Boise State placed three wrestlers in the finals of the PAC-10 Wrestling Championships in action yesterday at Palo Alto, California. Seniors Scott Jorgensen and Ben Cherrington and freshman Tyler Sherfey gave the Broncos finalists in three of the lower five weight classifications. All three have earned berths in the NCAA Championships. In all, 39 berths in the nationals will be handed out--three in each weight class and nine at-large. The trio are joined by five other teammates still alive in the competition; those five will participate in the consolation round beginning at noon MST.
The Broncos moved slightly ahead of #4 Oregon State heading into today's action and have 73 points. #12 Arizona State leads the way with 103 points. ASU has 5 wrestlers in tonight's finals and three more in consolation. #23 Cal Poly has amassed 90 points and has all ten wrestlers still alive, three in the finals and seven in consolation. Cal State-Bakersfield has 74 points with three wrestlers in the finals and four in consolation. OSU is in 5th place with 70 points. The Beavers have two wrestlers featured in the finals and five more in consolation. Cal-Davis has 64.5 points (2 in the finals and 5 in consolation), Oregon has 44 (1 and 4), host Stanford 37 points (1 and 3), Cal State-Fullerton 24 (four in the consolation bracket) and Portland State 1 point with no one remaining.
Boise State is still mathematically alive for the championship if everything were to fall the Broncos' way today. Realistically, however, Coach Greg Randall's team has a good shot at third.
15th-ranked Jorgensen, the two-time defending champion at 133 pounds but only seeded #3, defeated Omar Gaitan of UC-Davis 11-6 and then decisioned #2 seed Darrell Vasquez of Cal Poly (ranked 17th in the nation) 5-3. Jorgensen faces 5th-seed Tommy Vargas of Bakersfield in tonight's finals. Vargas, ranked 5th nationally, upset top seed Justin Pearch of Oregon in the semi-final. Jorgensen defeated Vargas 3-1 at the Las Vegas Invitational earlier this year.
Seeded second at 149 pounds, Sherfey defeated junior Jesse Padilla of UC Davis, 7-4 in the quarterfinals and then defeated #3 seed Jeff Owens of Cal Poly 3-2 to become the second Bronco in the finals. He'll meet #1 seed Anthony Baza of Cal State-Bakersfield (ranked 20th nationally) in one of six weight classes that went according to the top seeding. Baza won a major decision over Oregon sophomore Stewart Bogart and defeated 5th-seed Morgain Atkinson of Fullerton 6-2 to reach the finals. Sherfey handed Baza one of only two defeats this season when he earned a 15-4 major at the Vegas Invitational.
Cherrington, who won the PAC-10 Championship at 149 pounds before moving up to the 157-pound class this year, is seeded number one and defeated Daniel Atondo of Cal State-Bakersfield by technical fall, 15-0. Cherrington remained undefeated on the season after sounding defeating the #4 seed, Scott Loescher of host Stanford, by a count of 11-0 in last night's semi-finals. Cherrington takes a spot opposite Arizona State junior Brian Stith in the finals. Stith, #9 in the nation and the defending conference champion at 157, pinned Kainoa Casco of Portland State and defeated #3 seed Tony Hook of Oregon State 7-0 to earn a berth against Cherrington. Stith has won 15 of his last 16 matches.
Cory Fish lost to # 3 seed Eric Stevenson of Oregon State, 6-3, in the 125-pound class then defeated Zach Bigboy of Cal State-Bakersfield. The bad news is that #1 seed Jeremy Mendoza of Arizona State (#6 in the nation) was upset and is now Fish's next opponent. If Fish loses that, he will face the loser of the Stevenson/Marcus Orozco (Cal-Davis) match for 5th place. An upset over Mendoza would put him into a third-place contest against the winner of the Stevenson/Orozco dual.
Sophomore Johnny Nunez lost a major decision to #1 seed Joey Bracamonte of Oregon (#10 nationally), 15-3, at 165 pounds but came back to defeat senior Chris Feist of Portland State by fall and then upset #6 Risto Marttinen of Cal State-Fullerton. He faces sophomore Robb Maxwell of Cal Poly in this morning's consolation round. Maxwell was the wrestler who shocked Bracamonte 19-7 to bump Bracamonte into the consolation bracket. Nunez needs that win if the Broncos have any hope of catching the Mustangs in the team standings.
6th-seeded K.C. Walsh opened with an 8-3 loss to #3 seed Ryan Halsey of Cal Poly at 184 pounds. Walsh then defeated Brandon Ceremello of Cal State-Bakersfield 13-6 in the wrestleback and pinned Ryan Hagen of Stanford. Walsh takes on #5 seed Jesse Taylor of Cal State Fullerton this morning. Taylor defeated 4th seed Tyler Bernacchi of Davis but lost to #1 seed Shane Webster. The other consolation bracket has Halsey meeting Bernacchi. As the Broncos find themselves behind this morning, a Walsh win or two would be huge in the team standings.
Bronco senior Casey Phelps handed 5th-seed Eliot Kelley of UC Davis a 7-5 defeat at 197 pounds but was knocked into the consolation bracket with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to #1 seed Ryan Bader of Arizona State. Bader is a three-time defending PAC-10 champion who finished 4th at the Nationals last year. Phelps will meet up with #6 seed Chris Chambers of Cal State-Fullerton. Chambers lost to #3 Dan Pitsch of Oregon State, then defeated Oregon redshirt freshman Shaun Dee and Colton Nichols of Cal State-Bakersfield to reach this point. The other consolation match finds Pitsch against Kelly.
Freshman heavyweight Andy Patrick, 4th seeded in his weight class, posted a 5-2 decision over junior Arturo Basulto of Cal Poly but was defeated by #1 seed and defending champion Cain Velasquez of Arizona State to move him to the consolation bracket. Patrick willl be challenged by #6 seed Chris Dearman of Oregon. Dearman lost to 3rd seed Eric Parker of Bakersfield and defeated Jared Boyer of Stanford. Parker was subsequently defeated by #2-seed Ty Watterson of Oregon State and he'll face Basulto in the other consolation match.
Two Bronco wrestlers have been eliminated thus far. Jordan Brock, Boise State's representative in the 141-pound weight class, was pinned by the #9 wrestler in the country, Derek Moore of UC-Davis at the 4:53 mark. Brock then drew #6 Jason Robbins of Arizona State in the "wrestleback" round and lost 9-2, eliminating Brock in the competition. Ben Gilliland who was pinned by Ken Cook of Davis in the 174 pound weight class decisioned sophomore Chris Remsen of Arizona State 5-3 in the wrestleback round but was eliminated when he was pinned by #6 seed Luke Feist of Stanford.