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Wrestling’s perfect season ruined by Roadrunners

No. 22 Stanford drops first dual meet of the season to CSU Bakersfield

Fifth-year Rico Stormer (above) pins down his opponent. Though the Cardinal crushed Cal Baptist, Stormer lost one of his first of the season against CSU Bakersfield. (JOHN LOZANO/

No. 22 Stanford men’s wrestling (6-1, 0-1 Pac-12) decimated Cal Baptist (1-3) last Friday but faltered on Sunday against CSU Bakersfield (5-7, 2-1 Pac-12), tarnishing the Cardinal’s otherwise spotless record. The 40-4 outcome in the match against the Lancers came as no surprise, but the follow-up game against the Roadrunners caught Stanford off-guard.

Friday’s event began and ended with Cardinal domination. The Lancers recently turned D1 and approached this dual having lost significantly to some of the best teams in the nation, including Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 Big-10). In total, Stanford took nine out of the 10 matches; three of the Cardinal victories were secured with pins and one was taken with a major decision. The single loss suffered by Stanford came at the hands of Cal Baptist’s 149-pound Zander Silva, who stopped the Cardinal from keeping a perfect record after taking down redshirt freshman Jack Ramalia in a major-decision outcome. Zander is one of two Cal Baptist wrestlers to have won a dual meet match through a major decision. At the end of the day, having crushed the Lancers 40-4 and remaining undefeated, the Cardinal geared up for the wrath of the Roadrunners.

Stanford had participated and reaped countless victories in CSU Bakersfield’s regional tournament, the Roadrunner Open, back in November. Thirteen out of 18 Cardinal wrestlers claimed a title at the tournament, and sophomore Dominick Mandarino (157 pounds) and freshman Shane Griffith (165 pounds) both took 1st-place trophies after wrestling with perfect records. Stanford’s premium performance at Bakersfield did anything but suggest that the Roadrunners would rebound for retribution later in the season. Out of ten matches, the Cardinal only lost two to the Roadrunners at the open; 165-pound redshirt sophomore Brandon Dallavia lost his skirmish against Jacob Thalin and 184-pound freshman Colbey Harlan fell to Dom Ducharme.

It was precisely Thalin and Ducharme who spelled trouble for the Cardinal on Sunday afternoon. The Cardinal’s Mandarino – once the reigning champ in Bakersfield territory – lost 5-4 against Thalin. Harlan and Ducharme also took to the mat for a rematch, but Harlan came up short once again. In total, the Cardinal were defeated in six out of 10 matches on Sunday.

Among the upsets, one of the most surprising was the loss that 174-pound fifth-year Rico Stormer suffered against Bryan Battisto. Stormer had won 15 out of 22 matches this season, compared to Battisto’s six out of 15, and the fifth-year has had one of his best seasons yet.

But the dual against Bakersfield cannot simply be reduced to a matter of glum defeat. Junior Gabriel Townsell, wrestling in the 125-pound weight class, took down Edward Flores 7-4 in the final match of the day – the Stanford junior is now 14-6 overall this season. No 15. redshirt sophomore Requir van der Merwe once again delivered on his nickname, the “South African Tornado,” after overcoming Russel Rohlfing. Meanwhile, redshirt senior Paul Fox, currently leading the roster in all-time wins, secured yet another victory and the only major-decision win over Wyatt Gerl in the 157-pound weight class. Last but not least, team captain and No. 9 redshirt sophomore Nathan Traxler, wrestling at 197 pounds, took down Mark Penyacsek with an 8-2 decision. Despite the overall loss, Traxler is having one of the most spectacular seasons of his career, currently leading the team in wins, coming in second in terms of pins, and recently claiming a record-setting title at the Southern Scuffle tournament in early January. The Roadrunners may have momentarily reduced the Cardinal to a pack of Wile E. Coyotes, but Stanford need only treat this loss for what it is – a minor setback.

The Cardinal are back on the mat on Saturday, Feb. 2, for a home dual meet against Arizona State (4-8, 1-0 Pac-12).


Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’

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