Friday, July 24, 2020

Still Alive, Still Fighting & Looking Forward to Being Reinstated: Their Best = Stanford

When I read the news that Stanford was dropping their wrestling program I could hardly believe it.  A storied program that predates World War II & has a rich history.  As a team the Cardinal have finished in the top twenty on six occasions, most of which have been within recent years.  Although they finished in third place twice & as runner ups twice prior, six of the Cardinal's top three PAC-12 finishes, including their 2019 PAC-12 championship have been under the tenure of head coach Jason Borrelli.  Which leads me to one of the many reasons why Stanford should refute their decision & reinstate Cardinal wrestling. 

Head Coach 
Jason Borrelli 

Stanford's vision statement reads, "Renew our commitment to Stanford's founding purpose to promote public welfare by exercising influence on behalf of humanity. Anchor our efforts in integrity, ethics, inclusion, and human welfare. Advance our mission as a research university to serve as a place of enlightenment and freedom of thought and expression."   

The key words here are integrity & inclusion.  

Stanford's mission statement reads, "
to extend the frontiers of knowledge, stimulate creativity, and solve real-world problems, prepare students to think broadly, deeply and critically, and to contribute to the world, and deploy Stanford's strengths to benefit our region, country, and world."

I think this one speaks for itself. 

When examining these two statements, it isn't difficult to see how the sport of wrestling not only coincides but enhances upon the very nature of the true meaning behind them.  The sport of wrestling is a teacher as is any professor or class. One that prepares our youth for tomorrow.  America needs wrestling, especially in the state of California.  If Stanford wants to stand behind, " benefit our region" then it needs to reinstate the Cardinal wrestling program.  The state of California produces an assortment of talented wrestlers & they need more places to wrestle, not less.   If Stanford wants to stand behind, " benefit our county" then Cardinal wrestling needs to be reinstated.  Many of our most decorated schools of prestigious academia no longer have wrestling programs, especially those on the west coast.  Our kids who want to wrestle while obtaining a top notch degree from one of the best Universities in the world, should not be denied that right.  

Head Coach Jason Borrelli while a competitive collegiate wrestler was not a superstar.  He's not Penn State's Cael Sanderson who went undefeated for the Iowa State Cyclones winning four NCAA championships.  He's not Oklahoma State's John Smith with World & Olympic Gold Medals.  He's not Iowa's Tom Brands with three NCAA titles & an Olympic Gold Medal.   He's a wrestler who never even made All American during his time at Central Michigan.  Yet over the past twelve seasons he has taken Stanford to heights that the wrestling community never dare dream.  He lead the Cardinal to five of their seven PAC-12 runner-up finishes & he lead the Cardinal to their one & only PAC-12 title.  He's showing the world that great coaching comes from the heart.  It comes from passion. It comes from being dedicated to your team, building a staff & trusting within them to make good decisions.  You should be celebrating that Stanford. You should be supporting that.  Don't take that away from him.  Reinstate Stanford Wrestling. 

How about the history of Stanford wrestling on an Individual level?  Let's explore that. 

Chris Horpel
150 lbs 

Former head coach Chris Horpel was a two time NCAA Division I All American for the Cardinal.  After placing fifth in 1973 he took seventh in 1974.  He graduated having accumulated 56 falls.  Post graduation he was an alternate on the 1976 Olympic team. 

Once his own wrestling career was over, Horpel coached at Palo-Alto High School.  You may have heard of two of his state champions.  Dave & Mark Schultz.   That's right, two Olympic Gold Medal winners, one of which is argued to have had the best senior season of any high school wrestler of any state ever.  His coach? A Stanford graduate. 

David Lee
167 lbs 

Competing for Bella Vista High School, David Lee made history when he became the first wrestler in California to win three state titles.  The number one recruit in the nation & he chose to start his collegiate career off at Stanford.  He won two PAC-12 titles for the Cardinal, earning All American honors in 1986.   He then transferred to Wisconsin where he won an NCAA title, along with three Midlands championships. 

Steve Buddie
167 lbs 

Steve Buddie took fourth place All American honors at the 1990 NCAA Division I championships his junior season.  As a senior in 1991 he won a PAC-12 title, along with earning All PAC-12 Academic honors.  Graduating with 109 victories he later took over as head coach of the Cardinal wrestling program. 

Tod Surmon

Tod Surmon had a standout season in 1996 winning a PAC-12 title & earning seventh place All American honors at the NCAA championships.  Post his collegiate career, Surmon looked to be a hopeful for the Olympic team in 2000.  After winning a Midlands championship, he went out celebrating in Las Vegas with some friends.  We sadly lost Surmon in a tragic accident.  

Rudy Ruiz 

Ruiz the Chairman of Beat The Streets in Baltimore, Maryland was a runner-up at the PAC-12 championships in 1992. 

Jeff Bradley
134 lbs 

Former Senior Vice President of AT&T Jeff Bradley won PAC-12 titles for the Cardinal in 1985 & 1986. 

Don Beuhler
191 lbs 

Beuhler won a PAC-12 title for the Cardinal in 1964.  His daughter Rachel later played soccer for the Cardinal. 

Vern Jones

The late Vern Jones came to Stanford all the way from Illinois where in 1942 he became Proviso High school's first state champion.  A Naval Aviator during World War II, Jones used his G.I. bill to attend Stanford & win the Cardinal Pacific Coast Conference titlse in 1946, 1948 & 1949. 

Ray Blake
165 lbs 

I spoke earlier in this blog of Jason Borelli & what his accomplishments mean not only to Stanford but to the wrestling world in general.  Assistant coach Ray Blake is no different.  This man is passion. He defines the term.  One day he'll head his own wrestling team & he'll turn heads with one success right after another.  A Stanford graduate, make note. 

Jim Wilson
165 lbs 

How about 2018 All American Jim Wilson?  The first Cardinal wrestler to win three PAC-12 titles.  Under the guidance of Coach Borrelli, Wilson won titles in 2014, 15' & 16'. 

Stanford's star should earn bachelor's and master's degrees and ...
Nick Amuchastegui
165, 174 lbs 

Walt Time director of engineering Nick Amuchastegui was one of the All time greats in Stanford wrestling.  A three time All American he made the NCAA Division I finals in 2011 & 2012. 

Steve Yarbrough
177 lbs 

Yarbrough a district attorney in New Mexico won a PAC-12 title in 1991. 

Zack Giesen
184 lbs 

A four time Oregon high school state champion, Giesen took sixth place All American honors at the 2011 NCAA Division I tournament.  Today he works in the Cardiology department of Dartmouth-Hitchcock hospital. 

Beau Weiner
157 lbs 

A graduate of Ponderosa High school, Weiner began his career at UC Davis but quickly transferred to Stanford.  Competing for the Cardinal he took seventh place All American honors at the 1999 NCAA championships.  He later coached at UC Davis & then became an attorney that specializes in Civil & Criminal cases. 

Matt Gentry
157 lbs 

Gentry is not only the Cardinal's first NCAA Champion but he was successful on the international scene as well.  Winning bronze medals at both the 2007 & 2011 PAN-American championships, Gentry was an Olympian in 2012. 

Tanner Gardner 
125 lbs 

The Shawnee Heights High School native (Kansas) put together a career record of 145-38 becoming the Cardinal's first three time All American.  He was eighth in 2006, seventh in 2007 & fifth in 2008. 

Nathan Peterson
125 lbs 

Peterson a professor of Anatomy & Physiology at North Texas was a three time PAC-12 Place-winner. 

Brad Metzler
141 lbs 

After winning four Nebraska High school state titles going 120-0 with 80 falls, Metzler was a well sought after recruit.  Choosing to compete for Stanford, he finished as the PAC-12 runner-up in 2004.  Today he is a successful chiropractor. 

Trust me I could easily go on with greats in Stanford Cardinal wrestling history.  I can think of ten more as I sit here and type this.    Within the history of Stanford wrestling I think my point is made, but I'll continue with one more statement.   Stanford has produced 50 individual conference champions & 116 conference finalists.  Under Coach Borrelli those number are only going to continue to rise. 

Let's look at the here and now.  Let's look at the future 

2020-2021 Stanford Cardinal Wrestling 

This is your lineup for Cardinal wrestling this season.  It's one of the best if not the best line-ups that Stanford has ever produced.  Not only is this team in serious contention to win the 2021 PAC-12 title but having their highest finish ever at the NCAA championships has an incredibly high probability.  

If that isn't enough, their is only one senior in this squad.  Four juniors, four sophomores & one freshman, the rest are underclassmen.  You're looking at the beginning of what could easily be a PAC-12 powerhouse.  We're talking Stanford doing in the PAC-12 what Iowa did & what Penn State is currently doing in the BIG 10.  What Oklahoma State is doing in the BIG 12.  Don't take that opportunity away from them. 

On an individual level, let's take a look. 

Jackson DiSario was runner-up this past season at 125 lbs.  He'll contend for a title. 

Real Woods was a PAC-12 champion this past season.  He's in serious contention to be a four time champion.  He'll make a run at an NCAA title too. 

Jaden Abas is the son of three time NCAA runner-up Gerry Abas & the nephew of three time NCAA champion Stephen Abas.  After watching him annihilate the competition to win a Southern Scuffle title this past season, no doubt he'll make an immediate impact. 

Require Van de Merwe was a PAC-12 champion in 2019 & a runner-up this past season.  He'll contend for another title this year as well as All American status. 

Tyler Eischens was a PAC-12 Runner-up this past season. 

Shane Griffith was a PAC-12 Champ too & he did so by denying another wrestler his fourth title.  Griffith will contend for a high placement at the NCAA championships.  He's likely to be a four time PAC-12 champ.  Don't take that plausible honor away from him. 

Dom Mandarino has sat behind some great in room competition, but he'll contend for the PAC-12 title this season if varsity. 

Duhm was a PAC-12 runner-up in 2019.

Nathan Traxler has placed top three in three consecutive PAC-12 championships. He'll earn his fourth this season. 

Haydn Maley was runner-up in 2019. 

I have more than made my case for the history, the tradition & more importantly the future of Stanford Cardinal wrestling.  

A University experience is about opening up doors & allowing one through hard work & dedication to pursue goals.  Don't close those doors.  Keep those doors open.  Reinstate Stanford Cardinal wrestling.  


  1. Thanks for the great article! We are excited for the future of this talented team! One note - Tyler Eischens was the Pac-12 Runner Up, not the Champ, but still an NCAA Qualifier. He was a USA Greco World Team Member in 2019.

  2. It's worth mentioning that the only reason I transferred to Wisconsin was because the Athletic Department fired Dave Schultz (Assistant Coach) my sophomore year. Their reason being to save his $10,000 annual salary to help their budget. He was already considered the best wrestling technique coach in the history of the sport. I just told him "pick the school you want, I'll go with you".

    Dave Lee

    1. Thanks for the insight Dave. I appreciate it. It's always fun to know the reasoning behind the story. Thanks for the read! May Cardinal wrestling not only exist but thrive in the
      years to come!