of the Card. Redshirt junior Justin Paulsen and redshirt senior Tyler Parker won the 133- and 149-pound weight classes, respectively. However, freshman Bret Baumbach’s struggles continued at 141, where he was defeated 15-0 for a technical fall by Bakersfield’s Elijah Nacita.
“Bret’s performance wasn’t what we were looking for,” said head coach Jason Borrelli. “He’s really in a tough stretch here, and we have to get through it.”
The meet’s next close match came at 157 pounds, where redshirt freshman Mike Kent and Bakersfield’s Andrew Balch wrestled each other to a standstill. Through the first two periods, the score was 1-0 in Balch’s favor on an escape at 1:27 in the second period. In the third period, Kent started down and scored a quick escape to tie it at 1-1. From there, Kent survived a last-second takedown attempt and won 2-1 after getting the bonus point for riding time.
Stanford proceeded to win the next three weight classes to secure the dual. However, freshman Richard Kessler was unable to replicate his recent success in the meet’s final match, falling to Riley Orozco 8-3.
“We’re finally going out there healthy and wrestling like the team I know we can be,” Borrelli said. “That was almost as happy as I’ve been all year with our guys’ performance. Everyone, top to bottom, went out and wrestled hard and didn’t stop before the seven minutes was up. When you do that, good things happen.”
The team then traveled to Tempe, Ariz. to take on Arizona State (9-7, 4-2) on Sunday. In the beginning, it seemed as though the Cardinal would be able to continue riding its momentum from Friday’s match. The meet started at the 165-pound weight class, and the Card reeled off four straight victories, including a major decision by redshirt sophomore Nick Amuchastegui at 165.
However, in the end the Sun Devils proved to be too much for Stanford, as they took the remaining six matches after Kessler won at 197. The Card suffered two close losses at 133 (Paulsen) and 149 (Parker) — losing both matches by one point. The final score was 24-13 in favor of Arizona State.
With its dual-meet season now completed, the next challenge for Stanford is the Pac-10 Championships, which will be held in Davis, Calif. on Feb. 26-27. The Cardinal’s best hope for victory lies with Amuchastegui and redshirt junior Zack Giesen, who are both currently first in the conference in their weight classes — 165 pounds and 184 pounds, respectively.
Borrelli believes that Stanford has a significant amount of momentum heading into Pac-10s — and beyond to the NCAA tournament.
“Right now, the guys are starting to get healthy,” Borrelli said. “Once you start to get healthy and you have a win like that, it does a lot for your confidence.”