Beavers wrestling ‘excited’ for Pac-12 Championships

Danny Rice Sports Reporter

When the No. 22 Beavers hit the mat on Saturday, they have the opportunity to win their fifth consecutive Pac-12 championship—something Oregon State hasn’t achieved since 1969.

Head Coach Jim Zalesky is happy with how his team has fared the past four years but knows Saturday will be a whole new battle.

“It’s a new year and we will have to earn it,” Zalesky said. “We have some new guys in the lineup and some guys are in different weight classes than years past. We have to wrestle well to give us a chance to win.”

No. 7 sophomore 125-pounder Ronnie Bresser is anxious for the weekend and noted how quick the season has gone.

“It’s crazy how we started with 17 duals and five tournaments on our schedule and now we are down to the last two tournaments,” Bresser said. “We are excited to finish strong.”


Even though the Beavers will enter four returning or former Pac-12 champions and three more Pac-12 finalists, there will be a couple wrestlers making their first Pac-12 tournament appearance—including redshirt freshman 184-pounder Corey Greigo.

“I’m just excited,” Greigo said. “It should be fun and I’m feeling good.”

While he doesn’t want to overlook anybody, Greigo is eager for a rematch with returning Pac-12 champion and All-American redshirt senior Blake Stauffer of Arizona State.

“I’m looking and hoping to wrestler Stauffer again,” Greigo said. “Last time, I went out hard at first and then I slowed down. I can’t slow down this time and I have to make a tough match for him the whole time.”

Greigo (22-9) lost to Stauffer earlier in the season 6-4, but hopes he is peaking at the right time as he has won his past seven matches—with six of them coming by major decision or better.

How to Qualify for the NCAA Tournament

The easiest way for a wrestler to qualify for the NCAA tournament, which is held from March 17th-19th, is to win their respective weight class.

The next way to qualify is through the allocation process. The NCAA committee comes out with a specific list of how many spots are guaranteed from each weight class, in each conference. In the Pac-12, there are usually about two spots guaranteed per weight class, whereas in the Big Ten, there are sometimes nine or ten spots guaranteed per weight class.

The next way to qualify is to be selected as an at-large. After the conference champions and allocated wrestlers have been added, the NCAA wrestling committee meets to decide what wrestlers will receive an at-large bid. At-large selections are based on: head-to-head competition, quality wins, and other various components.

For Zalesky, it’s simple—win your weight class.

“When we get down there, our mindset has to be to win our weight class,” Zalesky said. “Because if you win your weight class, you are automatically in and the pressure is off.”

What to Watch For

In the 125-pound weight class, Bresser (26-6) will more than likely have the chance to avenge one of his losses this season to Stanford’s redshirt sophomore Connor Schram. Schram defeated Bresser 4-3 in their lone meeting of the year.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Bresser said. “(In order to win), I just have to stay on my attacks. I have to push the pace because he’s going to want to make it a close match but I’ll have to keep the pressure on him.”

In the heavyweight bracket, No. 10 sophomore Amarveer Dhesi—who is riding a ten-match win streak—will look to secure his first Pac-12 championship. This won’t be an easy feat, as he’ll have returning Pac-12 champion redshirt sophomore Nathan Butler of Stanford and Arizona State’s freshman Tanner Hall in his bracket. Dhesi (24-3) beat Butler 8-6 this season and has gone 1-1 in his matches against Hall.

At the 165-pound weight class, senior Seth Thomas (18-8) is also have the opportunity to capture his first ever Pac-12 championship. He has been the Pac-12 finals before but has come up short. He will likely face Stanford’s redshirt junior Jim Wilson, who is the returning Pac-12 champion. Wilson bested Thomas 7-6 in their only meeting of the year.

If there’s one sleeper Beavers fan should keep an eye on, it’s in the 157-pound weight class. Redshirt sophomore Abraham Rodriguez (14-13) is heating up as of late as he is on a six match win streak and went 4-1 in Pac-12 play, with his only loss coming against Arizona State’s senior Matt Kraus—who will likely be in the 149-pound weight class.

Quest For Their Fifth Consecutive Title

For the Beavers to win their fifth consecutive conference title, the Beavers are going to need to come out better than they did last time they were in Tempe, Ariz.—the site of the Pac-12 Championships. The Beavers lost to Arizona State 24-12.

“Last time we went down there, we were worrying about how we felt,” Zalesky said. “At this point, you’re never going to feel 100% so you can’t be worrying about those things.”

Instead, Zalesky is preaching to his team to worry about their own matches and the team score will take care of itself.

“We just need to wrestle the whole seven minutes,” Zalesky said. “It’s just the little things that are going to win the tough matches this late in the season. If we do that, the team score will come together and we’ll have a chance to win.”

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