A Look Back

STANFORD, Calif. - The Stanford wrestling team celebrated the 2018-19 season at its annual awards banquet on Saturday night. The Cardinal recognized numerous wrestlers with team awards and bid farewell to its seniors, Nainoa Calvo, Walker Dempsey, Austin Flores, Paul Fox, Mason Pengilly, Brian Rossi an Rico Stormer, who gave memorable speeches during the event.

Under the direction of 11th-year head coach Jason Borrelli, Stanford won the first Pac-12 team championship in school history in March, knocking off two-time defending champion and host Arizona State in the closest team race since 2010. Stanford crowned two individual Pac-12 champions and sent five wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh.

Requir van der Merwe (149) and Nathan Traxler (197) captured individual Pac-12 titles (the 31st and 32nd in program history) to receive automatic berths to the national tournament. Haydn Maley (285) and Gabriel Townsell (125) also earned automatic berths at the conference championships, placing second and third, respectively, while Mason Pengilly (133) received an at-large bid.

The Cardinal finished the 2018-19 campaign 9-4 overall and 3-1 in Pac-12 duals. The Cardinal defeated four ranked teams during the season, including the program's first win over Oregon State in Corvallis. The win also marked the 106th career victory for Borrelli, moving him past Chris Horpel to become the winningest coach in school history.

Traxler, a native of St. Charles, Illinois, took home the Vern Jones Most Outstanding Wrestler and Outstanding Scholar-Athlete awards. The redshirt sophomore is the first Cardinal reach the 30-win plateau since 2016-17, leading the team at 30-7 overall and 12-1 in duals, and he was twice named the Pac-12 Wrestler of the Week. The runner-up at the Princeton Open and Southern Scuffle, Traxler was the only Cardinal to place at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite (4th) and reached the Round of 12 at the NCAA Championships. A team captain and two-time Pac-12 All-Academic first team pick, he is a computer science major with a 3.55 GPA.

van der Merwe, who hails from Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, took home this year's Most Improved award. The Pac-12 champion was 24-8 overall and 10-1 in duals this season. His 24 wins were the second-most on the team and he now boasts a career record of 33-11. van der Merwe was the runner-up at the Princeton Open and took fourth at the Southern Scuffle. His 10-match winning streak from Jan. 12-March 9 was the longest on the team this season (not including redshirts). He was also a Pac-12 All-Academic second team selection.

In addition to Traxler, Pengilly and Townsell were also awarded the Outstanding Scholar-Athlete honor. A two-time Pac-12 All-Academic pick, Pengilly graduated with a degree in political science and will attend law school in the fall. The team captain was 15-7 and 8-1 in duals in his final season on The Farm. The runner-up at the Pac-12 Championships, Pengilly advanced to the Round of 12 at the NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh. Townsell is also a political science major and a two-time Pac-12 All-Academic honoree. The junior from Oak Park, Illinois, was 19-12 overall and qualified for the NCAA Championships for the third straight season. He was third at the Pac-12 Championships (March 9), fifth at the Princeton Open (Nov. 4) and eighth at the Southern Scuffle (Jan. 2). His last-second win over Arizona State's Brandon Courtney sealed the Cardinal's dual win over Sun Devils and earned Townsell his second career Pac-12 Wrestler of the Week recognition.

Maley, a redshirt freshman, secured Newcomer of the Year honors. The Roseburg, Oregon, native was 23-12 overall at heavyweight. An NCAA qualifier, he won the Princeton Open (Nov. 4), placed fourth at the Roadrunner Open (Nov. 18) and seventh at the Southern Scuffle (Jan. 2). He was also the runner-up at the Pac-12 Championships, winning a true-second place match to secure the automatic bid to NCAAs.

The Chris Horpel Coaches Award, given to the individual(s) that made significant contributions to the well-being of the team in terms of attitude, improvement or special leadership, was presented to Rossi, Fox and redshirt sophomore Jared Hill. Rossi returned to the mat for the first time in over a year after dealing with injuries to wrestle against Utah Valley (Jan. 12). He was also in the lineup on Senior Day against Cal Poly (Feb. 17), securing the win. Fox, a team captain, split time at 157 and 165 pounds throughout the year. At 157 pounds, he won the Reno Tournament of Champions (Dec. 20), was the runner-up at the Roadrunner Open Nov. 18) and took fifth at the Southern Scuffle (Jan. 2). Hill also wrestled at multiple weights this season, ultimately competing at 165 pounds at the Pac-12 Championships. Hill placed third for the second straight year, pinning his opponent to score bonus points for the team.

Stormer was the recipient of the BAGUBA Award, given to the individual that best exemplifies what the coaches look for in a Stanford wrestler. Stormer was a graduate transfer from Harvard who came to The Farm with a 13-25 record. In just one season with the Cardinal, Stormer was 18-14, including 8-5 in duals. The Circle, Montana, native was the runner-up at the Roadrunner Open (Nov. 18) and fourth at the Pac-12 Championships (March 9). His win over Oregon State's Colt Doyle (Feb. 15) helped secure the dual win and earned him Pac-12 Wrestler of the Week honors.

Six wrestlers were recognized with the Tod Surmon Award for their outstanding performance at a home dual this season. The winners were as follows: Stormer (SF State), Pengilly (Utah Valley), Brandon Kier (Harvard), Flores (Cal Baptist), Townsell (Arizona State) and Rossi (Cal Poly).

Stanford wrestlers continued to excel in the classroom this year, ranking fourth nationally on the NWCA Scholar All-Academic Team top 30. Five Cardinal were named NWCA Scholar All-Americans - Fox, Dominick Mandarino, ,Pengilly, Townsell and Traxler. Stanford again led the conference with nine wrestlers earning Pac-12 All-Academic honors, including Fox being named the scholar-athlete of the year. Flores, Fox, Kier and Traxler were selected to the first team for the second times in their careers.