The DI postseason is upon us! Up until last year, the first conference tournament that took place was the Pac-12 Championships. The tournament was typically held on this weekend, a week ahead of all of the other conferences. We’re still used to having the Pac-12 Championships first, so it will be the first conference preview released.
The addition of Little Rock for the 2019-20 season brings the Pac-12 Championships back up to six teams, after having only five for the previous two years. The conference has an Arizona State team that was ranked in the top ten for the majority of the season and harbored hopes of an NCAA team trophy. With the loss of Zahid Valencia, the probability of a top-four finish nationally is low. Expected to fight Arizona State for the conference crown is Stanford, a team that won their first Pac-12 title in school history, a year ago. The Cardinal has a young, talented team that might just be able to go back-to-back. Oregon State lost a pair of All-Americans in the offseason to graduation, so they are not as imposing of a squad in a tournament setting. CSU Bakersfield is a team that has flown under the radar and has assembled a young nucleus that could be a serious contender in the future. Cal Poly has been the beneficiary of a couple of strong recruiting classes and is probably a year away from seeing the fruits of their labor on the recruiting trail pay off. While first-year program Little Rock has taken their lumps in 2019-20, they’ll have a few wrestlers that should contend for automatic qualifying berths to nationals.
Speaking of the 2020 NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 16 wrestlers from the Pac-12 will punch their tickets to the big show Saturday, March 7th, in Palo Alto, California, on the campus of Stanford. Before all the tournament gets underway, we have a weight-by-weight preview of all of the action that will take place at the Pac-12’s, along with predictions.
Automatic Qualifying Spots: (2)
The heavy favorite at this weight class has to be Arizona State’s Brandon Courtney. In his first full season as the Sun Devil’s starter, Courtney has come into his own and emerged as an All-American candidate, as his number eight ranking nationally may indicate. Brandon went undefeated in Pac-12 action and got better as the year went on. He has only lost once since the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December and that was to a top-five opponent. Another entrant that improved throughout the year is Oregon State’s redshirt freshman Brandon Kaylor. This Brandon’s last loss occurred when he faced Courtney in mid-January and he’s won eight straight since. Not only has Kaylor went unscathed since the Courtney loss, but he’s also been dominant. Kaylor has captured bonus points in six of those eight contests, with two falls.
The opponent most likely to break into the top two is true freshman Jackson DiSario of Stanford. DiSario’s best win of the year came over #26 Logan Treaster (Navy) and he is 19-8 overall. If the seeds hold and the two Brandon’s make the conference finals and there aren’t many spectacular upsets nationally, DiSario could be in decent position for an at-large berth.
Of the remaining three schools in the conference, only Jayden Carson of Little Rock carries a winning record. Carson lost to both Courtney and Kaylor and received forfeit during the Trojans dual with Stanford. He did not see either Benny Martinez (Cal Poly) or Alex Hernandez-Figueroa (CSU Bakersfield). While both Martinez and Hernandez-Figueroa have sub-.500 records, Hernandez-Figueroa seems to be trending better lately. He took the head-to-head meeting between the two and Martinez is currently on an eight-match losing streak.
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