Seniors to be honored at tonight's meet
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 01:02
In every sport, Senior Day is a moment to acknowledge the career accomplishments of the seniors who will be moving on from Oregon State.
While the accomplishments and legacies seniors leave behind are generally substantial, the impact this year’s senior class has made for the No. 9 Oregon State wrestling team has been nothing short of exceptional.
This year’s class of seniors was arguably the biggest factor in Oregon State’s transformation into the national contender it is today. The class is also only the second group that head coach Jim Zalesky and his staff recruited.
“They’ve helped build the program to where it’s at right now,” Zalesky said. “Coming in, the program wasn’t where it’s at and a lot of guys could have gone other places, but they believed in this program, came here and helped build a foundation.”
Seniors Mike Mangrum, Chad Hanke, Ty Vinson, Cody Weishoff and junior college transfer Anthony Harris will all be honored Friday at 7 p.m. in Gill Coliseum against Pac-12 opponent Cal Poly.
Senior Day is normally reserved for the last home game of the season, but the Beavers take on Arizona State Saturday and then host the NCAA Regional Duals Feb. 17.
The day is still going to be memorable.
“It’s a pretty special moment,” Hanke said. “Everybody keeps telling me [it’s almost over], but I haven’t quite come to grips with it yet.”
The feeling of near disbelief at how fast the past four years have gone was a common theme.
“It’s flown by quick, it’s kind of surreal,” added Vinson.
Hanke (the No. 4-ranked heavyweight in the nation) and Mangrum (No. 4 ranked 141-pounder) have been made especially large impacts in their time at Oregon State.
Mangrum enters the weekend seventh all-time in Oregon State history with 126 wins. Hanke enters the weekend 17th all-time with 107. Having both been key contributors for four years, Mangrum and Hanke have been at the forefront of Oregon State wrestling for a long time.
“Those two are probably the pillars of the class,” Zalesky said.
Vinson, Weishoff and Harris have also contributed during their careers. Especially Vinson — ranked No. 19 in the nation in the 184-pound weight class — who is a team captain this year.
Last Saturday was Vinson’s first match returning from a hamstring injury that kept him out for over a month. He’s finally back to 100 percent just in time for Senior Day.
“It’s really big to get back,” Vinson said. “I need the matches, definitely, and they should be good ones hopefully. I’m looking forward to competing, enjoying the moment.”
While Senior Day will be an opportunity to honor the five wrestlers for their careers, getting Oregon State’s seventh and eighth straight wins are all anyone’s thinking about.
“It’s something you see all of the classes in front of you go through, but it‘s just kind of a small moment for a big day,” Vinson said. “The big part is winning the wrestling match and that’s what we’re all focused on.”
Avoiding the distraction that Senior Day can cause is something most teams worry about. For Oregon State, however, wrestling with its usual energy isn’t even in question.
“I’m looking for guys to score right away and keep working on things we’ve been working on,” Zalesky said. “Even if it’s maybe an opponent that isn’t ranked as high as you. You can’t take it for granted this time of year.”
Reminiscing about the memories this year’s senior class created will be special, but finishing the year on top is all the group cares about.
With Cal Poly on the schedule Friday, Arizona State on Saturday, NCAA Regionals the following week and the Pac-12 Championships shortly after, there’s a lot of work left to be done.
“We’ve got a lot more wrestling after this,” Vinson said. “It’s not like it’s our last hoorah. We’re keeping our blinders on and we’re focused.”
Andrew Kilstrom, sports reporter