Pac-12 Conference Recap (12/24/21)

Arizona State All-American Anthony Valencia (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo;

The wrestling gods saw fit to give us a week full of excitement both on and off the mat as we approached the Christmas holiday. At the time of this writing, event organizers and college teams are scrambling in the wake of the cancellation of the Ken Kraft Midlands tournament. Fortunately, it appears the powers that are known as MatScouts (among others) are already working to make the best of the cancellation.

Prior to this news, however, college wrestling fans had all eyes on the inaugural Collegiate Wrestling Duals, hosted in Niceville, Florida by Journeymen Wrestling. A not-so-"national duals" event brought together some of the best teams in the land and it surely delivered in terms of ranked match-ups, upsets, and controversy. For the Pac-12, another well-attended tournament for the conference in Nevada - this time, the Reno Tournament of Champions - primed fans for the action to come in the following days.

Reno Tournament of Champions (December 19th)

The team-title and nine finalists overall highlighted another successful tournament for the Pac-12 conference, with Oregon State leading the conference effort at the Reno Tournament of Champions (Reno TOC). The Beavers came away with the tournament title, five individual titles, and, importantly, many head-to-head victories over conference opponents. Conference match-ups were inevitable, as a portion of the #25 Stanford squad, a non-starter contingent of #16 (tied) Cal Poly, and an unexpected CSU Bakersfield line-up joined Oregon State in Reno. These match-ups provided us with an early gauge of where conference competitors compare against one another as we head into the second semester.

TOC titles from #13 Brandon Kaylor (125), #21 Devan Turner (133), #11 Grant Willits (141), UR Trey Munoz (184), and #10 Gary Traub (285) highlighted the Beavers' performance, with Munoz winning the bracket in his first "attached" competition of the season. En route to the finals, Munoz topped two teammates as well as two unranked opponents in Clarion's Ryan Weinzen and Northern Colorado's Branson Britten. Munoz capped his perfect outing with a 3-2 decision over #17 Tate Samuelson of Wyoming to earn the tournament title. "Gas Tank" Gary earned his second straight tournament victory topping, among others, three Pac-12 opponents. Traub opened the tournament with a 6-4 decision over Stanford's UR Seamus O'Malley and ended his tournament with two decisions over Cal Poly - a 9-3 decision over Trevor Tinker and a 3-1 sudden-victory decision over Sam Aguilar in the finals, respectively. Traub's sudden-victory takedown in the championship match was the bump Oregon State (174pts) needed to take the team title from second-place Wyoming (172pts).

Devan Turner defeated two, ranked conference opponents for his 133lbs Reno TOC title. In the semis, Turner blanked #33 Jackson DiSario (Stanford), 5-0, before beating rival, #15 Chance Rich (CSU Bakersfield), 7-3, in the finals. At 149lbs, Lane Stigall of Oregon State finished in third-place, losing by fall in the semifinals to Cal Poly's Luka Wick. Unattached Beaver Isaiah Crosby reached the tournament finals at 157lbs, losing a 7-5 decision to #12 Jacob Wright of Wyoming to finish runner-up. At 165lbs, UR Matthew Olguin advanced to the finals, but fell to Clarion's Cameron Pine, 7-4. At 174lbs for the Beavers (and the Roadrunners of Bakersfield), the bane of the day was one Casey Randles of Grand View. A graduate transfer from Division 1 Wyoming, Randles is currently ranked #3 in the NAIA at 174, and earned victories over both #25 Mateo Olmos and UR Mason Reiniche. Despite their loss to Randles, both Olmos and Reiniche earned victories over conference opponents on their path to sixth- and third-place victories. Olmos put a 12-4 major on #28 Tyler Eischens (Stanford), while Reiniche topped Jarad Priest (Cal Poly) by decision and pinned Cael Valencia (Arizona State). Finally, the battle for the leading role at 197lbs continued for Oregon State, as Ryan Reyes defeated teammate JJ Dixon by 10-2 major decision in the consolation finals. Although Reyes won the head-to-head in definitive fashion, both Reyes and Dixon earned notable conference wins on their day. Dixon nearly majored #32 Nick Stemmet (Stanford) in an 11-4 decision in addition to a 12-0 major over UR Mateo Morales (CSU Bakersfield). For his part, Reyes got past Josh Loomer (CSU Bakersfield), 4-3.

I would be remiss to omit the fact that performances among conference wrestlers were fraught with early departures (i.e., medical forfeits and defaults). The aforementioned Oregon State was no exception, with #25 Mateo Olmos forfeiting the fifth-place bout to CSU Bakersfield's rising, UR Albert Urias (174). (Urias, like Oregon State's Olmos and Reiniche, also took a loss to Grand View's Casey Randles.) The script was flipped at 141 and 165 for the Roadrunners, with #20 Angelo Martinoni (141) bowing out of the tournament after an unranked loss to Chase Zollman (Wyoming) and UR Augustine Garcia (165) doing the same after a 14-0 major decision loss to UR Cameron Pine (Clarion). The Roadrunner effort was led by #15 Chance Rich's runner-up finish at 133lbs, followed by Urias's fifth-place medal and UR Josh Loomer's sixth-place medal at 197lbs. The Stanford Cardinal experienced a couple early departures of their own on the day, with All-American Real Woods (141) stepping out of the tournament after reaching the semifinals and All-American, #11 Jaden Abas (149) injury defaulting out during a match with Oregon State's Lane Stigall. Despite the early departures, the Cardinal were lifted by medal performances from #33 Jackson DiSario (third at 133) and #32 Nick Stemmet (fifth at 197). Stemmet bounced back from his conference-loss to Oregon State's JJ Dixon to go on and defeat Cal Poly's Trent Tracy, 3-1, and CSU Bakersfield's Josh Loomer, 7-3.

The Cal Poly contingent came away from Reno TOC with a pair of finalists, a third-place, and a fifth-place finisher. At 133lbs, UR Abe Hinrichsen benefited from early departures, with two consolation victories by no contest giving him the fifth-place medal. To his credit, Hinrichsen wrestled #15 Chance Rich (CSU Bakersfield) tough, falling 3-1 in sudden victory. Luka Wick (149) made the finals, but forfeited to Jaron Jensen (Wyoming). Finally, Cal Poly's two heavyweights, Trevor Tinker and Sam Aguilar, finished third and second behind Oregon State's #10 Gary Traub. While the rest of the Sun Devils traveled to Florida for the Collegiate Wrestling Duals, Cael Valencia split matches against conference competitors to finish fourth at 174lbs. Valencia notched an important victory in the quarterfinals over Stanford's #28 Tyler Eischens, before dropping falls in the semifinal and third-place bout to #15 Hayden Hastings (Wyoming) and UR Mason Reiniche (Oregon State), respectively.

Collegiate Wrestling Duals - Day 1 (December 20th)

The #6 Arizona State Sun Devils represented the Pac-12 conference in the inaugural Collegiate Wrestling Duals, taking on Hofstra and #9 Virginia Tech on Day 1. With Frank Molinaro and Anthony Valencia stepping off the plane fresh off a Mexican National title (freestyle), Arizona State took it to Hofstra, winning eight of the nine contested bouts (in addition to a forfeit victory at 133lbs). Arizona State fielded their No.1's at all but 184lbs, winning the first six bouts of the dual-meet before Freshman Jacob Ortiz dropped a 10-1 major to #25 Charles Small at 184lbs. The Sun Devils stopped the bleeding immediately, closing out the dual with two major decisions over ranked opponents. At 197, #8 Kordell Norfleet put a 14-3 spread on #26 Trey Rogers, followed by a 12-3 major from #3 Cohlton Schultz over #20 Zachary Knighton-Ward at heavyweight to cap a 42-4 dual-victory for Arizona State.

Facing a fellow top-10 program in Virginia Tech, Arizona State displayed some grit, earning decisions in each of the first six bouts to build a practically insurmountable lead in the dual - four of which victories were within two points or less. Exceptions were an 8-4 decision from #3 Brandon Courtney (125) over #16 Sam Latona and a 14-1 major from #5 Kyle Parco (149) over UR Kylan Montgomery. Taking command of the dual was no easy task, as the first six bouts of the dual featured three ranked match-ups. #14 Michael McGee upset #4-ranked 133lber Korbin Myers, 8-7, to the praise of Head Coach Zeke Jones. "The game-ball goes to Michael McGee, getting a top-five win, a guy that beat him last year at the NCAA tournament. And the way he did it: really gritty, really tactical, really solid - I liked [it]," Jones told @ArizonaWrestler on Rokfin. Finally, #3 Jacori Teemer fended off #22 Connor Brady, 3-1. When all was said and done, Arizona State toppled Virginia Tech, 23-13, winning seven of ten matches.

Collegiate Wrestling Duals - Day 2 (December 21st)

Two Day 1 victories set the stage for the highly-anticipated showdown between #6 Arizona State and #2 Penn State. The Sun Devils wrestled the Nittany Lions tough through the first six matches, splitting them evenly to enter the final four matches with the dual knotted at 10-10. At 125lbs, #3 Brandon Courtney (125) came out with fire in his veins against unranked Jakob Campbell, scoring takedowns nearly at will with his patented, slick style. Hunting for bonus, Courtney came away with an 18-7 major to start the dual strong for Arizona State. The Sun Devils then weathered a three match stretch that included #14 Michael McGee (133) holding National Champion and #1 Roman Bravo-Young to a 6-2 decision. #15 Jesse Vasquez survived his test against National Champion, #1 Nick Lee, conceding "only" a 14-3 major decision at 141lbs. With the dual score at 10-4 Penn State entering 157lbs, it was now Penn State's turn to weather the Sun Devil's best. #3 Jacori Teemer took on a scrappy, albeit unranked, Tony Negron of Penn State. Scoring on a takedown quickly in the match, Teemer appeared en route to a bonus point victory, but Negron's efforts kept Teemer honest and at-bay, ultimately keeping Teemer to an 8-3 decision. Similarly, at 165lbs, #6 Anthony Valencia for Arizona State was well in control of his match against #26 Creighton Edsell, leading 10-3 with short-time in the bout. Hunting for a major decision, Valencia gave away a takedown at the end of the bout when he attempted a chest-wrap throw on the edge. A 10-5 decision at 165lbs was good enough to tie the dual, 10-10.

Then, the Nittany Lions pulled away. Fielding #1 Carter Starocci (174), #1 Aaron Brooks (184), #3 Max Dean (197), and #4 Greg Kerkvliet (285), the Penn State back-four overwhelmed the remaining Arizona State wrestlers, earning a tech-fall, fall, major, and major to close out the dual. Unranked Zane Coleman (174), Josh Nummer (184), and Chad Porter (285) did their best against their top-four match-ups, but nonetheless gave-up a collective six bonus-points. At 197lbs, #8 Kordell Norfleet conceded a definitive 10-1 major decision to a physical Max Dean. Of note, with the dual-meet lost, #3 Cohlton Schultz did not take the mat at heavyweight against #4 Kerkvliet. Final score, 29-10 Penn State, with Arizona State finishing second in the blue-pool at the inaugural Collegiate Wrestling Duals.

I hope you enjoyed catching up on all things Pac-12 from this past week! We at InterMat wish you all a warm and safe holiday. If you're itching to watch the action from this week yourself, the Reno TOC event is on-demand via FloWrestling, while the Collegiate Wrestling Duals' replays are now available on-demand via @CollegiateDuals on Rokfin.


Login or Register to post a comment