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ASU wrestling off to Oregon for Pac-10 Championships

February 27, 2008

The Arizona State University wrestling team will open the championship season this weekend as the Sun Devils head to McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore., for the 46th Pac-10 Conference Wrestling Championships, hosted by Oregon, Sunday and Monday. The competition opens at 11 a.m. Sunday and runs through 9 p.m. that night before starting again at 3 p.m. Monday and concluding at 9 p.m.

When the Sun Devils take the mats in Eugene this weekend, several things will be at stake. At the conference level, individual crowns and the program's 17th Pac-10 title will be on the line while berths into the 2008 NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Mo., March 20-22. Although the coaches will determine how the selections will be made prior to the tournament, in years past, the Top 3 placers at each weight class (30 wrestlers) and nine wildcard selections (as selected by the coaches following the tournament) will advance to the national championship tournament.

This year's tournament will mark the fifth time Oregon has played host to the competition and the fourth time the Sun Devils will be in the field (ASU was in the Pac-10 in 1969, the first time UO hosted the event). In the three previous times the Sun Devils participated in the Pac-10 Championships in Eugene, they placed second in 1979, second in 1992 and won the 2001 tournament. In the most recent event held at Oregon, the Sun Devils scored 123.50 points, beating out Boise State (110.50) for the crown. Individually, David Douglas (133), Eric LarkinSteve Blackford (165) and Kellan Fluckiger (285) each won titles to help the Sun Devils to victory. Lee Roy Smith, the head coach at the time, was named the Coach of the Year while Larkin was named the Wrestler of the Year. (141),

Arizona State's Patrick Pitsch was one of two student-athletes that participated in a podcast with the Pac-10 Conference. Designed to preview the Championships, the podcast can be found on the wrestling page of the Conference's web site,

For all the latest results and news from the 2008 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships, including ticket information, visit or

Arizona State won three individual titles and accumulated 76.5 points to place fifth overall at the 2007 Pac-10 Championships in Bakersfield, Calif. Brian Stith won this second title in three years at 157 pounds while Patrick Pitsch captured his second in a row at 165. Senior Greg Gifford won the 184-pound title in his first Pac-10 event. John Espinoza (125) placed fourth and Jason Trulson (197) placed third to join the three champions as representatives of the Pac-10 at the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

If the Sun Devils win the team title this weekend, it would move them back into a tie with Oregon State for the most titles won at the Pac-10 Wrestling Championships with 17. The Beavers broke the tie by winning the crown last year in Bakersfield, Calif., pushing the Sun Devils to second with 16. Combined, Boise State (3), Oregon (3), CS Bakersfield (2), Washington (2), UCLA (1) and Washington State (1) have won 12 titles total.

Since the Sun Devils joined the Pac-10 Conference in time for the 1978-79 season, Arizona State has competed in the wrestling championships 29 times. During that span, 54 different Sun Devils have secured 94 individual championships, including Eric Larkin and Markus Mollica, both of which were four-time winners. Ten others have won three crowns, most recently Ryan Bader, who captured gold at 197 pounds in 2003, 2004 and 2006.

Three individuals return to the Pac-10 Championships this year looking to defend their crowns won last year, including Sun Devil senior Patrick Pitsch at 165. Pitsch, the two-time defending champion, is joined by Stanford's Tanner Gardner (125) and CS Fullerton's Morgan Atkinson (149) as returning champions.

Weight classes were reorganized by the NCAA in time for the start of the 1998-99 season and in the past nine tournaments held with the new weight classes, two Sun Devils have won the 165-pound weight class twice, including Steve Blackford (2000 and 2001) and Patrick PitschRyan Bader at 197. (2006 and 2007). If Pitsch wins this weekend, he will be the first three-time winner at 165 pounds and just the third three-time champion in the nine lower weight classes (heavyweight has not changed). The other two wrestlers to do so were Scott Jorgenson of Boise State at 133 pounds and ASU's

If the most recent rankings hold true at the coaches' seeding meeting prior to the Championships, the Sun Devils will have five wrestlers seeded among the Top 3 at the respective weight classes, including Patrick Pitsch (165) and Jason Trulson (197), both of which are ranked No. 1. The other three Sun Devils ranked among the Top 3 include No. 2 Anthony Robles (125), No. 3 Todd Schavrein (133) and No. 3 Brent Chriswell (184).

The Pac-10 coaches normally seed the Top 6 wrestlers in each weight class for the tournament and, if that holds true this year, the Sun Devils will have one other Top 6 entry in Chris Drouin (141). Quinton Pruett (285) is No. 7, Alex Pavlenko (157) is No. 8 and both Orlando JimenezRick Renzi (174) is No. 9. (149) and

Six Sun Devils will be competing in their first Pac-10 Championships this weekend, including five redshirt freshmen. The rookies making their debuts will be Anthony Robles (125), Todd Schavrein (133), Chris Drouin (141), Orlando Jimenez (149) and Brent Chriswell (184). The sixth newcomer is senior Quinton Pruett at heavyweight.

Individually in the InterMat/NWCA/NWMA rankings (February 13), a pair of rookie Sun Devils are listed among the national Top 20 with Anthony Robles is ranked No. 17 at 125 pounds while Brent Chriswell is ranked No. 15 at 184 pounds.

Both Sun Devils ranked nationally are freshmen, which is rare this time of year. At 125 pounds, Anthony Robles is one of four rookies ranked in the Top 20 and is third among those freshmen at No. 17 behind No. 10 James Nicholson (Old Dominion) and No. 14 Tyler Clark (Iowa State) and No. 15 Joey Fio (Oklahoma), who he pinned during the season. The other weight class ASU has a ranked rookie is at 184 pounds where No. 15 Brent Chriswell and No. 8 Kirk Smith (Boise State) are the lone freshmen in the poll. The duo could face one another at the Pac-10 Championships this weekend.

The Sun Devils head into the Pac-10 Championships after losing their final dual of the season, 28-16, to Stanford (February 20) in Tempe. During the 29 years the Sun Devils have competed in the Pac-10 tournament, ASU has entered the tournament on a loss seven other times, winning three Pac-10 titles and placing in the Top 3 in all but one, 2004. The last time Oregon hosted the tournament (2001), ASU entered the event having lost two duals in a row and walked away with its 13th Pac-10 team title.

Overall this season, 13 rookies have made their debuts and have accounted for 85 of the teams 150 victories, including 54-of-84 dual wins and 27-of-37 Pac-10 wins. The freshmen have won 15 (of 22) major decisions, five (of five) technical falls, 16 (of 26) falls and nine (of 15) forfeit victories.

So far this season, Anthony Robles is 19-8. Of his 19 victories, 14 have produced bonus points, including five major decisions, four technical falls and fourth falls, all team-highs, as well as one win by forfeit. For the year, he has earned 75 bonus points, the most on the team, with fellow rookie Todd Schavrien second on the list with 43 bonus points.

Earlier this season, at the Reno Tournament of Champions, Patrick Pitsch (165) scored the 75th victory of his career with an 11-4 defeat of Daniel Atondo (CS Bakersfield). Jason Trulson (197) went 2-0 against the Oregon schools with his second win, a 3-0 decision over Shaun Dee of Oregon, giving him 50 career victories. Rick Renzi (174) is four wins away from his 25th career victory.

Since Thom Ortiz took over the program in time for the 2001-02 season, ASU has built a 40-8-0 record against Pac-10 foes, including an 18-6 record on the road and 22-2 in Tempe.

The Sun Devils have combined to win 150 bouts this year with 68 of those victories producing bonus points. Of the 68 bonus point victories, Arizona State has won 26 by fall, 22 by major decision, five by technical fall and added 13 forfeit victories and two injury defaults.

Of those 26 wins by pin-fall, only 13 have come outside of the first period this year. Brent Chriswell (184) has recorded the fastest fall of the year as he pinned UC Davis' Jon Clark in just 33 seconds of his first match with the Sun Devils and added a fall time of 1:02 over Zach Geisen of Stanford last weekend in the final dual of the season. At the Keystone Classic, Arizona State recorded four wins by fall, including three in the first two minutes of a bout. Anthony Robles added another quick fall at Oklahoma, pinning Joey Fio in 1:22.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Kenny Lester turned in one of the latest falls of the season this year as he pinned Cal Poly's Jim Powers at 6:58 of the heavyweight bout, or two seconds before the end of the bout. Lester was leading the match on points and was set for the win, but a late takedown gave the Sun Devil big-man a chance for the pin, which he took.

For the fourth time since it began hosting the Sun Devil Duals in 1999 (eight Duals), Arizona State walked away with a 3-0 record on the day as it scored wins of 22-13 over Army, 42-10 over Grand Canyon and 21-17 over No. 23 Penn. The Sun Devils previously swept the Duals in 2005, 2004 and 2001. The 2004 edition, like this year's, included an upset of a ranked foe (defeated No. 2 Iowa State, 22-20) as well as a win over another Arizona school (24-17 over Embry-Riddle). Since the first Sun Devil Duals, ASU holds a 17-6 all-time record.

Arizona State faced a pair of foes for the first time over the weekend and walked away with victories, including wins of 22-13 over Army and 42-10 over Grand Canyon. The win over GCU, an Arizona school based in Phoenix, improved the Sun Devils' all-time record against Copper Canyon State teams to 54-9-0.

Three upsets took place at the Sun Devil Duals, including two individual victories and one team win for Arizona State. In the first dual of the day against Army, No. 19 Anthony Robles used his quickness to build an early lead before winning his bout at 125-pounds in a 15-4 major decision over No. 16 Fernando Martinez. In the third dual of the day, No. 18 Brent Chriswell, who had not wrestled since the finals of the Keystone Classic on November 17 -- a 7-3 loss to No. 17 Lior Zamir of Penn -- stepped onto the mat to face Zamir again, this time ranked No. 13. In a tough battle, the Sun Devil freshman picked up a reversal to open the third period and held on for a 2-1 victory. Chriswell's victory also helped the team knock-off the No. 23 Quakers, 21-17.

The win for Anthony Robles was his second upset victory of the season as he also defeated then-No. 8 Javier Maldanado of UT Chattanooga in the semifinals of the Keystone Classic in Philadelphia... Brent Chriswell's upset of No. 13 Lior Zamir not only exacted a measure of revenge for an earlier loss this season (his only loss so far this year), but is also marked the second time Chriswell has downed the No. 13-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds after also knocking off then-No. 13 Doug Umbehauer of Rider at the Keystone Classic.

Over the past several weeks, the Sun Devil wrestling team has been getting out in the community more and working with local children. On November 22, the day before Thanksgiving, the Sun Devils visited the Crossroad Youth Intervention Center in Phoenix where they interacted with the children while handing out dinner and dessert. On November 27, the wrestlers headed over to the UMOM New Day Center in Phoenix where they read to numerous children from the community.

This year, the Sun Devils have a first on their roster as Kelsey Campbell is the first woman to join the Arizona State program. A transfer from Pacific (Ore.), Campbell comes to Tempe after competing for the Boxers during the 2005-06 season and then representing the ASU Women's Club Team last year. During the 2006-07 season, Campbell competed in her first National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Championships and won the 63kg (138.5) national title as an unseeded competitor. In the event, she knocked off the No. 4, No. 1 and then No. 2 seeds on her way to her first tournament title.

Kelsey Campbell is currently ranked on a pair of national women's lists, including No. 2 at 59kg in the Collegiate Women's Wrestling Association rankings. She also is ranked No. 5 in's U.S. Senior Women's Rankings (January 2008).

In her latest tournament action, Kelsey Campbell competed at the prestigious Dave Schultz Invitational and finished third at 59kg (130 pounds). Campbell opened the tournament with a loss to Othela Lucas, ranked No. 1 collegiately at 59kg and fourth in the U.S. women's rankings, in a 2-0, 1-0 decision. From there Campbell ripped off three wins in a row in the consolation rounds, including dominating scores of 5-0, 6-0 and 5-0, 7-1. She advanced to the third-place bout with a 1-0, 2-0 defeat of Natascha Ballas of Germany before meeting Lucas in the medal round. Campbell, who entered that bout having lost the last three matches to Lucas, won with a 0-4, 2-0, 2-1 score.

Seniors Patrick Pitsch, Rick Renzi and Jason Trulson and junior Quinton Pruett have been selected as the team's captains for the year.

Wells Fargo Arena serves as the home of Arizona State's home wrestling duals, as well as basketball (men and women), women's gymnastics and women's volleyball. Opened in the spring of 1974, the 14,198-seat arena has been the home venue of some of the Sun Devil greats with all 16 Pac-10 team titles and one of the two Western Athletic Conference crowns attained by ASU. Since its opening, 57 Sun Devils have captured 109 individual conference titles while 67 different athletes have earned a total of 98 All-America honors. The Sun Devils stand 167-54-2 all-time inside Wells Fargo Arena (205-88-2 all-time at home). With its 36-3 defeat of Utah Valley on Jan. 10, 2005, ASU recorded its 150th victory at WFA.

Those Sun Devils that qualify will next take the mats on March 20-22 in St. Louis, Mo., at the NCAA Wrestling Championships.