Beavers begin run of Pac-12 duals with CS Bakersfield
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 20:02
With only three Pac-12 duals left before the postseason, No. 9 Oregon State looks ready for the final push of the season.
The Beavers (7-3, 2-1 Pac-12) are coming off five straight dual victories including a thrilling come-from-behind win over No. 10 Cornell. The team is enjoying its best wrestling of the year and looks primed for Regional duals in less than three weeks time.
But before Oregon State can think about Regional and National duals, it must first focus on its remaining schedule.
With the remaining duals coming against Cal State Bakersfield (7-3, 1-1 Pac-12), Cal Poly (2-7, 0-3 Pac-12) and Arizona State (7-9, 2-1 Pac-12), there’s a strong likelihood that Oregon State will win out.
While Oregon State will be heavy favorites in its final three duals, the Beavers aren’t taking anything for granted. OSU hopes to use the next two weeks as a chance to get in top form for the Regional duals and then the Pac-12 Tournament after that.
“We want to keep improving, keep working on things we need to work on, try to put a lot of points on the scoreboard and put up a lot of bonus points,” said head coach Jim Zalesky. “Most importantly we want to wrestle seven minutes hard.”
“I think we’re trying to establish ourselves and wrestle like we did last weekend in New York,” added No. 4 Chad Hanke, senior heavyweight. “If we wrestle like that in these last three duals we can find ourselves and be competitive in the National duals.”
Hanke is the main reason Oregon State is riding a five dual winning streak. The Beavers were trailing Cornell by three points going into the final match and needed bonus points from Hanke to earn another victory.
The senior got a pin, securing Oregon State’s biggest moment so far this season.
“Everybody wants to be in that situation where it comes down to them and you have to win the big match in a big way,” Hanke said. “I’m glad I was able to do that for the team because we deserve that, we work hard.”
While Hanke probably won’t need a heroic pin to win Saturday, the dual is an important one because Oregon State and Cal State Bakersfield have the same overall and conference record, meaning the winner will jump to first place in the standings.
Though regular season record doesn’t determine the conference champion, it still has an impact on seeding going into the Pac-12 Tournament.
“We’re looking to go into these last three duals and set ourselves up for good seeds at Pac-12 Tournament,” Zalesky said. “Getting three wins would set us up well.”
“We just want to continue this momentum we’ve got going and wrestle like we’ve been wrestling and we should do well,” added No. 10 RJ Pena, 157-pound junior.
Oregon State will get the added benefit of wrestling its remaining duals in Gill Coliseum. Coming off a brutal road trip on the East Coast, wrestling on their home mat will be a boost for the Beavers.
The luxury gets even better the week following their last dual against Arizona State when Oregon State hosts the NCAA Regional Duals. Oregon State had to travel to Iowa last season, so wrestling at home could be enough to get them to the National Duals.
“It’s nice having ... the Regional Duals [here], so we can stay home and sleep in our own beds,” Hanke said. “We’ll have a definite advantage over people. Hopefully we can win.”
Saturday’s dual against the Roadrunners starts at 7 p.m. in Gill Coliseum.
Andrew Kilstrom, sports reporter
On Twitter @AndrewKilstrom