After 616 days since last competing on campus, No. 14 Cardinal wrestling will host No. 4 Oklahoma State in its home opener on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Maples Pavilion. Stanford is coming off a strong win with seven champions at the Menlo Opener last Sunday and is looking to extend that victory against Oklahoma State.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s duel against Stanford will be Oklahoma State’s first competition of the season.
Oklahoma sophomore AJ Ferrari at 197 pounds is a formidable opponent, as is junior Daton Fix — a previous Big 12 champion — at 133 pounds. On the other side, look out for lightning-fast takedowns by Stanford sophomore Jaden Abas at 149 pounds. Also watch for the strength and technique of redshirt junior Shane Griffith, a previous NCAA champion at 165 pounds. Both Abas and Griffith have previously earned All-American honors.
Yet despite welcoming back Abas and Griffith, the Cardinal’s roster faces other challenges: Stanford has no new freshman recruits due to the fact that the program was set to be discontinued following the 2020-21 season. Players had to make tough transitions from sports to focusing solely on academics, then back to competing, losing precious time that could have been used to prepare for the 2021-22 season.
Even without freshman recruits, however, the Cardinal roster still features fresh faces. It is head coach Rob Koll’s first season on the Farm after coming off a successful 32-year coaching career at Cornell University.
Saturday’s home opener is a ticketed event — the first in the program’s history. As with all of Stanford Athletics’ regular-season home events, students will get in free, but all other attendees will need to purchase a ticket.
“One of our goals for Stanford wrestling is to become the first wrestling program in the country to be a revenue-generating sport for their university”, Koll said.
Stanford also recently announced the named endowment of its three coaching positions. In addition, Koll expects to announce additional named endowments in the near future. These gifts will ensure a strong financial base for current and future years.
“When it comes to wrestling, we expect Stanford to be [an] obvious choice for the country’s most outstanding student/athletes,” Koll said. “This has occurred in virtually every other sport at the Farm, and there is no reason we can’t do the same thing in wrestling.”
Following the home opener, Stanford’s next dual will be Saturday, Nov. 20 against No. 12 Cornell University. Watch Koll’s new team face his old squad at 3:30 p.m. in Ithaca, N.Y.