Although the No. 23 Stanford wrestling team (17-5) finished its dual season with a close 20-19 loss to Northwestern, it set a new record for most single-season dual wins in program history. After having done so, it will look to continue to chase history this Sunday when it seeks the first conference title in program history as it hosts the Pac-12 Championship at Maples Pavilion this Sunday.
“This is our qualifier, so individuals will qualify through this to get to the national tournament,” said head coach Jason Borrelli to Stanford Athletics. “We want to have some great individual performances, but we’re not overlooking the team concept…We’ve never won a conference championship here at Stanford in wrestling, and we’ve positioned ourselves very nicely to have a chance to do that, so we’re excited for it.”
The Cardinal has been led this year by two-time All-American and co-captain Ryan Mango, who is the 11th-ranked wrestler in the country in his weight class and has contributed a 25-3 record this season, having started at 133 pounds in all but one of Stanford’s duals this season. The fifth-year senior will ride into the championship on a nine-match winning streak and will look to qualify for the NCAA Championship for the fourth time in his career. Sunday will mark the final time that Mango will compete in front of the home crowd at Stanford as a long and illustrious collegiate career draws to a close.
“It’s nice to have ourselves positioned to win a conference championship and for him to be in position to win an individual national title in his senior year,” Borrelli said. “He’s a dynamic kid, he’s exciting, he scores a lot of points and he’s just been really special for our program and so hopefully everybody will come out and watch him in his last home competition.”
Junior Evan Silver, who is ranked 12th in the 125-pound class and led the team with 26 wins last season, followed up his fantastic sophomore season with a 20-4 record in his junior year and will be looking to qualify for his second consecutive NCAA Championship. Last season, he finished second in the Pac-12 Championship in Tempe, Ariz. and will look to have an edge on Sunday because of that experience.
In addition, 19th-ranked senior Dan Scherer will start at 197 pounds after having finished the dual season with an 18-4 record. Scherer, 174-pound Kyle Meyer, 149-pound Donovan Halpin and Mango, as seniors, will look to provide veteran leadership to a relatively young Cardinal starting lineup that features five freshmen who redshirted last season and will be competing on this stage for the first time in their careers. The young group is led by sophomore 165-pound Jim Wilson, who has shined en route to a 30-6 record this season after a team-high 15-match win streak to start the season.
Although Stanford looks to make a strong showing on Sunday due to its depth and leadership, No. 17 Oregon State, the only other ranked team in the field, will also figure to challenge the Cardinal, particularly in the middle weight classes, while Boise State will look to provide stiff competition in the heavyweight classes.
The first session begins at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, the second session begins at 3:30 p.m. and the championship finals begin at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.