Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 17, 2010

Cardinal teams are busy as the holiday near

Wrestling remains at home while women's basketball remains on the road with a crucial game at Tennessee on Sunday

by Rick Eymer

There are three Stanford athletic teams in action this weekend and they are all over the map, literally. If you would kindly take a peek at a map of the United States, you're just as likely to find a Cardinal wandering the streets of Indianapolis as you would in Reno or Knoxville, Tenn.

The Cardinal (2-5) wrestling team plans a short stay on campus to host Chattanooga (4-5) at 6:30 p.m. Friday in comfy Burnham Pavilion before navigating the roads to Nevada for the Reno Tournament of Champions on Sunday.

Stanford men's basketball team plays at Butler on Saturday morning and the Cardinal women's basketball team takes on Tennessee on Sunday night.

Junior All-American Nick Amuchastegui and sophomore Ryan Mango each went undefeated at the Northeast Duals two weeks ago for the Stanford wrestlers.

Amuchastegui, wrestling at 184 pounds this year, won the Pac-10 title at 165 pounds last year and finished fourth in the NCAA championships. He owns a career 43-4 dual meet record.

Amuchastegui placed second in his weight division in last year's Reno tournament. Senior Zach Giesen, who has 91 career wins, is the defending 184-pound champion in Reno.

Mango holds down the spot at 125 pounds. He won three of five matches in Reno last year.

All three wrestlers competed at last year's NCAA championships. Also in Albany, senior Lucas Espericueta recorded a 4-3 upset victory over eighth-ranked Scott Winston of Rutgers.

Giesen, Amuchastegui and Mango are among the top-10 in their weight classes. Amuchastegui ranks fourth at 174 pounds while Giesen (197) and Mango (125) are ranked 10th.

Mocs' All-American Cody Cleveland returns to the lineup this weekend. The senior, who has won the two matches in which he's competed this year, is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation at 141 pounds.

Chattanooga sophomores Josh Condon (157) and Prescott Garner (125) are tied for the most wins on the team with 10.

The Amuchastegui brothers, Nick and Luke, are familiar with Garner, an Oregon state champion while at West Linn High. Garner is a native of nearby Mountain View.

Women's basketball

By an interesting quirk of the schedule, and Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer's remarkable legacy of success, the current road trip has any number of interesting story lines.

The third-ranked Cardinal (6-0 entering Thursday night's game at 22nd-ranked DePaul) could enter Sunday's game against the Lady Vols with its own 800-win coach. That's anything but a sure thing, though, as the Blue Demons won 12 of their first 13 games.

Even if VanDerveer remains at 799, there are still only four women's coaches who have recorded more wins and one of them is Tennessee's Pat Summitt. Former Texas coach Judy Conradt, Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer and North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell are also in front of VanDerveer.

Stanford has not fared well against the Lady Vols, whom it began playing during the 1988-89 season. Sixth-ranked Tennessee (9-1) owns a 21-6 record against the Cardinal, which includes an 11-game winning streak during one stretch.

It gets worse. Stanford has one win in 11 trips through Knoxville and that occurred Dec. 15, 1996, an 82-56 victory.

The Cardinal won last year's meeting in Maples Pavilion, 67-52, and Summit was none too happy about her team. She will likely remind them of that loss.

VanDerveer is fond of 'blaming' Stanford grad Jennifer Azzi for scheduling Tennessee in the first place. Azzi, who led the Cardinal to the first of its two national titles, is a native of Oak Ridge, Tenn., and VanDerveer likes to schedule a game in a player's hometown during their tenure on The Farm. This one stuck.

After meeting Tennessee, Stanford finishes its road trip in San Francisco against the Lady Dons on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Azzi is in her first year as USF's coach.

The Lady Dons (2-8) have a game Monday before hosting Stanford in their annual "Pack The House" Challenge.

By the way, Sarah Boothe and Toni Kokenis are from the Chicago area, thus the series with DePaul.

Football

A highly successful season just keeps getting better for the Stanford football team, which on Tuesday had two players honored on the Associated Press All-America team.

Stanford center Chase Beeler was named a first-team All-American by AP while quarterback Andrew Luck earned second-team honors.

Beeler is the first Stanford offensive lineman to earn first-team AP All-America honors since Eric Heitmann in 2001. Beeler also was named a first- team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and was a second-team Walter Camp Football Foundation selection.

Luck, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, was named to the second team behind Auburn signal caller and Heisman winner Cam Newton.

With the selection of Beeler and Luck, Stanford has produced four AP All-Americans over the past two seasons. In 2009, Toby Gerhart earned first- team honors while Chris Marinelli was named to the second team.

Women's volleyball

Alix Klineman, Cassidy Lichtman and Gabi Ailes wanted to be playing one more week of volleyball. Their season, however, was cut short when Stanford was eliminated in the Dayton Region final this past weekend — thus ending the college careers of the Cardinal senior trio.

Despite that disappointment, the three seniors nonetheless have been honored for their standout seasons by being named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America team on Wednesday. Klineman and Lichtman earned first-team honors while Ailes was named to the third team.

The selections bring Stanford's total AVCA All-America award count to 66 honors spread over 26 players. This marks the fourth All-America honor for Klineman, while Ailes and Lichtman are being recognized for the second time in their careers. It marks the sixth consecutive year the Cardinal has boasted more than one All-American in the same season.

Klineman is the 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year. With 89 kills in four NCAA Tournament matches, the outside hitter became the sixth player in Pac-10 history and just the second in school history to record 2,000 career kills. She finishes her career fifth all-time in Pac-10 history with 2,008 kills. Earlier this season she became the eighth Stanford player to register both 1,000 career kills and digs. Klineman led the Pac-10 in kills (5.55) and points per set (6.25), while also ranking second in the nation in both categories. Her 605 kills this season and her .372 hitting percentage are both career highs.

As a setter/hitter, Lichtman led the team with 18 double-doubles, including four triple-doubles. A key all-around player, she is averaged 2.28 kills, 7.92 assists and 2.48 digs per set this season. Her 2,366 career assists ranks eighth-best in Stanford history. Lichtman earned Pac-10 Player of the Week twice this season for her efforts against the Los Angeles and Arizona schools in November. She finished with a double-double in three of the team's four NCAA Tournament matches.

Ailes, a libero, broke every Stanford digs record during her time on The Farm. The career leader with 2,147, Ailes is just the seventh Pac-10 player to record over 2,000 digs and finishes her career fourth all-time in the history of the conference. She averaged 4.64 digs per set this season, upping that mark to 5.23 digs per set in conference play, and recorded double-digit digs in 30 of the team's 31 matches this season.

The Pac-10 totaled five first team selections, the most by any conference. Joining Klineman and Lichtman on the first team were California's Carli Lloyd and Tarah Murrey and USC's Alex Jupiter. In total, 12 players from the conference earned AVCA All-America honors in 2010.

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