sheila sobchik

The Mustang wrestling team is currently going through the toughest part of its 2006 schedule having just returned from Oklahoma. Cal Poly was dominated by the defending national champions, Oklahoma State, and lost to Oklahoma, both by the score of 38-6.

Things will not get easier for Cal Poly this weekend as the defending Pac-10 champion, Arizona State, visits Mott Gym in a battle between the highest ranked teams in the conference. Still without the services of All-American candidates, Chad Mendes (125) and Matt Monteiro (197), it will be a tall order to knock off the Sun Devils.

Cal Poly currently is 7-4 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-10. The Mustangs are currently ranked No. 2 as a team in the Pac-10 behind No. 1 Arizona State.

At 133, the Mustangs have Darrell Vasquez. Vasquez sat out 2005 due to injury, but has come back in the 2005-06 season and immediately made an impact in Cal Poly wrestling competing in the NWCA All Star Classic, as well as defeating No. 2 ranked Mack Reiter of Minnesota, 6-3. He finished third in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational losing only to defending Pac-10 champion Scott Jorgenson of Boise State, in a match that could have gone either way, 6-5.

Vasquez avenged that loss, defeating Jorgenson Jan. 14. Jorgenson stopped the match due to injury, but Vasquez had already acquired a 6-2 lead one minute into the match. He currently holds a 14-2 record and is ranked fourth in the country according to the W.I.N. rankings.

At 149, the Mustangs bring Jeff Owens. Owens is off to the best start in his Cal Poly career, enjoying a 16-5 start. He took second in the Fullerton Open, losing only to Pac-10 foe Anthony Baza of Cal State Bakersfield in a down-to-the-wire, 6-3 final. Owens competed in the Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational, collecting two wins. Owens stood out on the Mustangs’ first major road trip test collecting two much needed wins over Ryan Davis of Nebraska (10-4) and Jason Knipp of Iowa State (6-2). He is currently ranked No. 3 in the Pac-10 conference.

At 184, Ryan Halsey, the former Pac-10 champion, has competed in the Fullerton Open, where he won first place at 184 pounds pinning two opponents in the process. He defeated Tyler Bernachi of UC Davis, 3-0 in the championship round. Halsey is ranked No. 4 in Pac-10 and is currently 15-6 on the season.

Arizona State comes into this weekend boasting a 9-6 overall record as well as unbeaten Pac-10 record of 4-0.

The Sun Devils, like the Mustangs, have gone through a tough schedule and turned some heads in the process, scoring near wins over powerhouse teams like Iowa State and Minnesota.

Arizona State is led by Jeremy Mendoza (125) who is a staggering 26-2 on the season and 14-1 in dual matches. With the injury to Mendes, Mustangs fans will have to wait until the Pac-10 championships to watch these two talented wrestlers square off. Mendoza is currently ranked No. 7 in the country as well as No. 1 in the Pac-10.

Also leading the Sun Devils is defending Pac-10 heavy weight champion, Cain Velasquez. In 2005, he earned his first All-American honor by placing fifth at the 2005 NCAA Championships and was named 2005 Pac-10 Conference Wrestler of the Year. At one point, he won 21 matches in a row before falling in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships. He currently sits with a 24-5 record in 2006 and has a No. 4 ranking nationally, as well as the No. 1 ranking in the Pac-10.

The talented line up the Sun Devils bring to San Luis Obispo could also include Ryan Bader (197) with an 18-3 record, Brian Smith (157) with a 17-2 and Pat Payne (149) with a 13-8 record. All three are currently ranked in the top 15 nationally and No.1 in the Pac-10.

Arizona State currently holds a 26-10 advantage over Cal Poly lifetime, with their last victory coming in 2005, with the Sun Devils topping the Mustangs in Tempe, 33-9.

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