No. 21 Stanford wrestling (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) took a day trip to CSU Bakersfield (3-3, 0-0 Pac-12) this past Sunday for the Roadrunner Open, where 13 out of 18 Cardinal wrestlers placed. Sophomore Dominick Mandarino and freshman Shane Griffith also took the top spots in the 157-pound and 165-pound weight classes, respectively. For comparison, only six Cardinal placed and no Cardinal won a 1st-place title at last year’s tournament.
Before this season’s Open, Stanford was coming off of a nearly perfect performance in their dual meet against SF State, winning nine out of 10 matches. Six of the Cardinal victories were secured by either major decision or takedown. We saw a calm, cool and collected Cardinal methodically eliminate opponents, and this method was no better seen than in the four-in-a-row pins accomplished by Harvard-transfer Rico Stormer (174 pounds), redshirt junior Austin Flores (184 pounds), redshirt sophomore Nathan Traxler (197 pounds) and the legendary freshman heavyweight, Haydn Maley. Needless to say, Stanford has built a pantheon of wrestlers that could not have been in better shape to take on the flurry of teams at the Roadrunner Open.
Sunday was simply a whirlwind of wrestling excitement. Dominick Mandarino dominated the competition with two major decisions (16-5 and 13-1) and a final 8-5 finish over teammate and redshirt senior Paul Fox, who placed 2nd over the weekend. Mandarino’s and Fox’s triumphs in the 157-pound class were coupled with a glorious set of matches for Shane Griffith at 165 pounds; Griffith pinned Carter Brozovich from Menlo College (1-0), took Jacob Thalin from Bakersfield to town with a 16-3 victory, beat teammate and redshirt sophomore Brandon Dallavia with a 6-2 win and then finished his streak off with an 8-1 domination over No. 17 Andrew Fogarty from North Dakota State (3-0, 1-0 Big 12). This finish marks the second 1st-place title for Griffith this season; his first title was secured at the Princeton Open.
We also saw solid performances from freshman Tyler Eischens, who placed 4th in the 157-pound class with a 5-1 record. Eischen only lost against teammate Paul Fox and three of the freshman’s five victories were seized with takedowns in the second minute. Redshirt sophomore Jared Hill, like Eischens, stood undefeated against competitors in the 157-pound class but lost to Fox. Matching his performance from last year’s Open, redshirt sophomore Brandon Dallavia placed 4th in the 165-pound class after a major decision victory over Bryce Buckley from Cal Baptist (1-1, 0-0 WAC). In the 174-pound class, Rico Stormer secured a 2nd-place title with a series of falls and major decisions, only losing to unattached wrestler Mohommad Talabi in the final match. Freshman Foster Karmon claimed 4th place with a 4-2 record.
Both of Stanford’s wrestlers in the 184-pound weight class placed; freshman Colbey Harlan claimed 4th with a 3-1 record and Austin Flores claimed 5th at 2-1. In the dual meet against SF State, it was Flores who rocked the competition with a takedown in the first 40 seconds of his match against the Gators’s Justin Pichedwatana.
As for the heavyweights, the indomitable force that once was Haydn Maley has now been checked. He won the Princeton Open, obliterated SF State with a hard-fought pin and started off the Roadrunner Open with another pin over Antonio Gomez from SF State, but his undefeated streak eventually came to a close. Daniel Stibral of North Dakota pinned Maley in the eighth minute of their match. Persistent and powerful, Maley rebounded with a takedown against Jeremiah Gerl and two victories over CSU Bakersfield’s Dominic Balmer and Stanford’s redshirt junior David Showunmi, until this run was stymied by another loss to Zachary Schrader of Cal Baptist. All in all, Maley secured a 4-2 record and a 4th-place title. Showunmi followed Maley in the weight class in 5th place with a 2-1 record, winning against Schrader and Seville Hayes from Cal Poly (0-1).
If the Roadrunner Open is any metric, Stanford greatly improved from last year by having more than two-thirds of all Cardinal wrestlers end the day with titles. However, the Open was not just a victory for this season’s squad; we also got to see a little bit of the future. Hailing from San Diego, high school senior and Stanford commit Jaden Abas competed in the 149-pound division and snatched a 3rd-place title along the way. The California state champion, who has had a career record of 124-9 and is ranked No. 1 in the nation by InterMat, verbally committed to the Cardinal back in April.
Next, Stanford is preparing for a dual meet against Fresno State (3-3, 1-2 Big 12), happening tomorrow in San Diego. Like Stanford, Fresno State also placed two-thirds of their wrestlers at the Roadrunner Open, and last Friday, they nearly won their home opener against No. 20 North Dakota State (3-0, 1-0 Big 12). The Bulldogs have both the bite and the bark needed to give the Cardinal a run for their money. Catch the dual meet tomorrow at 8 p.m. PST.
Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’ stanford.edu