Ryan Mango set to make big impact in final season at Stanford

By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling | Nov. 12, 2013, 1:58 p.m. (ET)

Stanford senior Ryan Mango is a two-time All-American and a U.S. National Team member in Greco-Roman wrestling. Photo by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Ryan Mango is one of the best Greco-Roman wrestlers in the United States. 

Mango put his lethal combination of speed, strength and skill on display by turning in a strong second-place finish at the 2013 U.S. World Team Trials.

But before he turns his complete focus to international wrestling, Mango has one last opportunity to make his mark during his final collegiate season. 

Mango, a two-time All-American for Stanford, is one of the top contenders to win an NCAA title at 133 pounds this season. He is ranked third nationally.

Mango placed sixth in the 2011 NCAAs and fifth in 2012 at 125 before redshirting this past season. 

Mango went 15-0 at 133 pounds while competing unattached as a redshirt during the 2012-13 school year. Mango won the prestigious Midlands Championships, rallying to beat past NCAA runner-up Daniel Dennis in the finals.

“I just need to keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing,” Mango said. “I worked hard on a lot of different areas during my redshirt year and continued to gain experience. My mat wrestling was a big area of emphasis. I don’t think there is a real secret formula. For me, I’m doing the right thing by moving up a weight class. I feel stronger and I’m ready to come out this year full force.” 

Mango is in a strong 133 class that includes top-ranked Tony Ramos of Iowa and second-ranked Tyler Graff of Wisconsin. Ramos placed second and Graff third at the 2013 NCAAs.

“To accomplish his goals this season, Ryan will need to stay healthy and maintain a high level of conditioning,” Stanford coach Jason Borrelli said. “There are some guys at 133 pounds with a strong motor and making sure Ryan is in great shape is a high priority. When Ryan wrestles hard for seven minutes, it's hard for opponents to stop him. He is a very dynamic wrestler.” 

Mango, a USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior Nationals champion in Greco-Roman and freestyle, was part of the first recruiting class signed by Borrelli at Stanford.

“Ryan has meant a ton to the Stanford wrestling program,” Borrelli said. “He was the first real big name that we signed in terms of national accolades. We have been building the program around Ryan for the past five years. He bought in to the vision and was willing to come help build a program. 

“Ryan has a tremendous work ethic, he is extremely passionate about wrestling, he takes care of his school work, he is very professional, and he leads vocally in the room.”

Mango, from St. Louis, has maximized his time at one of the nation’s top academic institutions. He will leave Stanford with a degree in human biology. 

Mango has spent considerable time training with his older brother, two-time Olympian Spenser Mango. He also has gained valuable experience while attending the Olympics and World Championships in person.

“That’s been a great experience for me,” Ryan said. “I would recommend it for anybody. I saw Henry Cejudo and Jordan Burroughs win the Olympics, and watched Randi Miller and Clarissa Chun win Olympic medals. It was really amazing to be able to see that. To see what you are training for, that gives you a lasting motivation.” 

Ryan Mango served as a U.S. Greco-Roman training partner this past summer, helping his brother prepare for the 2013 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Spenser Mango placed fifth at the Worlds.

“Spenser has meant a lot to my career,” Ryan said. “I probably wouldn’t even have started wrestling if it wasn’t for him. He’s taught me a lot and showed me the way. We’ve been able to build off each other’s success and it is great being able to train with him. It’s definitely easier having someone to talk to who is going through something similar to what you are. He’s had a huge impact on me.” 

Ryan Mango nearly joined his brother on the 2013 U.S. World Team in Greco-Roman wrestling.

Mango upset two-time World Team member Joe Betterman en route to making the finals of the U.S. World Team Trials this past summer in Stillwater, Okla. 

Mango then locked up with Jesse Thielke in the finals at 60 kg/132 lbs. in a battle of top young studs who have excelled while coming up through the USA Wrestling ranks.

Thielke, a 2012 Junior World bronze medalist, won the first match before Mango earned a victory in the second match. Thielke then prevailed 7-4 in the third match of the hard-fought, best-of-3 series.

The Mango-Thielke series was an entertaining battle with non-stop attacks and both wrestlers going for broke.

“I love wrestling Greco,” Mango said. “I felt confident going into that tournament and I was able to have fun wrestling in that event alongside my brother. Competing in that environment got me pumped up and I had a pretty good performance.” 

Mango is a member of the U.S. National Team for the first time by virtue of his second-place finish at the World Team Trials.

"Ryan Mango has great potential to win at the international level," U.S. National Coach Steve Fraser said. "He has that winning attitude that is essential in performing at the top. Hopefully, he will get into a great training atmosphere and location once he finishes with his college career."

Mango feels the move up to 133 will provide a good fit for his senior season in college.

“I obviously feel better moving up a weight class,” Mango said. “The main area it helps me a lot with is my recovery. It’s definitely nice being up at 133 and it has worked out real well so far.” 

Mango is off to a strong start to the college season. He scored on a pair of double-leg takedowns in downing Air Force’s Greg Rinker 8-2 on Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

“My time at Stanford’s meant a lot to me – it’s meant everything really,” he said. “It’s been a journey, with ups and downs obviously. I’m looking forward to my last season here. We have a real good team and we’re optimistic about what we can do."