Stanford teams keep busy as the holidays get closer


By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

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.

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