DES MOINES, Iowa -- Even though Oregon State did not have any wrestlers competing in championship matches Saturday night inside Wells Fargo Arena, there was still cause for celebration as the Beavers held onto eighth place at the 2013 NCAA Championships, their best finish since 1996.
At the end of competition, OSU had tallied 48.5 total points, which put them three full points ahead of Illinois and five in front of Virginia Tech, who finished ninth and 10th respectively. As a team OSU went a fitting 20-13 during the three day competition in 2013 and placed three wrestlers within the top five.
It is also of note that for the second straight season, head coach Jim Zalesky's squad produced three All-Americans and had one wrestler finish as high as fourth. Unlike last season, when one of the All-American trio was a senior (HWT, Clayton Jack), this time around, all of Zalesky's All-Americans will return to the program for at least one more season.
Scott Sakaguchi (Jr., 149 lbs.), RJ Pena (Jr., 157 lbs.) and Taylor Meeks (So., 197 lbs.), were the ones marching in the parade of All-Americans this year before the tournament's championship session. The trio is no stranger from sharing the lime light as each are roommates while in Corvallis. Sakaguchi is the lone two-time All-American out of the group, while Meeks is the first underclassmen Orange and Black grappler to finish in the top five since 1992, when sophomore Babak Mohammadi did the same. Pena was the only one out of the three that wrestled eighth matches, losing only one following his first round defeat.
Looking back at the tournament, Oregon State's most productive day was Friday (Day No. 2), as the team reeled off 25 points and crowned three All-Americans. OSU set the tone for a successful tournament on Day No. 1 (Thursday) with 16 team points and finished strong on Saturday (Day No. 3), with a clutch 7.5 points to solidify their eighth place finish.
The last time an Oregon State team finished as high as eighth at the NCAA Wrestling Championships was 1998, when former head coach Joe Wells led his team to back-to-back-to-back top 10 finishes. Zalesky already has had back-to-back top 10 NCAA Championship performances from his teams the last two seasons and will look to add his third in-a-row in 2014 at the NCAA's in Oklahoma City.