Intra-squad meet gives wrestling team tune-up before real action
Intra-squad meet serves as warm-up before No. 10 Beavers begin the regular season Sunday
Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012 03:11
Fans got to see the No. 10-ranked Oregon State wrestling team in action for the first time this year in an intra-squad meet at Gill Coliseum last night.
The match served as an evaluation test for coaches to look at wrestlers and something of a dress rehearsal to get ready for the first real competition of the season.
Though the team only got to wrestle against teammates, it was the first match-like atmosphere in front of a good turnout, and the wrestlers were excited to get back into the swing of things.
“It feels great,” said No. 9-ranked 157-pound junior RJ Pena. “Ever since I’ve been wrestling we’ve never had intra-squad. So it was good to get out here and kind of get a warm-up match, get the juices flowing and get prepared a little bit for the season to wrestle like an actual dual.”
“It was definitely good to dust off the cobwebs a little bit,” added No. 5-ranked 149-pound junior Scott Sakaguchi. “We have to get after it a little more, but definitely good to be back.”
The meet featured matches in every weight class besides heavyweight — senior Chad Hanke was the only healthy competitor at HWT — and included a few surprising victories.
No. 16-ranked 125-pound sophomore Pat Rollins fell to freshman Joey Palmer 10-5, and No. 2-ranked 141-pound senior Mike Mangrum lost to sophomore James Roberts 7-5.
At this point, there is still competition for starting positions, and while the meet is in no way a determinant of what the lineup will look like come the regular season, the young guys like Palmer and Roberts were impressive.
“The guy that comes out and sets the pace is usually going to win the match,” said head coach Jim Zalesky. “Today there were some guys kind of trying to feel things out and some guys came out ready to wrestle. You saw that in a couple of weight classes where some guys were just more ready to wrestle than the other guy.”
While some returning starters struggled Wednesday night, a few picked up right where they left off from last year.
Sakaguchi took care of business winning 11-2, and Pena impressed, winning a 17-2 technical fall over 157-pound redshirt freshman Tony Chay. No 11-ranked 197-pound sophomore Taylor Meeks won by the same margin for a technical fall in the final match of the night.
Despite the overall performance, the team knows there are improvements to be made before the first regular season tournament Sunday.
“We’ve got a lot to work on,” Sakaguchi said. “I feel like we have a lot more in us, definitely not everything we have individually for myself or the team. But it’s still early and we’ll be alright.”
Last year Oregon State finished the year ranked No. 10, and carry the same ranking into the regular season this year.
Though the club lost arguably the face of the program in heavyweight Clayton Jack, the team expects the intra-squad match to be a jumping-off point for an even better season this year.
“We set high goals for ourselves,” Pena said. “We’ve had a really good month of training and the coaches have been pushing us hard. We set really high goals for ourselves and I think a lot of people on the team feel great. We’re ready to make a run at a national title.”
Andrew Kilstrom, sports reporter