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Pac-12 Conference Recap (11/17/21)

2021 NCAA champion Shane Griffith (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors)

This Past Week

A weekend filled with match-ups pitting Pac-12 teams and wrestlers against ranked opponents started off with the Little Rock Trojans taking the mat against a solid, #18 Wisconsin squad on Friday, November 12th. The Wisconsin contingent fielded a nine-wrestler line-up, forfeiting at 125, including five of their seven ranked wrestlers against the ever-improving Trojans. The bright spots for Little Rock included two heartbreakers and two match victories.

At 133lbs, Jaylen Carson picked up a narrow 5-4 victory over Wisconsin's Ethan Rotundo on the strength of an enduring, gutsy effort. After a first-period reversal and early second-period escape, Carson had kept the match locked at 3-3 despite consistent pressure from Rotundo on their feet. Rotundo did his part, escaping to lead with a minute remaining in the final period. With short time in the third, Carson committed hard to straight-on single-leg, hustling to a standing finish and scored a literal last-second takedown on the edge to steal a win for Little Rock. 5-4 Carson!

Joey Bianchi, at 149lbs, wrestled a high-octane match against #18 Austin Gomez. Leading in the third period, 7-6, after Gomez opted to go optional, Bianchi found himself in front of a charging Gomez and could not parry the over-under ties. Holding a left-side underhook, Bianchi was thrown for an eventual fall off a lateral throw. At 165lbs, Tyler Brennan faced #25 Dean Hamiti, and nearly notched the victory but was unable to escape in the third, losing 4-3 on riding time. Triston Wills (174) earned an emphatic 10-0 major for the Trojans over UR Kevin Meicher, earning the Trojans a bonus point for the evening. Of note, the Badgers did not field their #9-ranked, Andrew McNally, at 174. Altogether, the Trojan effort was taken by Head Coach Neil Erisman as indicative of the progress his roster has made in its young history. "​​The result wasn't acceptable, but it was encouraging because we did some things we worked hard on. We did well, we just got beat in the hustle and a little bit of the attack-mentality side," Erisman told campus media.

Saturday, November 13th, saw Stanford play host to #2 Oklahoma State as well as #23 Oregon State squaring off with #3 Penn State in advance of the Journeymen Collegiate Classic. The Cardinal held their own against nine-ranked Cowboys, despite notching only two match-victories on the day, falling 29-7. The Cardinal All-Americans came through for the home crowd, with #7 Jaden Abas putting an impressive 15-6 major decision on #22 Kaden Gfeller at 149lbs followed soon after, by defending national champion at 165lbs, #1 Shane Griffith shutting out #6 Travis Wittlake, 4-0. Griffith's complete match, characterized by an escape, takedown, and third-period rideout, earned him Pac-12 Wrestler of the Week honors. In loss, #21 (at 125lbs) Jackson DiSario managed to hold #2 Daton Fix to a 7-3 decision at 133lbs. Similarly, at 157, UR Charlie Darracott held off #14 Wyatt Sheets, 6-3. Finally, #31 Tyler Eischens scrapped with #16 Dustin Plott, falling 7-6.

The Beavers had a few impressive moments in their 32-7 loss against a very strong Penn State squad featuring four national champions among more All-Americans. #29 Brandon Kaylor (125) and #15 Hunter Willits (157) took advantage of unranked match-ups, with Kaylor chasing a major at the end of his bout and Willits chasing a technical fall before settling for a major. Strong efforts from UR Jason Shaner, against #1 Roman Bravo-Young, and #10 Grant Willits, against #2 Nick Lee, helped Oregon State avoid bonus-point defeats at 133 and 141, respectively. At 149lbs, #24 Cory Crooks was upset by the talented, UR Beau Bartlett. After earning an escape in the second, Bartlett put on a two-minute rideout to top the ranked Crooks, 1-0.

Sunday, November 14th brought tournament action from #3 Arizona State and #23 Oregon State, at the Mountaineer (App State) Invitational and the Journeyman Collegiate Classic, respectively, as well as a dual-meet between CSU Bakersfield and #6 Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Roadrunner staff traveled their team to Michigan with the intent of getting stiff competition, and that's what they found on Sunday, earning just one victory from their nine-wrestler squad in a 39-3 defeat. The lone victory stemmed from #21 Angelo Martinoni, who endured a 10-8 match over UR Patrick Nolan of Michigan at 141lbs. UR Augustine Garcia represented himself well against returning All-American, #11 Cameron Amine in a 5-2 decision loss at 165lbs.

In tournament action, Arizona State put on a dominant display in a seven-team field. The All-American laden Sun Devils earned eight tournament titles in the invitational bracket, highlighted by a huge fall from #6 Kyle Parco at 149lbs, as he caught All-American, #9 Jonathan Millner riding too high on top. At 133lbs, #7 Michael McGee took home the tournament crown, but the story for the Sun Devils was 3rd-place finisher, UR Julian Chlebove, who topped #17 Jared Van Vleet (Air Force), 9-7, to open his day, before dropping a 4-2 decision to #23 Brock Hudkins (Indiana) in the semi-finals. Hudkins would forfeit the final to McGee.

The Sun Devils' other titlists included #4 Brandon Courtney (125), UR Jesse Vasquez (141), #4 Jacori Teemer (157), #7 Anthony Valencia (165), #7 Kordell Norfleet (197), and #4 Cohlton Schultz (285).

At the Journeymen Collegiate Classic, the Beavers of Oregon State walked away with some lessons after a respectable amount of ranked match-ups. At 133lbs, #20 Devan Turner split ranked match-ups on his day, topping #24 Malyke Hines (Lehigh) in a 4-3 decision before dropping a 4-0 decision to #15 Michael Colaiocco (Penn). #10 Grant Willits had one blemish on his day, that being a 12-7 loss to #13 Dresden Simon of Central Michigan. #24 Cory Crooks took another "bad" loss on his weekend, taking another unranked loss -- this time to Central Michigan's Corbyn Munson, 8-5. #15 Hunter Willits was also upset by a CMU Chippewa, losing 4-2 to #28 Johnny Lovett at 157lbs. Finally, #24 "Gas Tank" Gary Traub weathered a brutal early-season slate, having lost to #5 Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State) on Saturday, #12 Matt Stencel (Central Michigan) and #10 Jordan Wood (Lehigh) on Sunday. In the case of Wood, it was the second time Traub had lost to the Mountain Hawk in as many weeks. With the upcoming week off from competition, the Oregon State Beavers will return home to recover and recuperate as they shore up their defenses in preparation for a November 27th dual against #1 Iowa.

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