The Pac-10 is coming to Boise

And the Boise State University wrestling team is more than ready to play host to the other wrestling teams in the Pac 10. In fact, the Broncos can't wait to defend their 2002 Pac 10 Conference Team Wrestling Championship by hosting the 2003 Pac 10 Conference Wrestling Championships on Sunday and Monday here in Boise, (March 2 and 3) at The Pavilion.

This will mark only the second time that Boise State University has played host to the Pac 10 Conference wrestling tournament. The last time BSU hosted the tournament was 10 years ago in 1993, and Boise State will not host it again until 2013. The 2003 Pac 10 Wrestling Championships will feature four different sessions. The first session begins at 11 a.m. Sunday March 2nd. The first session will feature first round and quarterfinal championship bracket matches, and several consolation bracket matches.

The 2nd session begins at 6 p.m. Sunday night and will feature the championship bracket semifinals along with consolation bracket preliminaries and quarterfinal matches.

The 3rd session begins at 11 a.m. Monday morning and will feature the consolation bracket semifinals, and the third and fifth place matches.

The finals will begin in the Pavillion at 6:30 p.m. Monday night and will feature the Championship matches and the awards ceremonies.

The Boise State wrestlers would never say it themselves, but they have a very good chance to land as many as seven of their ten wrestlers in the finals this season (and possibly eight). So you are likely to see a lot of blue and orange in this year's Pac 10 Conference wrestling championship finals.

At 125 lbs. Boise State features their highest nationally ranked wrestler in Senior, Ben VomBaur. He's currently ranked third in the nation at 125 lbs. (by Intermat). VomBaur will be the # 1 seeded wrestler at 125 lbs., at the Pac 10 tourney. His main competition will come from either Vic Moreno or Joel Mittlemen of Cal Poly (depending on which of these two wrestlers for Cal Poly competes, both are very good) and Efren Ceballos of Cal State Bakersfield or Martin Mitchell of Oregon. Ben VomBaur won the 125 lb. Pac 10 title in 2001. However, he was upset in the finals last season, and finished 2nd in the Pac 10 in 2002. Ben finished 4th in the nation last season at the NCAA wrestling tournament.

At 133 lbs. Boise State features one of their two defending Pac 10 Champions in Junior, Jesse Brock. Jesse upset the # 1 seeded wrestler at 133 lbs last season at the 2002 Pac 10 tournament, and he is looking to win another Pac 10 championship in 2003. His main competition will come from Brad Metzler of Stanford, Jason Harless of Oregon, Urijah Faber of U.C. Davis, Matt Sanchez of Cal State Bakersfield, and Mike Simpson of Arizona State. Any one of these six wrestlers could win the title in 2003. This is easily the most competitive weight class in the tournament.

At 141 lbs. Boise State's Gabe Vigil, a Senior this season, will almost certainly be the # 2 seeded wrestler at 141 lbs, behind Dana Holland of Arizona State. Vigil has met Holland twice this season, and lost both matches (by scores of 3-2 and 6-2). But do not count out Gabe Vigil here. He is very capable of upsetting the # 1 seed. Gabe's other major competitors for the title at 141 lbs. will likely be Casey Hunt of Oregon and Juan Mora of Cal State Fullerton. Gabe Vigil has qualified for the NCAA wrestling tournament each of his three previous seasons at Boise State and he looks to go to the NCAA tournament for the 4th straight time in 2003. Vigil is currently ranked # 10 in the nation by Intermat, at 141 lbs.

At 149 lbs. Boise State features their second defending Pac 10 wrestling champion in Senior, Collin Robertson. Collin Robertson is currently ranked # 5 in the nation by Intermat and his main competition this season will come from the # 1 ranked wrestler in the nation, Eric Larkin of Arizona State. Larkin took the 141 lbs. Pac 10 title last season and has moved up to 149 lbs. this season. This weight class is basically a two horse race for the title, but another major competitor at 149 lbs. is Tony Overstake of Oregon. He was the 2002 Pac 10 Champ at 157 lbs., and he moved down to 149 lbs. this season. In other words, three of the 2002 Pac 10 Champions are all competing against each other this season at 149 lbs. for the 2003 title. Tony Hook of Oregon State and Matt Cox of Cal Poly are two other major competitors at this weight class.

At 157 lbs. Boise State features one of their up and coming wrestlers, in Ben Cherrington. Cherrington has been a redshirt Freshman this season and he has done very well, despite a few bumps here and there. Look for him to upset someone at this weight class. The top ranked wrestlers at this weight class will include Rocky Smart of Arizona State, Jeremiah Jarvis of U.C. Davis, Matt Gentry of Stanford, Bransom Phillips of Oregon, Nick Hopping of Cal Poly and Brian Cobb of Cal State Bakersfield.

At 165 lbs. Boise State features a Senior wrestler, in Nathan Ploehn. The seedings for the Pac 10 tournament will not be made until Saturday, but it appears likely that Nathan Ploehn may be seeded 4th at 165 lbs this season. His main competition for the title will come from Nick Frost of Arizona State and Matt Ellis of Oregon State and Eric Arbogast of Portland State.

At 174 lbs. Boise State features Junior, Pat Owens. Last season Pat finished 4th at the 2002 Pac 10 tournament, and he looks to improve upon that finish this year. His main competition will come from Curtis Owen of Arizona State, Shane Webster of Oregon, Jake Huffman of Oregon State, Chris Carlino of Cal State Fullerton and Quinn Collett of Portland State.

At 184 lbs. Boise State's Tony D'Amico, a Junior this season, will attempt to win his first Pac 10 Championship. Last season Tony finished 3rd at the 2002 Pac 10 Championships as a Sophomore. His main competition will come from Ryan Halsey of Cal Poly, Jed Pennell of Oregon State and Rowdy Lundegreen of Cal State Fullerton.

At 197 lbs. Boise State will feature another very promising redshirt freshman, whether that will be K.C. Walsh or Casey Phelps. Both did very well this season. Phelps has been injured of late, so I would expect that K.C. Walsh will start for Boise State here. The main competition at this weight class is expected to come from Ryan Bader of Arizona State, Jason Lovell of Oregon State, and David Schenk of Cal Poly.

At 285 lbs. It is strictly a three "horse" race, and one of the three "horses" is Boise State's Boe Rushton. Boe, a Senior this season, is currently ranked 5th in the nation at 285 lbs. The other two "horses" are Kellan Fluckiger of Arizona State (ranked # 4 in the nation at 285 lbs.) and Andy Bowlby of Oregon State (ranked # 11). The other seven wrestlers at this weight class will not be in the running for the title.

The top four wrestlers in each of the 10 weight classes, will advance to the NCAA National Wrestling Championships, on March 20-22 (Thursday-Saturday) at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. Three wild card wrestlers (5th place finishers) will also be selected by the wrestling coaches and they will also attend the NCAA tournament and represent the Pac 10.

If you plan to attend all four sessions you can purchase an All-sessions tickets for only $25 for Adults (Junior all-session tickets are $18. Or you can purchase individual session tickets for only $7 per session for Adults and $5 per session for Juniors.

Boise State won their second Pac-10 Championship in the last three years at last year's tournament held at Oregon State University in Corvallis. Since 1998 Boise State has finished no worse than second place at the Pac 10 Conference Wrestling tournament.

Boise State is currently ranked 11th in the nation as a team (by InterMat). Arizona State University is currently ranked 13th in the nation as a team.

Collin Robertson, currently ranked # 5 in the nation at 149 lbs. & defending Pac 10 Champ at 149 lbs.

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