This is the team the Oregon State wrestlers expected to be at the start of the season.
There were a few bumps in the road, but the No. 9 Beavers are on a win streak of five dual meets.
Four of those were on the road and all were ranked teams. The Beavers defeated No. 25 Air Force, No. 15 Wyoming, No. 14 Lehigh and No. 7 Cornell.
“I think guys are starting to find out how good we really are,” said 197-pounder Taylor Meeks. “We’re coming together as a team.”
The Beavers had their struggles earlier this season, losing to Michigan and Boise State in Corvallis.
They needed to change their approach.
The Beavers knew they had to go on the attack and keep pressure on their opponents throughout each match.
“A lot of people are opening up stuff,” Meeks said. “They’re figuring out that offense is the way to go. A lot more aggressive.”
When the younger wrestlers caught on to the approach, the wins started piling up for the Beavers.
“A lot of our younger guys have come on and started realizing that how you have to win at this level is you have to be more aggressive,” heavyweight Chad Hanke said.
“That’s why we train so hard, because it takes a lot of hard work to wrestle at that kind of level. That’s definitely why I think we’re starting to find our stride right now is
because those guys are putting in the time and they’re being offensive on the mat.”
The Beavers are looking to extend the streak to six against Cal State Bakersfield at 7 tonight in Gill Coliseum.
Cal State Bakersfield is strong at the lighter weights, with No. 23 Tyler Iwamura at 125 and No. 21 Ian Nickell at 133.
A strong performance by OSU’s Joey Palmer and Drew Van Anrooy at those weights would give the Beavers a significant advantage with No. 4 Mike Mangrum at 141, No. 9 Scott Sakaguchi at 149 and No. 10 RJ Pena at 157.
“That is big, starting off strong and finishing strong,” Meeks said. “We definitely need those lighter weights to be prepared and ready to go.”
The Roadrunners also have 19th-ranked Bryce Hammond at 174, but the Beavers counter with a solid group at the heavier weights. Ty Vinson is ranked 18th at 184, Meeks is No. 7 at 197 and Hanke is the No. 4 heavyweight.
“As far as keeping the streak going, I think that’s huge for us and for the fans,” Hanke said. “We didn’t start off on the right foot and now we’re finding our stride and I think it’s really showing the improvement of our team.”