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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Oregon State Changing the Culture under Chris Pendleton

    Oregon State head coach Chris Pendleton and Nate Engel (right) (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    Although Arizona State had another great season and Cal Poly continues to improve, Chris Pendleton has slowly put Oregon State back on the map. In the last decade, Oregon State had been stuck in the middle of the Pac-12 conference.

    However, Pendleton looks to shake up the momentum in the West. While at ASU, Pendleton had nearly unlimited resources. However, he has learned he needs to build up to that with growing pains in Corvallis.

    “When you have number one recruits, All-American transfers and endless resources, it’s a fun thing to be a part of,” Pendleton said. “We knew we had to do things differently when we started to build our staff and team at Oregon State. Our number one thing was culture and doing things the right way.”

    Pendleton’s culture is built around clear communication. He believes this strategy will help with accountability, building characteristics and traits, and working on self-improvement.

    Since the Beaver wrestlers have bought into the new culture, positive results have followed. Oregon State won the Pac-12 Championships for the first time since 2016 and had multiple high-seed wrestlers at the NCAA tournament.

    The high rankings came from a successful finals at the Pac-12s. Oregon State won five of its six finals matches despite being underdogs in a handful of them.

    “The biggest thing I take away from the Pac-12s is we had a lot of hard matches,” Pendleton said. “The kids bit down on their lip and did what they have trained to do and it showed up in those late matches.”

    Brandon Kaylor defeated Pac-12 Wrestler of the Year and former NCAA finalist Brandon Courtney and Matthew Olguin defeated former NCAA Champion Shane Griffith.

    Even though the Beavers exceeded expectations at the Pac-12 tournament, they fell apart at NCAAs.

    “It is the growing pains of the program,” Pendleton said. “When you have success, it takes time to learn how to deal with the success. We won the Pac-12 Championship and never zoned back in and refocused.”

    However, Trey Munoz shined at the NCAA tournament, becoming an All-American at 184 pounds.

    “Trey and I started when he was in diapers,” Pendleton said. “I actually work less with Trey now because he has become his own individual and takes a lot of ownership. My job is just a mentor role and fine-tuning it.”

    Besides Munoz, Pendleton is looking to reload his lineup next season to compete against a tougher Pac-12 competition.

    “We are returning a lot of firepower and have a lot more firepower in the wings waiting to get their chances,” Pendleton said. “We just focus on coming back and the new cycle begins. We got the guys here and the guys arriving and starting the plan.”

    Since leaving Arizona State a couple of seasons ago, Pendleton looks back at how the Sun Devils have helped him grow Oregon State.

    “One of the best things I took from ASU was building a program,” Pendleton said. “We were 56th in the country when Zeke and I arrived. It was a long rebuild and a lot of growing pains in that program. It taught me what I value, what I want to stress to the team and taught me the path of what I want to take.”

    Pendleton hopes he can flip Oregon State into the next dark horse coming from the West.

    “We are getting used to being the underdog to an extent,” Pendleton said. “Honestly, that is where some of us do our best work with a chip on our shoulder.”

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