OSU wrestling battles for the border war axe

Danny Rice Sports Reporter

Oregon State hosts Boise State on Sunday

The coveted Border War Axe will be up for grabs this weekend as Oregon State hosts Boise State this Sunday at 11 a.m.

The Border War dates back more than a quarter of a century. The schools are separated by a little more than 500 miles and have met 49 times, with the Beavers coming out victorious in 31 of those meets.

The Axe was added to the rivalry in 2009 when a Boise State wrestler crafted the series trophy out of wood. The Beavers won both matches last year.

Beavers Head Coach Jim Zalesky is excited for the rivalry match and hopeful of keeping the axe in their possession.

“There’s a little bit of extra intensity this week,” Zalesky said. “It’s the Border War—you have to get up for it and come out ready.”

“We are all looking forward to it,” said senior 165-pounder Seth Thomas. “We know Boise State is going to come in fighting hard so we have to be ready for it.”

The Beavers (10-6, 2-2 Pac-12) have won the past three meetings. The team’s longest winning streak against the Broncos (3-8, 1-4) was seven consecutive wins from 1989 to 1995.

This will be the first time since 2008 that these two teams have only faced once in a season.

“(Facing them twice) just hurt us in the RPI and it didn’t help our individual standings,” Zalesky said of the change. “It kind of hurt us nationally as well so we decided to go with just one meet a year.”

Senior Day

Along with the Border War, Sunday’s match carries a little bit more significance because it is senior day. The Beavers will honor one lone senior this year—Thomas.

“I’m just going to make the most of it,” Thomas said. “I am going to make sure I have fun for my last go around.”

Thomas said being at Oregon State has meant a lot to him.

“I’ve grown so much during my time here—both as a person and as a wrestler,” Thomas said. “It went by in a blink of an eye so I have to take advantage of every opportunity I get to step on the mat.”

Zalesky had high praise for his captain.

“He sets a great example on and off the mat,” Zalesky said. “He’s what a student-athlete is all about and he has been a great leader for us.”

Redshirt junior 133-pounder Joey Palmer echoed his coach’s sentiments and added he knows Thomas is going to be successful later in life.

“He’s really stepped up and has been a really good captain of the team,” Palmer said. “It sucks to lose him but he’s trying to be a doctor and we all wish him the best of luck.”

Coaching in Different Colors

There will be a familiar face on the Boise State bench on Sunday, former All-American Taylor Meeks. Meeks is in his first year as an assistant coach for the Broncos.

Meeks was a four-time NCAA qualifier during his time at Oregon State and earned All-American honors at 197 pounds as a redshirt sophomore in 2013. He concluded his career ranked 10th all-time at OSU in wins (122) and had a career record of 122-33.

“It’s going to be strange at first,” Zalesky said of seeing Meeks in Bronco colors. “But that’s part of his job now and we are proud of him.”

Zalesky said Meeks tried to become part of the Beaver staff in 2015, but once he found out there weren’t any positions available, he started looking elsewhere and found a home in Boise.

Taming the Broncos

Redshirt junior 149-pounder Joey Delgado will be tested this weekend as he faces No. 15 sophomore 149-pounder Geordan Martinez. Martinez is an NCAA qualifier from a year ago and has kept the momentum going this year, as he currently boasts a 25-5 record.

The Broncos have been struggling as of late. They have lost their last six dual meets and haven’t won a road dual meet since Nov. 22nd.

Zalesky is confident his team won’t experience a letdown on Sunday before the Pac-12 Championships next week.

“We just have to continue the way we’ve been wrestling,” Zalesky said. “I told the guys that we are keeping guys in matches and when you get to this time of the year, we got to put guys away when we get the chance.”

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