Beavers crown three Pac-12 champions
CORVALLIS — Corey Griego admitted it was “weird” taking the mat against someone he had competed with and against most of his life.
But that was the spot the Oregon State junior and Cal State Bakersfield senior Matt Williams were in Sunday night during the Pac-12 wrestling finals at Gill Coliseum.
Their spots on the NCAA tournament bracket secured, the former prep teammates could go at each other as they did back at Sultana High in Apple Valley, California, and even before that.
Griego got the better of his longtime friend Sunday, using a reversal and four-point nearfall in the second round to take an 11-5 win in the 197-pound final.
Wins by Griego, Ronnie Bresser (125) and Amar Dhesi (285) and Hunter Willits’ runner-up finish at 157 helped the Beavers to second place in the five-team, one-day tournament. Arizona State repeated as champion with 96 points. OSU had 70.
“He beat the heck out of me, just pummeled me,” Griego said of competing with Williams as a youngster in practices led by Matt’s father Tedd. “In middle school he beat me pretty good and then it started to get more even.”
Williams is a year older and was always a weight class heavier than Griego until they got to college.
Griego, who claimed his second straight conference title at 197, has gotten the upper hand since he and Williams put on collegiate level singlets. Griego has won four out of five, with a 2017 NCAA consolation match being the exception.
At 125, Bresser got a 3-2 decision against Arizona State’s Ryan Millhof, with the winning point being awarded for riding time.
Bresser, claiming his second conference crown, avenged a 9-4 loss to Millhof at ASU five weeks earlier.
“I kind of look at it, everyone has their on day, everyone has their off day,” Bresser said. “Today I was on. Last time he was on. It’s just a battle.”
A wrestler receives a bonus point for riding time when he finishes the match with an advantage of one minute or more.
Bresser (21-4) rode Millhof for more than 1 minute, 40 seconds of the two-minute second period. The two started in a neutral position in round three and neither was able to gain an advantage.
“I know the kid’s kind of funky, I know he likes to roll around,” Bresser said. “I just had to put a hard ride on him and keep the pressure on and it worked out.”
OSU true freshman Hunter Willits (18-14) took a 10-2 loss to Arizona State’s Joshua Shields in the 157 final.
But he guaranteed himself a spot in the NCAA tournament with a 6-5 semifinal win against Stanford’s Paul Fox. Fox had defeated Willits 5-2 in a dual meet two weeks earlier.
Dhesi dominated Stanford’s Nathan Butler in the last final of the evening, with a fast start leading to an 11-2 major decision.
Dhesi is now a three-time NCAA qualifier along with Bresser and Griego.
Oregon State had all 10 of its wrestlers reach the semifinals. Six got there with a bye in the quarterfinals. All 10 were still wrestling in the final session, with six competing for third place.