(San Francisco, CA) Over the next week, InterMat will unveil its annual, year-end conference awards. Each day will feature a new conference. Award winners have been selected by InterMat’s editor and respective conference correspondent(s).
2022-23 InterMat Pac-12 Wrestler of the Year: Michael McGee (Arizona State)
Senior Michael McGee got on the NCAA podium for a third time competing for Arizona State and saved his best for last. After finishing sixth and fourth in the previous two seasons, McGee went out in his final year and took third in the 133 lb weight class. That looks even more impressive when you consider the bracket that McGee had to navigate and his performance.
In the NCAA semifinals, McGee pushed two-time NCAA champion Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) to sudden victory before falling via a 6-4 score. Two matches later, McGee took a 2-1 decision over three-time national runner-up Daton Fix (Oklahoma State). It was only the sixth loss of Fix’s decorated career.
Before the NCAA Tournament, McGee captured his second Pac-12 title. It was also his fourth career conference championship, as he won a pair of MAC titles with Old Dominion. His Pac-12 finals victory gave McGee an 11-match winning streak heading into Tulsa.
McGee finished his 2022-23 campaign with a 25-3 record. The other two losses both came to the eventual national champion, Vito Arujau (Cornell). One was in a dual and the other was in the finals of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
For his career, McGee went 124-27 overall and 64-11 in a Sun Devil singlet.
2022-23 InterMat Pac-12 Freshman of the Year: Daniel Cardenas (Stanford)
Daniel Cardenas came into Palo Alto as the #2 overall recruit in the Class of 2022 by MatScouts. As one may expect by his pre-colllegiate ranking, Cardenas didn’t disappoint, winning his first 16 matches of the season. That streak extended into the 2023 Southern Scuffle. Before the Scuffle, Cardenas picked up tournament titles at the Menlo Open and the Appalachian State Invite. He’d end up third at the Scuffle.
Despite Cardenas’ strong first half of the season, it wasn’t a given that he’d be in the Stanford lineup. The Cardinal staff had a tough decision to make as they got good production from veteran Charlie Darracott, too.
After the Scuffle, it wasn’t until mid-February before Cardenas got back in the lineup, which eliminated the possibility of a redshirt. Cardenas finished the year with back-to-back dual wins, which gave him a perfect 5-0 dual record for the season.
Cardenas was the only freshman to claim a Pac-12 title during the 2022-23 season. His Pac-12 crown gave him a 22-1 record and the sixth seed at his first NCAA Tournament.
In Tulsa, Cardenas was victorious in his first two matches was put him in the 157 lb quarterfinals. From there, he suffered back-to-back 6-4 losses to Peyton Robb (Nebraska) and Ed Scott (NC State), which left him a match shy of All-American status.
2022-23 InterMat Pac-12 Coach of the Year: Jon Sioredas (Cal Poly)
The Cal Poly Mustangs finished their Pac-12 schedule undefeated to take the conference dual title. The Mustangs started the year 2-4 (albeit against excellent competition), but hit their stride against their familiar conference foes and ended up 8-6. Cal Poly’s win over Arizona State snapped a ten-match losing streak against the Sun Devils which went back to the 2012 season.
Individually, Sioredas’ team placed a wrestler on the podium for the third consecutive NCAA Tournament. 197 lber Bernie Truax entered the national tournament with the second seed and finished fourth. It was the third consecutive time Truax was fourth.
With the late addition of Dom Demas to the NCAA tournament bracket at 149 lbs, it gave the Mustangs five national qualifiers. They’ve had five in back-to-back years for the first time since the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
Sioredas’ team has now put together back-to-back winning seasons after going winless in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
2022 Award Winners
Pac-12 Wrestler of the Year: Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State)
Pac-12 Coach of the Year: Chris Pendleton (Oregon State)
Pac-12 Rookie (Freshman) of the Year: Trey Munoz (Oregon State)
Press Release courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics – Will Edmonds