By Arman Kassam
In a pair of dual meets this past Friday and Sunday, No. 20 Stanford men’s wrestling (9-3, 2-1 Pac-12) claimed victory at No. 18 Oregon State (4-8, 0-2 Pac-12) for the first time in Cardinal history and decimated Cal Poly (0-8, 0-3 Pac-12) on Senior Night. Stanford tripped and faltered in its previous two dual meets, suffering significant losses to both Purdue (7-9, 3-6 Big-10) and Indiana (5-12, 1-8 Big-10), but now the kings have returned to Camelot.
Historic win over Beavers
The Friday win against the Beavers set a flurry of records: the first time the Cardinal has won at Corvallis, the first time Stanford has beaten Oregon State two seasons in a row and the match that tied up current Stanford head coach Jason Borrelli with former coach Chris Horpel for the most career dual wins (105).
The Cardinal expected its Friday opponents to be tough, especially in the weight-class extremes; the Beavers boast No. 3 Ronnie Bresser in the 125-pound class and No. 4 Amar Dhesi in the heavyweight class. No. 20 junior Gabriel Townsell held out for the first four minutes of his match before losing to a fall by Bresser. However, the first Beaver victory was anything but clean and tidy – the Beaver tossed his head gear in celebration and got docked a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Redshirt senior and Cardinal team captain Mason Pengilly leveled Oregon State’s ego in the following bout, winning against Devan Turner in a 4-0 decision at 133 pounds.
The next Cardinal win came in the 149-pound match, when No. 15 redshirt sophomore Requir van der Merwe demonstrated how he got the moniker “the South African Tornado.” The Cardinal wrestler, securing his 21st win of the season, did not let Josh Reyes swipe any more than one point in a clean 6-1 decision.
Fifth-year Paul Fox followed with a major decision over Zach Bresser at 157 pounds, and sophomore Dominick Mandarino came out on top in the 165-pound class after sweeping and pinning Aaron Olmos in overtime. Harvard transfer Rico Stormer followed up with yet another Cardinal win, this time in a close 7-6 fashion over Colt Doyle in the 174-pound class. At the outset of the final period, Doyle had a 4-1 lead that promptly disintegrated after a series of escape points and a last-minute takedown from Stormer.
The final Stanford win of the night came at the hands of redshirt sophomore Nathan Traxler, who is currently ranked 12th in the nation at 197 pounds. The team captain currently leads the team with 24 wins, having only lost a single, close dual match against a longtime rival from Purdue. Traxler took down Jamarcus Grant in a 7-1 decision, garnering enough team points to clinch the victory against the Beavers outright. As expected, the Oregon behemoth was only deadly in the extremes, and thanks to Stanford’s core talent in the 149- to 197-pound range, the behemoth did not stand a chance.
Victory continues over Mustangs
Two days later, the match against Cal Poly felt like a victory lap for the Cardinal. Winning nine out of 10 matches at Maples Pavilion, Stanford celebrated a dominant 32-5 performance.
Seniors Nainoa Calvo, Walker Dempsey, Austin Flores, Paul Fox, Mason Pengilly, Brian Rossi and Rico Stormer were all recognized at a ceremony during the meet’s intermission. Rossi earned a 4-2 victory over Benny Martinez in the 125-pound class, securing his first dual victory since 2017. Pengilly followed with a 3-1 decision over Yoshito Funakoshi at 133 pounds, and Fox claimed his 94th career win over Brawley Lamer at 157 pounds. Junior Brandon Kier (141 pounds), redshirt freshman Jack Ramalia (149 pounds), redshirt sophomore Jared Hill (165 pounds), Stormer (174 pounds), Traxler (197 pounds) and redshirt freshman Haydn Maley (heavyweight) all collected wins as well.
The history-making, record-breaking events of this past weekend prove that Cardinal hegemony has been restored. But this talented squad has come to understand the delicate value of that hegemony. Led by the fearless Borrelli, the kings have returned to their castle — and this time, they plan on staying.
Stanford prepares for its final dual meet of the season against No. 7 Nebraska (11-5, 5-4 Big-10), which will take place in Lincoln, Feb. 23rd at 5:00 p.m. PST.
Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’ stanford.edu.