This Sunday the Stanford wrestling team heads to San Luis Obispo to take on a Pac-12 foe, the Cal Poly Mustangs.
The Cardinal (5-5, 1-1 Pac-12) and the Mustangs (3-2, 2-1) have been to the same tournaments this year — the Vegas Invitational, the Reno Tournament of Champions, and the Midlands Tournament. In the two earlier tournaments, Vegas and Reno, Cal Poly finished higher than Stanford.
But since then Stanford has wrestled much better. At the Midlands Tournament Stanford finished 25th, eight spots better than Cal Poly.
The Cardinal and the Mustangs have wrestled three teams in common so far this season, and both are 2-1. Both teams dominated Cal State Bakersfield and won close meets against Boise State. But against American, Stanford almost pulled out a win while Cal Poly lost by double digits.
The main event of Sunday’s dual will be the match between Stanford’s No. 1 Nick Amuchastegui (13-0) and Cal Poly’s No. 4 Ryan DesRoches (19-0). DesRoches, a two-time NCAA Tournament qualifier who has twice finished third in the Pac-12 Tournament, has already won three tournaments this year. Amuchastegui has won the Pac-12 Tournament and finished second on two occasions, including last year.
This match will undoubtedly be the toughest test so far for both Amuchastegui and DesRoches. There is a lot at stake because the winner of this match will likely have the No. 1 seed at the Pac-12 tournament and a top-three seed at the NCAA Tournament.
Stanford’s other ranked wrestler, No. 7 Ryan Mango at 133 pounds, looks to improve upon his 19-5 record and keep his 10-0 perfect.
The Mustangs have two ranked wrestlers other than DesRoches — No. 2 Boris Novachkov at 141 pounds and No. 16 Ryan Smith at 197 pounds. Novachkov has had an extremely successful career at Cal Poly, winning two tournaments this season and finishing fifth at another. He has lost just two matches this year, has won the Pac-12 Tournament twice and last season finished second at the NCAA Tournament.
Smith recently defeated the No. 14 197-pounder in the country, Danny Mitchell of American. Smith will be a tough match for Alan Yen, Stanford’s starter at 197 pounds.
This match is crucial in determining momentum for the remainder of the rest of the season for the Cardinal. Although the squad is wrestling very well — maybe the best it has all year — it is coming off of a loss. A win this weekend would greatly boost the team’s confidence and would be a great reward for the team’s hard work and improvement, while individual wins are also very important for seeding in the Pac-12 Tournament.
The key to the dual will be the Cardinal wrestlers’ ability to put multiple moves together. Against Boise State and American, they were able to execute one move after another, reshooting after an opponent’s attack and going for pinning combinations after gaining control. The Cardinal has the ability and the talent to win this Sunday, and it is crucial that it takes care of business against its Pac-12 opponent.