2008-09 Wrestling Season Outlook
Corvallis, Ore. ? After a third place Pac-10 finish and ending the 2007-08 season in 46th at the NCAA Championships, wrestling head coach Jim Zalesky and the Oregon State wrestling program is looking to start the climb in 2009 as the 2008-09 season begins in November.
The Beavers will look to fill a couple of spots in the lineup after losing two-time NCAA qualifiers Travis Gardner, who wrestled at heavyweight last season, and Kyle Larson, who wrestled at 149 pounds.
The Oregon State roster boasts 30 wrestlers this season, returning 10 competitors from last season, including the lone NCAA Championships qualifier senior Kyle Bressler (Federal Way, Wash.), 2008 Olympian senior Heinrich Barnes (Pretoria, South Africa) and Pac-10 fourth place finisher sophomore Tim Patrick (Milwaukie, Ore.). Other top returnees include senior Jake Gonzales (Enumclaw, Wash.) and junior Keegan Davis (Salem, Ore.).
Brothers junior Dan Brascetta (Aurora, Colo.) and sophomore Jon Brascetta (Aurora, Colo.) are expected to play a role this season, and sophomore Brice Arand (Springfield, Ore.) should show up in the lineup throughout the season.
After redshirting 10 freshmen last season, at least four are projected to start the season in the lineup ? Kelly Kubec (Lake Stevens, Wash.) at 133 pounds, Garrett Drucker (Huntington Beach, Calif.) at 141 pounds, Chad Hanke (Dayton, Ore.) and Clayton Jack (Vacaville, Calif.) at heavyweight. Jack earned international experience over the summer, competing in the Junior FILA Freestyle World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey after finishing second at the Junior FILA Nationals.
?Right now I think we?re excited about the year coming up with some freshmen and a lot of new guys in there,? Zalesky said. ?We?ve got a good nucleus of returning guys that have been there, and we feel that it?s a good mix. We?re not putting any limitations on this team.?
Those incoming freshmen and newcomers are highlighted by freshmen Mike Mangrum (Auburn, Wash.), who could work his way into the lineup at 141 pounds, Bubba Owens (Tillamook, Ore.), Caleb Vallotton (Bella Vista, Calif.) and Ty Vinson (Great Falls, Mont.). Also added to the roster is sophomore Alan Dickey (Sheridan, Ore.), who transferred from Portland State.
?I think Mike Mangrum was one of the top recruits in the country last year,? Zalesky said. ?He was a top five guy, and I think he could make an immediate impact. It depends what we do with him. Last year we redshirted all the freshmen that came in, and this year we?ll kind of see. He is a guy that if we feel he could make a difference in our team of where we want to be, we would use him. Otherwise, we?ll probably redshirt them. They have to be ready.?
But changes to the lineup aren?t the only changes that Zalesky and his staff have made for this season. After facing three ranked opponents last season in No. 11 Nebraska, No. 8 Iowa State and No. 12 Missouri, this season?s schedule gets even tougher.
?You have to be prepared for the end of the year, for the NCAA Championships? Zalesky said. ?The qualifying system is different now. Last year the Pac-10 got 38 qualifiers, but now the only guaranteed person to qualify is a conference champion, so how you do during the year can dictate how many qualifiers we get for the Pac-10.
Or you can qualify yourself for the NCAA Tournament during the year without worrying about what you do at the Pac-10 Tournament. So we kind of want to wrestle that competition to be prepared for that.?
The Beavers will face the Huskers, who finished in fourth, Cyclones, who finished tied for fifth, and Tigers, who finished 11th, again this season, but they have also added Michigan and Wisconsin to the schedule. Last season the Wolverines finished tied for seventh at the NCAA Championships and the Badgers ended their season 17th in the nation.
But tough competition isn?t only found in other conferences as in the Pac-10 Stanford finished 19th at the NCAA Tournament and Boise State ended the season just inside the top 25 in 24th. Cal Poly and Arizona State finished tied for 26th and 28th, respectively.
Oregon State kicks off the 2008-09 season against Simon Fraser at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Wash., on Saturday, Nov. 15. But the team?s first big test will take place on Friday, Nov. 28, in Lincoln, Neb., against the Huskers.
?We?ll see how we improve during the year, and as always we work for the end of the year ? the Pac-10s and NCAA Tournament,? Zalesky said.
The wrestling team begins its 2008-09 campaign on Saturday, Nov. 15, against Simon Fraser in Lake Stevens, Wash., at Lake Stevens High School. The meet is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m.