The Stanford men’s wrestling team left Sunday’s Pac-12 Championships in Boise with two champions: redshirt senior No. 1 Nick Amuchastegui at 174 pounds and junior No. 5 Ryan Mango at 125 pounds. The Cardinal also had one other wrestler earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in March, as redshirt junior Spence Patrick placed second at 184 pounds and secured a spot in the national tournament.
In addition to the two first-place performances, the Cardinal had three wrestlers finish second and two wrestlers finish third. The team placed third, behind Boise State and Oregon State, which won the Pac-12 regular season title and the Pac-12 tournament, respectively.
Mango looked very impressive on Sunday. In his first match of the day, the junior wrestled Dalton Miller of Arizona State and pinned him in the third period. In the championship match, Mango dominated Oregon State’s Pat Rollins, winning by a 14-3 major decision. He now has a team-leading 25 wins and looks to be in good shape heading into NCAAs. He finished sixth in the nation last year and is searching for a better finish this March.
Amuchastegui also went 2-0 on Sunday, winning two close matches. In his first contest, he defeated Boise State’s Scotty Bacon 10-5. In the championship, he edged out Cal Poly’s Ryan DesRoches 5-4. The top-ranked wrestler hasn’t had too many close matches this year—most of his wins have been by pin, technical fall or major decision. In fact, the last time Amuchastegui and DesRoches wrestled, Amuchastegui dominated the match and won by major decision. But these close wins are good preparation for what Amuchastegui will be facing in a few weeks. He finished second in the NCAA tournament last year, and if he hopes to take home the title in his final season, he will have to win a few nail-biters.
Patrick’s first match of the day was against Kevin Radford of Arizona State. In the Cardinal’s final dual of the season, Radford defeated Patrick 5-3, so he came into the tournament with the higher seed. Patrick needed to win the match in order to receive an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. He won the match 3-2 but went on to lose in the finals to Boise State’s Jacob Swartz by a score of 5-1.
Despite the loss, it was still an extremely successful day for Patrick. Time and time again he has come up with key wins and on Sunday he proved how valuable he is to the squad, despite often performing under the radar.
Other wrestlers with a chance at making the NCAA tournament are redshirt junior Timmy Boone at 149 pounds, sophomore Garrett Schaner at 157 pounds, redshirt sophomore Bret Baumbach at 165 pounds, sophomore Alan Yen at 197 pounds and sophomore Dan Scherer at heavyweight. Boone and Baumbach both took second place, Schaner and Scherer took third and Yen placed fourth. Each of them just missed an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. However, each can still get an at-large bid. Forty at-large qualifiers will be chosen by the NCAA Division I wrestling committee on March 7.
The NCAA tournament will take place in St. Louis, Mo., from March 15-17.