Despite suffering through last weekend’s tough road trip that included losses to Brown, No. 21 Maryland, Harvard and American, Stanford’s wrestling team is excited to be back at home to host No. 25 Air Force tonight and visit No. 9 Oregon State tomorrow night for a Pac-12 dual.
“The team did have a rough weekend,” redshirt junior Bret Baumbach said, “but all we can do is bounce back and look forward to tonight. After that we can think about Oregon State, but our focus right now is going to battle against Air Force.”
The Falcons enter tonight’s match on a bit of a hot streak, having won three straight dual meets. Two of Air Force’s wrestlers are also ranked in the top 10 in the country: senior 149-pounder Cole VonOhlen (21-2) is No. 4 in his weight class, and freshman Josh Martinez (18-6) is No. 10 at 125 pounds.
With VonOhlen and junior Josh Kreimier, the Falcons have two veterans with NCAA Championships experience, which could be critical against a relatively inexperienced Stanford squad.
And that Cardinal team has been struggling a bit of late, posting a 4-10 overall record through the first 14 matches. Youth has certainly been an issue, as coach Jason Borrelli’s probable lineup features no seniors and likely just three juniors.
Nevertheless, Baumbach (165 pounds), junior heavyweight Dan Scherer and redshirt freshman Evan Silver (125) pounds had good outings last weekend. Baumbach went undefeated, including recording a fall while wrestling up a weight class at 174 pounds.
Silver and Scherer also had three wins apiece, with Silver upsetting No. 17 Shane Gentry of Maryland.
“It’s great to see individuals flourish at certain spots,” Baumbach said. “It’s great to see Evan pick up a huge win and see him and Dan both go 3-0 on the first day. But after that day ends, you kind of have to forget about it and move on. What we take from it is that we do see that there’s improvement, which is what coach says is how you can evaluate where you are, by how much you’re improving.”
Things won’t get any easier on Saturday against Oregon State in the Card’s second Pac-12 dual of the year. The Beavers (4-3, 1-1 Pac-12) are the highest-ranked Pac-12 squad in the latest polls and boast five wrestlers ranked in the top 10 of their individual weight classes. Seniors Chad Hanke (heavyweight) and Mike Mangrum (141 pounds) lead the way at No. 4. Junior 149-pounder Scott Sakaguchi and sophomore 197-pounder Taylor Meeks both come in at No. 8, while junior RJ Pena (157 pounds) is No. 10.
In addition, the schedulemakers at the Pac-12 did the Cardinal no favors in pushing the dual against Oregon State from its originally scheduled slot on Sunday up to Saturday night. Stanford will fly out early Saturday morning and head from the airport straight to the arena for a prematch workout designed to help the team make its second consecutive weigh-in in less than 24 hours.
“That’s not something that’s easy,” Baumbach said of the schedule. “It’s very stressful and plays a big part kind of in the background. It doesn’t make or break anything, but it is an obstacle to get around. There’s not a lot of down time in a stressful 24-hour period, and it’s something we don’t see very often.”
Stanford takes on the Falcons from Burnham Pavilion tonight at 6 p.m., with Saturday’s match against Oregon State set to start at 7 p.m. from Corvallis, Ore.