sheila sobchik

Cal Poly wrestling finished second at the Pac-10 championships for the second time in three years as defending champion Arizona State successfully defended the title, despite the Mustangs’ Chad Mendes winning the Pac-10 championship at 125 pounds. The Mustangs led the tournament into the final session, but the Sun Devils overtook Cal Poly late in the championship round.

Cal Poly will send seven wrestlers to the national championships held in Oklahoma City from March 16-18.

Mendes (125) won his first Pac-10 championship, knocking off No. 3 seed, Tanner Gardiner, 7-4. Mendes scored two takedowns in the opening period and never relinquished the lead. Mendes has had Gardiner’s number this season, defeating him for the third time this season; he also defeating the Cardinal in the Fullerton Open for first place and the Las Vegas Invitational for third place.

For the Mustangs it is the second year in a row the conference champion at 125 resides in San Luis Obispo as, last year’s champion was Vic Moreno. Mendes goes into the national championships carrying a 17-2 overall record.

Matt Monteiro (197) rolled through his first three matches in the tournament without much resistance, but in the championship round he faced Ryan Bader, who controlled the low-scoring match, defeating Monteiro 3-0. Bader has beaten Monteiro six times dating back to Monteiro’s days at Cal State Bakersfield and has accounted for two of Monteiro’s losses on his 19-4 record.

David Roberts’ (141) bid at a Pac-10 championship came up short as he ran into No. 9 nationally ranked Derek Moore of UC Davis. Roberts showed no sign of quitting as he was the aggressor for much of the match. However, Moore was able to answer every offensive effort Roberts had with one of his own, winning 8-1. The second-place finish marks the second year in a row a Mustang has finished second at 141 pounds, as Steve Esparza was runner-up in 2005. Roberts heads into the national championships with a 16-5 overall record.

Darrell Vasquez (133) was able to salvage an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships by capturing third place at 133 pounds for the Mustangs. Vasquez rebounded from a narrow 5-3 loss to two-time conference defending champion and eventual 2006 conference champion; Scott Jorgenson, on Sunday defeated Bobby Pfennings of Oregon State, 8-3 and No. 6 seed Omar Gaitan of UC Davis, 8-3, on his way to third place. Vasquez will go into nationals with an overall record of 20-3.

At 149, Jeff Owens righted a wrong from 2005 when he did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships by capturing third place in 2006. Owens defeated No. 4 seed Pat Payne of Arizona State for the opportunity to wrestle for third place. Owens scored a takedown midway through the second period to take a lead he would not relinquish. Owens cemented his victory by hitting Payne with a reversal, to give the senior a hard-fought, 4-2 victory.

The Nipomo native then defeated No. 5 seed Morgan Atkinson of Cal State Fullerton, 5-4, ensuring he would be heading to the state of Oklahoma to compete in the national championships. Owens heads into the NCAAs with a 22-7 overall record.

Ryan Williams (157) shook off an early loss to No. 4 seed Scott Loescher of Stanford to win by pinfall in the fifth-place match over Daniel Atondo of Cal State Bakersfield. With the fifth-place finish, Williams finishes the season with a 13-16 overall record.

Robb Maxwell (165) began the tournament by embarrassing the No. 1 seed at 165 pounds, winning by major decision, 19-7. Maxwell could not capitalize off the biggest win of his 2006 season however, as he went on to lose the next three matches in a row, including a loss to Johnny Nunez of Boise State, 6-4,and No. 1 seed Joey Bracamonte, 6-3, to finish in sixth place. Maxwell finishes the season with an overall record of 16-15.

Nick Hernandez (174) was seconds away from going into sudden-victory overtime, but Christian Arellano of Cal State Bakersfield scored a takedown as time expired to steal a 6-4 victory from Hernandez. With the loss, Hernandez finishes fourth in the Pac-10 with an overall record of 16-8. Hernandez has received a at-large bid to the NCAA championships.

Ryan Halsey (184) ended a somewhat disappointing Pac-10 tournament with a fifth-place finish, defeating K.C. Walsh of Boise State, 4-1.

Earlier in the day Halsey suffered an 8-5 loss to No. 4 seed Tyler Bernacchi of UC Davis, as Halsey led the entire match only to suffer a takedown, followed by a two-point nearfall with seconds remaining. With the fifth-place finish Halsey improves his record to 22-6 overall. Due to his stellar regular season, Halsey also has received an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.

It took Arturo Basulto (285) four overtimes to capture fifth place in the Pac-10, but with an escape, followed by a reversal, Basulto was able to take a 5-2 lead over Oregon’s Chris Dearmon. Earlier in the day Basulto suffered a 6-3 loss to No. 3 seed Eric Parker. With the fifth-place finish Basulto improves to 20-14 overall in 2006.

Mendes, Vasquez, Roberts, Owens, Hernandez, Halsey and Monteiro will compete at the national championships held in Oklahoma City, starting March 16 and running through the 18th.

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