By Arman Kassam
No. 25 Stanford men’s wrestling (9-4, 2-1 Pac-12) finished the dual meet season with a 31-9 loss to No. 7 Nebraska (12-5, 5-4 Big-10) at the Bob Devaney Center in Lincoln. The Cardinal were able to secure three wins against the Huskers, which boasted seven ranked wrestlers in ten total matches.
No. 12 Nathan Traxler (197 pounds) was the first to contribute a win for the Cardinal with a 7-6 decision over No. 13 Eric Schultz, which was secured only after gaining a 0:05 riding-time advantage by the third tiebreaker. In the second and third periods, the Cardinal team captain overcame a 4-1 deficit to tie the bout 4-4. By the third extra period, both wrestlers garnered escape points, but Traxler was able to hold on just a little longer to claim the victory.
Traxler currently leads the team in season wins at 26 and is tied with redshirt freshman and heavyweight Haydn Maley for season pins at five. Traxler has also defeated six ranked opponents this season, having only lost one dual match.
The second Cardinal victory came at the hands of Maley, whose 7-4 decision solidified the redshirt freshman’s 6-3 dual record and 21-9 overall record. Maley, who has won three tournament titles in his debut season, catapulted himself into a 5-1 lead at the beginning of the third period with a takedown and an escape. The heavyweight then sealed the deal with another escape point and 1:06 of riding time against opponent Christian Lance’s single escape point and takedown.
Last but not least, redshirt senior Mason Pengilly kept the hope of a Stanford victory alive with his 5-2 win in the 133-pound class over Jevon Parrish. The redshirt senior, doubling as a team captain with Traxler, notched an early takedown and extra riding time to take the win. Pengilly has now improved to 11-4 overall this season and 8-1 in duals.
A valiant effort was made by 157-pound sophomore Dominick Mandarino, who lost 2-1 to No. 2 Tyler Berger after tying up the match 1-1 by the third period.
“There’s no fear of failure when the match gets late,” Berger said. “I just remained calm and kept my attacks up. Even though I couldn’t land a takedown today, I still found a way to win.”
But the tenuous win for the Husker demonstrated a different kind of victory for Mandarino, who was able to hold out against one of the top wrestlers in the nation — losing only by the difference of a single escape point. Mandarino may have not defeated a ranked opponent this season, but he came close at this match against Berger and earlier in the month against Arizona State’s (6-10, 3-1 Pac-12) No. 17 Christian Pagdilao. The sophomore has improved from a 10-6 record last season to a 21-9 overall record this season with 6-3 in duals.
Next up, the Pac-12 Championships will take place in Tempe, Arizona, on March 9 at 6 p.m.
Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’ stanford.edu.