Wrestling hosts Stanford Saturday
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013 01:01
Entering Saturday’s home dual against Stanford and coming off of two impressive road wins against No. 25 Air Force and No. 15 Wyoming, No. 13 Oregon State is stressing one thing: teamwork.
Even though Oregon State (4-3, 1-1 Pac-12) won 14 of its 20 matches over the weekend, the Beavers aren’t satisfied. As the season inches closer to the Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, OSU expects constant improvement.
“I thought some guys wrestled well, some not as well as you’d like, but I think overall the effort was better and now we just need to get more of a team effort in every weight class,” said head coach Jim Zalesky. “It was good to win but also we saw some things that we need to work on.”
A complete team effort against Stanford (4-8, 0-1 Pac-12) is exactly what Oregon State is looking for.
Though the Beavers have had good individual efforts this season, they’ve yet to put together a complete team effort — something Oregon State will need to do if they want to repeat as Pac-12 champions and improve on last year’s 10th-place finish at the NCAA Tournament.
“Everyone’s starting to wrestle good all up and down the lineup,” said No. 4 Chad Hanke, heavyweight senior. “We haven’t really done that this year and that’s what we’re trying to do this weekend: every wrestler have a good performance.”
Oregon State’s chances at putting together a complete dual for the first time are promising considering the level of competition Stanford provides.
It’s no secret that No. 13 Oregon State and No. 18 Boise State are the top two teams in the conference, and no one else really comes close.
While Stanford has as many dual wins as Oregon State this season with four, the Cardinal also have eight losses against competition not quite up to par with what the Beavers have faced so far this year.
“I would say that we’re definitely the best [in the Pac-12], just because it’s my team,” Pena said. “But Boise State’s tough, and there’s also some pretty tough teams in the conference. If we wrestle well, I don’t think they’re going to be able to compete with us.”
Oregon State will also be lifted by the opportunity to return home to Gill Coliseum. Coming off of a brutal weekend on the road, wrestling in front of their home crowd is something the Beavers are looking forward to.
“We actually have a really good fan base and a lot of people come out to watch us wrestle,” Hanke said. “Wrestling’s not the most popular sport in a lot of other places, so it’s really cool to have the crowd come out and support us when sometimes we’re travelling and wrestling in front of three people in some places.”
While Stanford isn’t as quality an opponent as faced in recent weeks, Oregon State insists on treating the Cardinal like any other team.
OSU knows every match will matter once the NCAA Tournament rolls around. Preparing like their next match is at nationals is something the Beavers are working on now.
“Our coaches try to instill the philosophy of take every match like it’s an NCAA championship match,” said No. 10 RJ Pena, 157-pound junior. “They want us to warm-up the same, get ready the same before every match, so for every individual I take it like they’re the best wrestler in the nation.”
“You’ve got to take each match as it is,” Hanke added. “You’ve got to approach each match the same way because that’s how it’s going to be at nationals. You have to warm up the same, wrestle the same, and it doesn’t really matter who you’re wrestling against.”
Oregon State will try to keep its momentum rolling and improve its dual winning streak to three 7 p.m. Saturday, at Gill Coliseum.
Andrew Kilstrom, sports reporter