By Jeremy Rubin
After an undefeated, abbreviated season of conference play, No. 19 wrestling (5-3, 4-0 Pac-12) finished third at the Pac-12 Championships in Corvallis, Ore. on Sunday.
The Cardinal competed in all 10 weight classes, with seven wrestlers finishing in the top three. Redshirt freshman Jaden Abas, who was competing in the 149-pound weight class, was the sole Stanford champion. His win guaranteed him an NCAA Tournament qualification.
Redshirt sophomore Real Woods made his season debut, placing second in the 141-pound class one year after winning the individual title. He was narrowly defeated by CSU Bakersfield’s Angelo Martinoni.
Four Cardinal wrestlers — sophomore Jackson DiSario (125 pounds), Woods, redshirt sophomore Shane Griffith (165 pounds) and redshirt senior Nathan Traxler (heavyweight) — finished runner up in the respective weight-class championships.
The loss in the 165-pound finals was the first of Griffth’s collegiate career. Prior to the championship he had a 34-0 record, the best start in program history. Griffith is currently ranked No. 2 on InterMat, one of three Cardinal ranked, along with redshirt senior Requir van der Merwe (No. 15, 157 pounds) and Abas at No. 18.
Van der Merwe and freshman Nick Stemmet (197 pounds) each finished third in Corvallis, while redshirt senior Jared Hill and freshman Jason Miranda both secured fifth place finishes in the 184-pound and 133-pound weight classes, respectively. Freshman Elijah Cleaver placed in sixth in the 174-pound class.
Besides Abas, DiSario, Griffith, Stemmet and Traxler all received Automatic Qualifiers to the NCAA Tournament due to their prolific performances. This year is the eighth straight that the Cardinal will send at least five wrestlers to the tournament. More Stanford athletes can still be invited on Mar. 10 through the at-large bid.
Collectively, the team’s 115.5 points placed Stanford just 7.5 behind Oregon State’s 123.0. The Cardinal defeated the Beavers on Feb. 7 in the team’s last regular season match, but were unable to surpass them on Sunday. Both teams were well behind first place Arizona State’s 138.0 points. Cal Poly, CSU Bakersfield and Little Rock finished fourth through sixth, respectively.
Arizona State’s Pac-12 title gives them four in the past five years, with Stanford’s win in 2019 being the lone Sun Devils defeat. That season, van der Merwe and Traxler each secured individual titles. The then-freshman duo of Griffth and Woods each claimed titles in 2020.
The NCAA Championships will take place Mar. 18-20 in St. Louis.