No. 25 Stanford wrestling is gearing up for an all-day tournament at CSU Bakersfield on Sunday. The tournament will bring in wrestlers from all divisions, and though the Cardinal have had some trouble at this event in the past, their recent performance over SF State shows that this year’s squad is not messing around.
Stanford (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) crushed the Gators 41-5 this past Saturday, but the Cardinal did not have a clean start. No. 19 junior Gabriel Townsell took a tenuous 6-3 victory in the 125-pound class, and sophomore Anthony Le claimed his first win of the season in the 133-pound class, but redshirt freshman Jack Ramalia came up short against SF State’s Jordan Gurrola for the 141-pound set. Both teams seemed relatively even at this point, but then redshirt sophomore Requir van der Merwe, the “South African Tornado,” claimed the first major-decision victory for the Cardinal after keeping opponent Isiah Alva down for a majority of the match. Following this major win in the 149-pound class and another win from 157-pound redshirt sophomore Jared Hill, we saw an astonishing series of takedowns from graduate student Rico Stormer (174 pounds), redshirt junior Austin Flores (184 pounds), redshirt sophomore Nathan Traxler (197 pounds) and the undefeated freshman heavyweight, Haydn Maley. Conditions may have been smoky, but the Cardinal played their hearts out during Fan Fest, securing nine out of 10 matches against SF State; six of those nine victories were won by either major decisions or pins.
Last year, Stanford did not fare too well at the Roadrunner Open, dropping to sixth place overall among the schools that were represented. Wisconsin (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) took the team crown, followed by CSU and Illinois. That being said, there were some individual achievements at last year’s open: Traxler took second place, Ramalia placed third in the 149-pound class and redshirt sophomore Brandon Dallavia came up to fourth place in the 165-pound class. However sweet these individual triumphs felt last year, this year’s squad is seeking something a little sweeter.
Although CSU Bakersfield (3-3, 0-0) is tainted with a mixed record this season, they are packing a lot of power with goliaths like Russell Rohlfing and Sean Nickell. Rohlfing was recently catapulted into the top-20 in the nation for the 149-pound class after vanquishing No. 6-ranked Pat Lugo of the University of Iowa (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten). Nickell, already well-established as a top-20 competitor in the 133-pound class, finished third at the Pac-12 Championships last year to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Rohlfing and Nickell will undoubtedly give Stanford’s Merwe, the “South African Tornado,” and Anthony Le a run for their money. The Roadrunners also tout Eddie Flores (125 pounds) and Noah Blakley-Beanes (141 pounds), who both stand undefeated this season. The Cardinal definitely have an advantage in the higher weight classes with virtuous veterans like Stormer and Flores, and Stanford’s heavyweight class is indisputably on top, considering the matchless might of Maley.
The Roadrunner Open is running all day this upcoming Sunday, Nov. 18, at CSU Bakersfield.
Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’ stanford.edu.