OSU looks to build on last seasons success and defend Pac-10 title
By The OWF staff
The defending Pac-10 champs, the Oregon State Beavers, are looking to continue to build on last years success. Repeating that success, may prove to be difficult as the Beavers lost several key wrestlers from last years squad. However, 2nd year coach, Jim Zalesky, is confident that they will still be the team to beat.
After losing All-American HWT, Ty Watterson, to graduation and near All-American 174lber, Jeremy Larson, the Beavers look like just another team trying to rebuild. Top that off with losing starters 125lber Eric Stevenson, 133lber Bobby Pfennigs and 149lber Derek Kipperberg, you would think they could be fighting for the middle of the pack in the Pac-10.
So, what do you do in a situation like this? You recruit like no other and rebuild from there. The Beavers recruited 12 new freshman for this years team and the future looks bright. Majority of these recruits are multiple state champs or high school All-Americans, along with some of the top ranked seniors in the nation for 2007.
Leading this years class were:
Kelly Kubec Lake Stevens HS(WA)
Josh Stalcup Estacada HS
Chad Hanke Dayton HS
Barry Hood Jefferson HS
Garrett Drucker Edison HS(CA)
Clayton Jack Vacaville HS(CA)
Shane Nay Oak Park HS(MO)
Tyler Phillips Cascade HS
Cameron Rosenfield Madras HS
Alex Reser Westview HS
Anthony Peressini Coronado HS(NV)
Jesse Kane North Valley HS
According to the OSU coaching staff, they plan on trying to redshirt all of these incoming freshman. They may take a hit now, but are looking towards the future with this outstanding class of freshman. However, a bonus to this years recruiting class were the additions to two stand out Jr College All-Americans in JC Champ, 141lb Heinrich Barnes and 149 All-American Coby Jones.
"I'm excited about all our young guys as they are head and shoulders above where they need to be," said Zalesky.
So, in order for the Beavers to defend their Pac-10 title, they will rely heavily on sophomore, junior and senior leadership. OSU will look to returning NCAA qualifiers, 184lber Jr. Kyle Bressler, 197lber Sr. Travis Gardner and previous qualifier, 141/149 Sr. Kyle Larson. In addition to the returning qualifiers will be 125lber Jr. Jake Gonzalez and bumping up in weight, 165lber So Keegan Davis. "They need to step up and be leaders this year," says Zalesky. "They've worked hard over the summer and they are capable of winning the tough matches," added Zalesky.
One thing that will help these returning letterman with their progress and getting ready for the long and grueling season, will be the addition of several previous NCAA All-Americans, either coaching for the Beavers now or working out for the Olympics on their club team. Alex Clemson comes from Ediboro and was an All-American last season at 184lbs. Alex is their new Director of Operations, replacing Stryder Davis. Also, working out this year for the club team along with Davis, will be Michigan State All-Americans Nick and Andy Simmons. Sticking around this year as a student assistant coach is Pfennigs. "With the additions to our coaching staff and the new guys in our club, this will help our team tremendously," mentioned Zalesky.
To test the grit of this years team, OSU has stepped up their schedule this season in order to compete against some of the very best wrestlers in the nation. "You have to see the tough kids before you get to the NCAA's," said Zalesky.
This season, the Beavers will not only be traveling to the Las Vegas Invite once again, but making trips out to the National Duals in Virginia, as well as dualing national powers, Missouri, Iowa State and Nebraska. This will be quite a test for OSU, but the pay off could be great as they come into the Pac-10 championships in March.
Being his 2nd year as head coach of the Beavers, coach Zalesky had this to say about his first year out west.
"I think we've made a lot of progress out here and as long as we continue to make that progress, we will get to where we want to be. This year, the team is very excited about wrestling and hope to defend their Pac-10 title," said Zalesky. "I think this year we made huge strides in our recruiting and the kids are seeing the coaches level of commitment to the program. If we continue to work hard, good things will happen. We were somewhat the underdogs last year and we managed to win the title. Coming in as underdogs again, may work in our favor. Our lightweights really need to step up this year if we're going to make those things happen," added Jim.
This years line-up could look like this:
125 Jake Gonzalez
133 Up in the air, but look for Jr Ryan Enoch or RSFR Clifton Ivanoff to challenge for the spot
141 Could see Jr Heinrich Barnes here or Sr Kyle Larson
149 Whoever loses out at 141, will most likely bump up
157 Look for RSFR Dan Brascetta and Tim Patrick or Jr Andy Hall to duke it out for the starting spot
165 So Keegan Davis will bump up
174 Jr Brandon Perkins or RSFR Chris Platt will challenge here
184 Jr Kyle Bressler
197 Could see a mix of wrestlers here in Sr Travis Gardner or RSFR Brice Arand
HWT Is a toss up, as Fr Clayton Jack is the only true HWT on the current team, however, Brennon Alander may come back after football. We could also see Gardner or Arand bump up
Overall, the Beavers look to be on the right path to not only defend their Pac-10 title this season, but continue to build from there and start making their way up the ranks of one of the nations best. The Beavers open up competition this season against in state rival, Portland State at Portland, Nov 13th. Their first home dual won't be until Dec 9th against Southern Oregon U at 2pm.
Cougars look to improve on last season and bring home another team trophy
By The OWF staff
After a surprise finish last year at Nationals for Clackamas Community College, Cougars head coach, Josh Rhoden only sees the team getting better and better with each year and look to contend for yet another top 10 finish.
The Cougars had 6 All-Americans last season, with two of them returning in 141lber, Derick Bartelmay and HWT, John Bates. Look for these two, along with National qualifier, Jim Halicki at 197lbs, to lead this squad to the promise land and compete against the likes of national powers North Idaho and Iowa Central.
The OWF had an opportunity to chat with coach Rhoden on his thoughts for this season and what we can look forward to from the Cougars.
Your thoughts on this upcoming season? Bright points.
The season is off to a great start! We had 65 guys come out to try and make the team which was great. We have a great core of returnees who are helping our younger guys become familiar with the system and get acclimated to college life. I am really looking forward to this season because we want to build on our success from last year. Aside from the National Championship in 1971 it is right up there as one of our best years as a program.
I personally am looking forward to our duals at Northwest Wyoming where we will dual teams like two time JC champs Iowa Central, Sierra College and Northwest Wyoming. We will be able to see where we are at as a team in January and be able to make any necessary adjustments before the NJCAA Nationals. We are particularly excited about hosting the Region 18 Championships in February here at the College. It will be a great weekend for wrestling fans to come out and watch some outstanding competition.
In addition to the new faces, we have added two new coaches to the staff. Brett Born, formally of Lincoln HS in Portland, has joined the team and is already making an impact on our team. He is a solid technician, has great knowledge for the sport and has proven to be a great coach. We also added Rich Vigorito as Strength/Conditioning and assistant coach. Rich wrestled at Southern Oregon University and Pacific Lutheran. As a wrestler Rich won the Best of the West, Placed 4th at the Reno TOC and was a graduate assistant for the Raiders.
Possible starters for this season?
At this point it is hard to say who will start however the standouts so far are as follows.
125- Marty Eng, transfer from OSU, has looked very good as has Alex Panyasiri (Century HS).
133- 4x Idaho state champ Vance Beeson returns from a Red-Shirt year and has looked great so far however Kyle Wirkuty(Centennial HS) had great summer workouts and looks tougher than nails so far in the early goings.
141- One of the top wrestlers in the country, Derick Bartlemay, returns this year with All-American honors from last season. We look for great things from the Sprague HS standout this year as he works toward the highest step on the podium. Pushing Derick and standing out in the room so far has been Pasco HS star George Mendez.
149- Mike Beeson, 4x Idaho state placer and champ, returns from his Red-Shirt year looking tougher than ever. In addition to Mike, Jon Healy (Gonzaga Prep) has had some good workouts for us.
157- Stephan Gonzales, of Newberg HS (1995) has come back to the sport after training this summer and will push for the top spot on the team. In addition to Gonzales, Jace Lewis (Crook County) has been working very hard and improving greatly.
165- Fellow Newberg graduate Trent Conant, has been working very hard to be the top man at this weight class. Also, working for the top spot is Kris Spencer (Barlow HS).
174- Two wrestlers will compete for the start at this weight class in Red-Shirt Freshman TJ Callaway and true freshman Brandon Jackson (Pasco HS).
184- Sophomore Richard Jensen has come down from 197 last year to make a run at this weight class. His competitors in the room will be Caleb Kociemba (Hillsboro HS) and Ransom Portis (Newberg, HS).
197- We return national qualifier Jim Halicki and brought in Brandon Richardson (Heritage HS).
HWT- John Bates returns here after finishing third last year at the National Championships. He has trained very hard this off season and he will be one of the top heavies in the country
Wrestlers who could make an immediate impact?
Again it is hard to say until after we get to some competitions but we really like how these kids look: Alex Panyasiri, Kyle Wirkuty, George Mendez, Stephan Gonzales, Brandon Jackson and Nigel Bond. We have a tough group of kids who are excited about this year so it should be fun.
After last season’s success, will this year’s team be able to repeat that?
It is our coaching staff and team goal to best our success from last season in every area we can. We are working hard to create an environment that is conducive to success in wrestling and in school. We cannot have one without the other. Last year we had 6 Academic All-Americans and this year we want more! Last year we had 6 All-Americans and we hope to best that as well. I believe that we are putting the pieces together here to become a very good team and that should make this year very exciting!
The Cougars start out the season by heading to the Mike Clock Open at Pacific University in Forest Grove. They don't begin their homestand until Jan. 4th against Pacific University and wrestle Washington JC, Yakima Valley on Jan. 5th.