photo courtesy of Cam Kramer
Conference season is upon us. This week we have five DI conferences in action and each day, we’ll bring a new preview. We’ll start out west with the Pac-12.
The conference is in flux as recent power Stanford’s athletic department announced that they would be dropping the sport in July. Since then, there have been plenty of efforts to keep the program, though this isn’t the proper place to detail everything surrounding the Stanford team. Even with uncertainty in the air, the Cardinal has been able to send out a formidable squad, led by undefeated, third-ranked Shane Griffith. Now that that’s out of the way, we have a handful of teams in the Pac-12 with upward trajectories. #5 Arizona State finished the year unbeaten in dual competition and will undoubtedly be in the hunt for a team trophy at nationals in St. Louis. Half of the Sun Devils’ ten starters are currently ranked in the top-eight at their respective weight classes and all five are unbeaten. Despite a first-year coaching staff, Oregon State has a veteran-laden squad that boasts three past national qualifiers. With their recruiting, the Beavers should be in contention for Pac-12 titles, sooner rather than later. Speaking of recruiting, Cal Poly has been able to retain some of the best in-state talent and the results have begun to show on the mat. Little Rock has been aggressive on the recruiting trail too, and has a lot of excitement around the second-year program. Finally, we have a CSU Bakersfield team that we don’t know much about. The Roadrunners have participated in only two duals this year under first-year head coach Luke Smith.
The condensed season has forced the NCAA to modify its NCAA qualifier allocations for the 2021 season. That means instead of wrestlers earning spots for their conference based on this year’s performance, the NCAA awarded bids based on the last five years’ average at each weight. As we go through our preview, you’ll notice that those bids don’t always correlate with the results on the mat in 2021. A handful of Pac-12 weights have more high-caliber wrestlers than bids available. For those wrestler’s sake, I’m sure their coaches and fans are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping there are minimal upsets at other qualifying events.
Below, we’ve gone through each weight class and previewed its competitors and made predictions for the championship finals, along with national qualifiers, and the team race.
When: Sunday, February 28th
Where: Corvallis, Oregon
Arizona State - #4 Brandon Courtney
Cal Poly - Antonio Lorenzo
CSU Bakersfield - Eddie Flores
Little Rock - Khyler Brewer
Oregon State - #29 Brandon Kaylor
Stanford - #28 Jackson DiSario
Automatic NCAA Qualifying Spots Available (2)
Want to read more of this article and others like it? Become an TOM Prime Member for as low as $2.22/month!
Members Login Below.
*All subscriptions are billed on 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year basis.