It was a long afternoon for the Cardinal wrestling team on Sunday. The team lost its third match in a row, this time to No. 11 Missouri (3-1) in Burnham Pavilion by a score of 26-9. Stanford (4-4) won just three of the afternoon’s 10 matches. Top-ranked redshirt senior Nick Amuchastegui, No. 5 junior Ryan Mango and sophomore Dan Scherer each recorded wins at 174 pounds, 133 pounds and heavyweight, respectively.
Both Amuchastegui and Mango looked impressive and won important matches, with Amuchastegui taking on No. 5 Dorian Henderson. The All-American wrestled well both on the mat and on his feet, recording a takedown and an escape and defeating Henderson 3-0. Mango faced off against No. 13 Nathan McCormick in a tough match, eventually earning the decision 9-5.
Both Mango and Amuchastegui faced their toughest tests of the season. Prior to Sunday, Mango had not wrestled a ranked opponent, and Amuchastegui hadn’t faced a top-five wrestler. Their ability to take care of business against top wrestlers in their weight class bodes well for the rest of the season and will help their seeding at the NCAA Tournament in March.
Amuchastegui’s win was his 102nd, bringing him to sixth on the all-time career wins list at Stanford. Amuchastegui won his 100th match against Central Michigan last week with a major decision over the Chippewas’ Anthony Brill.
Another bright spot for the Cardinal was the season debut of redshirt sophomores Bret Baumbach at 165 pounds and Richard Kessler at 197 pounds. Both wrestlers lost but wrestled tough. Baumbach lost 6-2 to No. 13 Zach Toal, and Kessler lost to No. 12 Brent Haynes by a score of 5-3.
But there weren’t too many positives to take from the dual. Redshirt junior Timmy Boone at 149 pounds, freshman Josh Lauderdale at 157 pounds, redshirt junior Spence Patrick at 184 pounds, redshirt junior Matt Sencenbaugh at 125 pounds and sophomore Donovan Halpin at 141 pounds were the other Cardinal wrestlers to lose on Sunday. Of Stanford’s seven losses, three were by major decision and one was by technical fall.
The Cardinal started the season off 4-1 with dominating performances against North Central College, Northern Illinois, Cal State Bakersfield and Menlo College. The team’s loss to top-15 Northwestern in the first dual of the season almost seemed like a fluke after Stanford’s four straight wins.
But since then the Card has lost three straight to Central Michigan, Chattanooga and Missouri, a trio of talented squads. Missouri is ranked eleventh in the nation, and Central Michigan and Chattanooga are undoubtedly the most successful programs in their respective conferences.
Stanford’s duals with Central Michigan and Chattanooga were much closer than the dual against Missouri. Central Michigan won by nine, and Chattanooga won by seven. In both those meets, Stanford was one or two matches from a win.
While Stanford has remained competitive throughout the season, the team still has not recorded a win against a top-25 opponent this year, and one has to wonder how this team will fare against top-tier opponents throughout the rest of the season. In each of Stanford’s losses there have been a few solid individual performances, but the team has yet to put together a complete dual against a high-caliber school.
One thing to note is that Stanford had a very similar start to last year’s season. In 2010 the Cardinal lost its first match, won its next two and proceeded to drop four in a row. But the team bounced back, finishing with a dual record of 9-8. The team also placed 11th at the NCAA Tournament with great individual performances. The team has three tournaments to find its stride before its next dual against Boise State on Jan. 5.
Next, the Cardinal will travel to Las Vegas for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational on Dec. 2-3.