Joey Delgado has seen his team struggle this season but knew it had the potential to be better than it has shown.
The Oregon State senior saw that potential Monday, as the Beavers got two upset wins on its way to an 18-15 victory against visiting Stanford in a Pac-12 wrestling dual at Gill Coliseum.
OSU’s Cody Crawford finished it off with a 3-1 overtime victory against Nathan Butler, the ninth-ranked heavyweight in the country.
“There’s a lot of ups and downs every day. We’ve been making sure we’re refocusing and listening to our coaches and having faith in our process here at Oregon State,” said Delgado, a 149-pound senior. “It’s nice to see our hard work start to pay off. Just going to continue to press forward and make sure our highs aren’t too high and our lows aren’t too low.”
The Beavers (3-6) competed at home for the first time in two months.
OSU had lost three straight lopsided duals in the previous two weeks and hit a wall last weekend, coach Jim Zalesky said, while being outscored 66-11 in two duals.
Monday saw the addition of midseason transfer Seth McLeod, whose insertion into lineup allowed Weston Dobler and Bob Coleman to each move down a weight to 174 and 184, respectively. Dobler was competing at 174 for the first time this season.
Coleman, McLeod and Corey Griego (197) got wins to set up the finale at heavyweight. Griego and Crawford are both wrestling up a weight from last season to fill the hole left by All-American heavyweight Amarveer Dhesi, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
“I think they’re getting used to it,” Zalesky said. “Wins like that help them. Crawford is up to about 245, 250. Griego’s got his weight up. It’s getting those wins and wrestling like I know they can for down the road.”
Oregon State’s win Monday came against the team Zalesky said last week is the team to beat. The Beavers will enter the Pac-12 championships Feb. 26 at Stanford as the five-time defending champions.
“I think we have a good block to build from,” said OSU senior Joey Palmer, who got an upset win at 133. “I feel like we’ve got a good foundation and we can get ready and go into Pac-12s.”
Kegan Calkins got the Beavers off to a good start with a 5-2 decision versus Brian Rossi at 125.
Calkins evened the match with two escapes, the last to open the second round, and he took down Rossi later in the second to go ahead.
Calkins (8-12) rode out Rossi from the top position in the third to earn the victory.
OSU’s Joey Palmer kept the momentum going at 133, squeezing out a 2-1 decision against 13th-ranked Connor Schram for a 6-0 Beavers lead.
Palmer (18-5) tied the match at 1-all with an escape early in the third period and went ahead on a stalling violation called on Schram with 90 seconds left in the match.
Schram was last year’s Pac-12 champion at 125. Palmer was second at 133. Both advanced to the NCAA tournament.
At 141, Stanford’s Joey McKenna improved his season record to 23-1 with a 5-1 win against Jack Hathaway (12-9).
Delgado, the only Beaver ranked in all three major polls, got those three team points back for the Beavers with a 5-0 win versus Tommy Pawelski.
Delgado (13-6) worked a takedown early in the match, earned an escape in the second and was awarded a stalling point in the third, in addition to a point for riding time.
At 157, OSU’s Abraham Rodriguez gained some traction against Paul Fox late in the match but couldn’t close the gap completely in a 7-4 loss.
Stanford’s Keaton Subjeck backed up his No. 18 ranking at 165 with a first-round pin of Weston Dobler (8-16) to give the Cardinal its first lead of the night at 12-9.
At 174, Oregon State’s Bob Coleman (4-15) got only two escape points in his 6-2 loss to Pater Galli, another ranked competitor.
McLeod took an early lead on Zach Nevills at 184 on his way to a 9-2 decision as the Beavers closed to within 15-12.
McLeod (5-3) created a cushion for himself in the second round with a reversal followed by a nearfall to lead 6-1.
Griego got Oregon State back to even in the team points with a 9-5 win against Josh Marchok at 197.
Griego (17-8) got an early third-period takedown to lead 6-3 and held off Marchok.
Crawford evened his match 1-all with an escape early in the third period and then was the aggressor in the one-minute extra period, working his way behind Butler for the victory to clinch the match.
The Beavers got the win without arguably their best two wrestlers.
Dhesi was a Pac-12 champion and NCAA All-American last season. He also missed the season two years ago due to a knee injury.
Junior Ronnie Bresser, a two-time NCAA qualifier and conference champion two years ago at 125, saw Dhesi go down and decided it would be best for the team’s future if he redshirted as well.
Bresser and Dhesi each have two more seasons of eligibility.
Bresser is 7-2 overall in two tournaments this season, including a 5-0 mark to win the Reno Tournament of Champions in mid-December.
Outside of Bresser and Dhesi, the Beavers have five wrestlers who have reached the NCAA tournament. All five were in the lineup Monday, each competing with a season win percentage of 60 percent or better. The other five in OSU’s lineup entered with a combined record of 20-53.