Oaks Wrestling Finishes Strong

ATHERTON, CA � Accomplishing one of their most outstanding campaigns in the program's seven years of existence, the Menlo College men's wrestling team finished the 2007-08 season with two NAIA National Champions, four All-Americans and two Daktronics Scholar Athletes.

Menlo took 7th place as a team at the national tournament after entering the championship ranked tied for 13th. This is the fifth time in seven years that the Oaks have had a Top 10 finish at the tournament. The All-Americans consist of the top six�participants in each weight class at the national championship tournament. Two-time National Champion Lindenwood finished with six All-Americans, and Menlo wrestled competitively finishing with four All-Americans.

Head Coach Keith Spataro initiated the men's wrestling program in 2001 and has seen the team improve each year.

“The success of something is contingent upon the players involved,” said Spataro, “and we have had some great student athletes and assistant coaches come through this program.”

Competing at 165 pounds in his third national appearance, junior Robert Davis clinched his first national title with a 10-3 decision over Dickenson State University's Stanton Schlecht. Davis was ranked third in the NAIA national standings entering the national tournament, and Schlecht finished the season ranked second.

Davis attributes his success this year to a change of lifestyle.

“I decided that I wanted to be All-American this year, so I started eating right, working out more, and staying focused on succeeding,” said Davis.

Heavyweight Jesse Ruiz, in his first NAIA national appearance, had little trouble winning his weight class, with his closest match being a 10-3 decision in the finals. Ruiz had three consecutive pins after opening with a 17-4 major decision in the first round.

In addition to the contributions Davis and Ruiz, Menlo enjoyed a fifth-place finish by 125-pounder Jose Hernandez and a sixth place finish by junior Lee Morrison in the 157 bracket.

Menlo has accumulated six individual national championships. The Oaks made an immediate impact at the national level with James Guizar winning the 141-pound title in the program's first year. Saul Lucatero, at 149 pounds, earned the Oaks' second title the following year. After red-shirting in 2002-03, Guizar reclaimed his title the next season. In 2006, Joe Garcia captured the 141-pound title in an exciting 3-2 decision over then No. 1 ranked University of the Cumberland's Brad Cooper.

The Oaks took third at an extremely competitive NAIA West Regional, capturing two titles (Ruiz, Davis) and two runner-up finishes, Jose Hernandez at 125 and Lee Morrison at 157. Five teams from the West Region finished in the Top 11 at the National Tournament.

In their extremely competitive schedule, Menlo defeated then NAIA No. 1 ranked Campbellsville University and NCAA Division 1 Portland State while having strong showings against NCAA D1 schools Stanford, Cal State Bakersfield, and Cal State Fullerton.

Menlo also produced in the classroom with two wrestlers earning Daktronics Scholar Athlete honors for maintaining a minimum cumulative grade point average of a 3.5 or above. Senior Mike Jeffery earned his second Scholar Athlete honor with a 3.65 GPA in his 3.5 years at Menlo. Red-shirt junior Nicholas Berry finished with a 3.61 GPA.

Jeffery will graduate this year, but a majority of the team, including both national champions, are set to return in what Spataro expects will be another successful season.

“I am very confident that the team members that were AA this year will be more cometitive once again,” said Spataro, “and the ones that didn't learned some valuable lessons on preparation and hopefully will be in the mix next year.”