Scouting Oregon State: Beavers face Tigers under new coach

Missouri will take on Oregon State, along with two others, at the North Dakota State Quadrangular.

The Beavers of Oregon State finished with an 8-6 record last season, an improvement on the previous season’s record of 5-8.

Nevertheless, the Beavers fired head coach Jim Zalesky, who coached the team for the 14 seasons. He was replaced by Chris Pendleton. Pendleton was previously an assistant at Arizona State, who are ranked No. 11 in the country.

With the hopes of a new coach and a returning core to bring the program back to national prominence, the Beavers will be looking to take down a Missouri team that is looking for its tenth consecutive conference title. The Maneater recently spoke to Orange Media Network’s Andres De Los Santos about the coming season and an insider’s perspective on the Oregon State team.

[This interview has been lightly edited for clarity purposes.]

The Maneater: Last season, OSU finished 8-6. What are some of the areas that you feel the team needed to improve upon?

Andres De Los Santos, OMN Sports wrestling writer: If you ask any wrestling team, they’re always gonna say that there’s got to be improvement in scoring points. Bonus points are huge. There’s been a lot of times where they’ve had opportunities to score, they haven’t taken them. They haven’t been capitalizing on different positions, so focusing more on getting bonus points.

TM: Which weight class do you feel that OSU will cause the most problems for Missouri?

ADLS: 133 [pounds] if Devan Turner, the starter from last year, if he starts. He had a 26-9 overall record last year, he was a PAC-12 champ at 133, he’s a two-time NCAA qualifier, and he was the No. 12 seed heading into the NCAA Tournament, which was canceled because of the pandemic. Right now, in the preseason rankings, he’s ranked No. 9 in the country, so he’s going to be a huge problem.

Another dark horse I would say is 141 [pounds] Grant Willits, he’s another guy to watch out for. Redshirt junior from Pueblo, Colorado, also a starter from last year. He had a 22-9 overall record, he was a PAC-12 runner-up in 2020 and the PAC-12 champ in 2019. He’s a two-time NCAA qualifier, and he upset No. 9 Josh Heil of Campbell last season. Those two weights definitely are gonna cause some problems for Missouri.

TM: Aside from those you already mentioned, what wrestlers, in particular, should Missouri be worried about?

ADLS: Lane Stigall, he actually wrestled at Missouri. He started at Missouri. Overall record of 32-13 as a redshirt freshman and a freshman. Last season was his first season with the Beavers. He went 17-16 and he finished fifth, which isn’t ideal, but you place in conference, that’s huge. He’ll be one to look out for too. He’s tall and lanky and flexible so he’s gonna be one to look out for.

I would also say Aaron Olmos at 165 [pounds], another guy to look out for. Another starter, 12-5 record overall. He placed fifth overall in conference as well, but he’s just a monster. A powerhouse, especially.

Colt Doyle, another runner-up, 184 last season, 174 right now, redshirt senior, another starter for OSU. He was a PAC-12 runner-up, 19-9 record.

So pretty much these guys placed high in conference and they’re coming back. Those are the ones to look out for, for sure.

TM: Oregon State has a new coach after they dismissed Jim Zalesky at the end of last season. How do you feel this will impact the team and what do you think that Chris Pendleton will bring as coach?

ADLS: Chris Pendleton is an amazing coach overall. He was previously at Arizona State, which is a powerhouse at wrestling. He was there previously and made the move to Oregon State. You know you’re a good coach when you have kids recruiting to your school and you haven’t even begun your coaching career at Oregon State yet.

Every time you talk to these wrestlers at Oregon State, they’re always going to say the same thing. “The coaches believe in us, we believe in the coaches,” and it’s true. I’ve talked to Pendleton, Nate Engel, another assistant coach for Oregon State, and they always say the same thing. “We preach hard work, dedication, commitment and these guys believe in us, and in turn, we believe in them.” So, it’s a mutual thing. They really do believe and trust each other, which is really good. You want that for a team, especially a young team.

I think these guys, both athletes and coaches, they trust each other enough. And for Chris Pendleton, he’s got some tricks up his sleeve, so I’m really excited to see what he does for this season.

TM: There are a good amount of freshmen on the team. How do you feel the new members will help the team?

ADLS: I think that the more freshmen you have, it’s good in a way because everyone graduates, and if they make their impacts now on the team, and if they really show they deserve to be on this team, it’s going to leave them well off.

For example, Devan Turner, redshirt senior, already next season, you’ve got to think about ‘OK, who’s gonna be 133? Who’s gonna be at this weight, this weight.’ And if you have freshmen that are proving their marks already, even if they’re redshirted, and they do well in these tournaments as unattached wrestlers, that shows the coaches “OK, these guys are serious. These guys are contenders. These guys know what they’re doing, maybe they might get the starting position.”

It’s gonna be tough at first, just because high school wrestling and college wrestling are two different ballfields. I would say that these freshmen, if they want to prove themselves, they’re gonna do it at these unattached tournaments.

TM: Statistically, the Beavers four winningest wrestlers from last season are returning. How big of an impact will Colt Doyle, Brandon Kaylor, Devan Turner and Grant Willits have on the team?

ADLS: They’re the four winningest wrestlers, but there’s so much more. I would throw Hunter Willits, Grant Willits’ brother, Aaron Olmos, obviously. Just having so many returners back is a really good thing because these guys already have that good chemistry and they know how to work with each other. They know what their strengths and weaknesses are. That only makes them better.

Knowing that your four winningest wrestlers are coming back, even as a coach, or from the outsider’s point of view. If you see that a program has its four winningest wrestlers coming back, that’s gonna be a lot of confidence for the team just because these guys know how to win, they know how to put points up, they know how to get team points and they’re going to go out there and dominate as they did last season.

Kinda like they’re picking up where they left off, especially because the tournament was canceled. I think that’s gonna be a real problem for Missouri.

TM: Prediction for Missouri vs. OSU?

ADLS: That’s a tough one. Overall, the Beavers are 1-2 against the Tigers, and the last time they met was Nov. 25, 2011, and they lost 21-18 which is really, really close. That’s a win, pretty much.

I’m really bad at predicting actual scores, so I’m just gonna say Oregon State’s gonna win, but it will be close. It’s gonna be a barn burner, I would say. It’s gonna be really tough and I’m confident that, like I said, they’re gonna pick up where they left off.

I think this is gonna be redemption, especially for individuals like Lane Stigall, going up against his old school. But just as a team, if you finish fourth in the PAC-12 conference and I believe finished third last season, that’s not a good feeling to have. So they’re gonna pick up where they left off, and I know that Chris Pendleton is gonna have high expectations for them.

So, I think the Beavers are going to win, but it’s not going to be a blowout. It’s gonna be really close.

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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