Three Stanford wrestlers won individual Pac-12 titles and five qualified for the NCAA Championships next month in New York City as Cardinal wrestling saw another campaign for its first ever Pac-12 title fall short, with Stanford finishing fourth out of six teams at the Pac-12 Championships on Saturday in Tempe, Arizona.
Oregon State won its fifth straight conference title with 118.0 points, with host Arizona State coming in second and Cal State Bakersfield rounding out the podium with a team score of 101.0.
Redshirt junior Jim Wilson (165), redshirt sophomore Connor Schram (125) and freshman Joey McKenna (141) all won individual titles for the Cardinal, while redshirt sophomores Keaton Subjeck (174) and Nathan Butler (285) didn’t win their brackets but still clinched berths in the NCAA Championships.
Leading the way for Stanford, Wilson won his third consecutive title at 165, fighting through an injury and holding on tight to prevent one last escape for a dramatic overtime 2-1 victory over Adam Fierro of Cal State Bakersfield. Following the final buzzer, Wilson immediately sprinted to the sideline and leaped into the waiting arms of coaches Jason Borrelli and Ray Blake.
Wilson, who had claimed an 8-2 decision over Jacen Petersen of ASU in the first round and a 9-3 decision over Boise State’s Taylor West in the semifinals, is Stanford’s only returning All-American from last season, when he finished eighth at the NCAA Championships. He became the first wrestler in Stanford’s decorated history to ever win three conference titles.
Schram, wrestling at 125 this year after finishing as the Pac-12 runner-up at 133 last season, won his first conference title, becoming the 20th different Stanford wrestler in program history to win an individual championship.
Schram claimed the championship with a 2-2 decision over No. 7 Ronnie Bresser of Oregon State in the final that he won after double-overtime on riding time criteria. The win marked Schram’s second consecutive upset of Bresser this season after he also stunned Bresser with a last-second takedown in Stanford’s dual against Oregon State earlier this season.
And of course, it was no real surprise that McKenna, ranked No. 2 in the country at 141, cruised to the first conference championship of what is sure to be a storied collegiate career, becoming just the fifth freshman in program history to win a conference crown and improving his record to a sparkling 22-2 on the year. (Both of McKenna’s losses have been to Dean Heil, the No. 1 wrestler in the country.)
The outcome of McKenna’s night was seemingly never in doubt, as he asserted his No. 2 ranking with a pin of Josh Newberg of Boise State in 6:36 in the first round before claiming a 6-0 decision over Oregon State’s Jack Hathaway in the semifinals and breezing by Ian Nickell of Cal State Bakersfield in the finals in a 6-1 decision.
McKenna will next eye a deep NCAA Championships run and will aim to become Stanford’s first All-American in his weight class since Tod Surmon took fourth place at 142 pounds at the 1996 Championships.
Although Subjeck lost in the first round to eventual champion and fifth-ranked Bryce Hammond of Cal State Bakersfield in the first round, he bounced back with a 7-3 decision over Tyler Chay of Oregon State before using a last-second takedown to win in a 5-3 decision over Cal Poly’s Travis Berridge in the third-place match.
Riding that momentum, Subjeck proceeded to pin Austin Dewey of Boise State in just 2:23 in the true second-place bout to secure his own spot at the NCAA Championships.
Meanwhile, Butler won a pair of tough decisions over Bakersfield’s Matt Williams and No. 12 Tanner Hall of Arizona State before again running into Oregon State’s Amarveer Dhesi, who had defeated Butler in an 8-6 decision when the Cardinal and Beavers faced off in a dual earlier this season.
Although Dhesi won in a 19-5 major decision in the final of the heavyweight bracket, Butler’s spot in New York City had already been secure at that point, with three heavyweight spots from the Pac-12 having been allocated for the NCAAs. Butler will be making his second NCAA appearance after having posted a 1-2 record at last year’s event.
Redshirt sophomore Garet Krohn also claimed third place at 184 after he followed up a second-round loss to Corey Griego of Oregon State with back-to-back major decisions (12-0, 14-0), emphatically winning the third-place match over Jesus Ambriz of Cal State Bakersfield.
Sophomore Mason Pengilly and redshirt junior Zach Nevills both took fifth place at 133 and 197, respectively, while redshirt sophomore Tommy Pawelski and redshirt junior Peter Russo finished sixth at 149 and 157.
The five Cardinal wrestlers that qualified for the NCAA Championships will have a chance to finish their conditioning strong before traveling to New York for the NCAAs from March 17-19 to close out their season.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’ stanford.edu.