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ASU wrestling set to compete at Las Vegas Invitational

December 03, 2009

Following three weeks of dual meet competition, the No. 21 Arizona State University wrestling team is set to compete in its first tournament action of the season as the Sun Devils will make their annual trek to the 28th Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational this weekend inside the Star of the Desert Arena in Primm, Nev. The Sun Devils, who are 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-10, have competed in five duals so far this year, including four of those duals coming on the road to open the season.

Its in the Details: CKLVI
For more information on the tournament, fans can visit also will be on location and will be providing a live blog of the happenings from around the competition area. Action starts both days at 9 a.m. PT (10 a.m. Arizona).

First of Four
The Sun Devils' participation in the Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational will be their first of four individual tournaments this year and the first of two in a row in the month of December. After competition this Friday and Saturday, the Sun Devils will next wrestle in the Reno Tournament of Champions on December 20. The remaining two individual tournaments with team scoring come at the end of the season with the Pac-10 and NCAA Championships.

Tough Field
This year's Las Vegas field includes 44 teams with 12 teams ranked in the latest NWCA Division I Rankings with three others receiving votes. Those teams include No. 4 Ohio State, No. 7 Boise State, No. 9 Cornell, No. 11 Nebraska, No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 13 Indiana, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 19 Old Dominion, No. 20 Illinois, No. 21 ASU, No. 23 Cal Poly and No. 24 Virginia Tech (Bucknell, Oregon State and Purdue are each receiving votes this week). Along with those squads, six other schools from smaller divisions also are entered into the tournament, including No. 7 Western State and No. 13 San Francisco State from NCAA Division II; No. 3 Cal Baptist and No. 12 Embry-Riddle from NAIA; and No. 4 North Idaho and No. 17 Western Wyoming from the NJCAA.

National Known
The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) released its coaches' team rankings once again on Tuesday with Sun Devils slipping one spot to No. 21 after three consecutive weeks ranked No. 20. Five of ASU's 2009-10 opponents are also currently members of the national Top 25 rankings, including No. 2 Iowa State, No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 11 Nebraska, No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 23 Cal Poly. Oregon State also is on the list as receiving votes. In the two other rankings, the Sun Devils remained among the Top 15 as they are No. 13 in the Wrestling Insider Magazine rankings and are No. 15 in the rankings.

Individually Ranked
Although only two Sun Devils are ranked this week, both Anthony Robles (125) and Chris Drouin (141) are ranked among the Top 5 in the nation in their respective weight classes. For Robles, Wrestling Insider Magazine (W.I.N.) has him as their No. 2 wrestler at 125 pounds while both Amateur Wrestling News (AWN) and InterMat have him at No. 3. Drouin, on the other hand, holds the same rankings as Robles according to W.I.N. and InterMat as they have him No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, while AWN has Drouin at No. 5. No other Sun Devils are ranked this week (Ben Ashmore fell out of the AWN Top 20 this week).

See You Next Year
Over the past few weeks, four individuals have signed National Letters of Intent to continue their education and compete for the wrestling program at Arizona State upon completion of their high school careers. The soon-to-be Sun Devils include Louis Trujillo of Rio Rancho, N.M.; Nathan Hoffer of Anchorage, Alaska; Joel Smith of Collins Hill, Ga.; and local product Shane McGough of Scottsdale. According to InterMat, three of those signees are ranked among the Top 100 recruits this season, including Trujillo, who enters his senior season ranked as the No. 27 recruit and No. 4 at 135 pounds. Hoffer is the No. 66 recruit and No. 5 at 140 pounds while Smith is the No. 82 recruit and No. 9 at 140 pounds. McGough, although not ranked among the Top 100 recruits, enters the season ranked No. 9 nationally at 130 pounds and is one of the top wrestlers in the state.

Taking Notice
With four strong recruits signed, head coach Shawn Charles' 2010 recruiting class is already being lauded as one of the best in the nation as InterMat has pegged it as the No. 10 class in the nation following the early signing period. The schools ahead of the Sun Devils include No. 1 Iowa, No. 2 Northwestern, No. 3 Iowa State, No. 4 Penn State, No. 5 Cornell, No. 6 Cal Poly, No. 7 Minnesota, No. 8 Missouri and No. 9 Ohio State.

In the Event: Las Vegas
The 2009 Las Vegas Invitational will be the 28th edition of the tournament with the Sun Devils making their 25th all-time appearance in the event, which includes every tournament held since the 1985 event. In that time, the Sun Devils have won the event three times, including the 1987, 1989 and 1992 tournaments, while finishing as the runner-up twice (1988, 1997). Overall, Arizona State has placed among the Top 5 16 times and among the Top 10 on 21 different occasions. The Sun Devils individually will be looking to capture a crown with the last individual winner coming in 2006 when current assistant coach Brian Stith won the 157 title.

Last Time: 2008 Las Vegas Invite
The Sun Devils competed in the Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational last year in Las Vegas and accumulated 45 points to finish 18th overall as a team. Individual, Anthony Robles and Chris Drouin were the lone Sun Devils to place in the Top 8 of the event as Robles took third place at 125 pounds and Drouin was fifth at 141 pounds.

Quick Recap: Grand Canyon
Arizona State won 7-of-10 matches, including six that produced bonus points, and easily defeated visiting Grand Canyon, 39-16, Sunday inside Wells Fargo Arena. ASU won three matches by forfeit (125, 149 and 157) and picked up six more team points each at 141, 184 and 285 as No. 5 Chris Drouin (5:36), Jake Meredith (1:00) and Erik Nye (1:34), respectively, pinned their foes. The final win came at 133 where Ben Ashmore won a 6-3 decision over Todd Wilcox, who entered the match with a perfect 13-0 record on the year.

Copper State Showdowns
For the third year in a row, the Sun Devils will wrestle against two schools hailing from the state of Arizona, which, prior to the 2007-08 season, had not happened since 1981 when ASU won, 34-12, at Arizona and 43-6 at home against Northern Arizona. The first of the two intrastate battles took place last Sunday with Grand Canyon visiting the Sun Devils while the second dual will be held January 24 at 3 p.m. when the Sun Devils travel north to Prescott to face Embry-Riddle, just the program's second road dual against another Arizona school since 1993. In that 16 year span, the Sun Devils have wrestled another Arizona school 12 times (12-0), defeating Embry-Riddle nine times and Grand Canyon three times (including the 39-16 win this year). Overall, the Sun Devils stand 56-9-0 all-time against teams from the state of Arizona, including 9-0 against ERAU and 3-0 against GCU, the lone remaining programs in the state.

Still Undefeated
Two current starters remain undefeated on the season through the first three weeks of competition and they include Anthony Robles at 125 pounds and Chris Drouin at 141 pounds. Both men are 5-0 on the year and will be tested this weekend with a very strong field of highly-ranked foes assembled for the Las Vegas Invitational.

Robles Rolling
So far this year, Anthony Robles has built a 5-0 overall record with only one match going the full seven minutes as he defeated No. 8 Chris Notte of Oklahoma State, 2-0, in a road dual. Three of his wins have come by technical falls as he has outscored his opponents 58-8 in those three matches. His most recent win was a forfeit by Grand Canyon, giving him a team-high 24 teams points scored this year (Chris Drouin is second with 20).

Picking up the Pace
Entering the dual with Grand Canyon, the Sun Devils had pinned just three opponents with only one fall coming in the first period (Vicente Varela, 2:30 against UC Davis). In the dual with the Antelopes, the Sun Devils won three matches by fall with two of those pin times coming in under 1:34 of the first period. Chris Drouin was the first to pin an opponent, doing so in 5:36 before Jake Meredith and Erik Nye made short work of their opponents, needing just 1:00 and 1:34, respectively, to secure a six-point win for the team. Although quite fast, both men still have one teammate ahead of them for the honor of fastest fall as Tony Ruiz (149) stuck an opponent at the Fullerton Open two weeks ago in just 44 seconds.

Away from the Team
Several wrestlers with ties to the program have been and will be competing in international events recently and here is a look at what they are doing:
• Volunteer coach Raymond Jordan recently traveled to Nice, France, for the Henri Deglane Challenge (Nov. 27-28) and returned with a bronze medal after posting a 3-1 record at the 84kg (185 pounds) freestyle division. Jordan was representing Sunkist Kids WC.
• Former Sun Devil Kelsey Campbell and several other women's freestyle wrestlers will travel to Beijing, China, next week to take part in a 10-day training and exhibition trip with Team China. Campbell was a two-time Women's Collegiate National Champion while with the Sun Devils and recently won the 2009 U.S. Championship at 59kg (130 pounds).
• Grappling, the newest emerging style of wrestling, will take center stage in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on December 12-13, as the FILA World Grappling Championships will take place in the Sunshine State with three with ties to the program set to represent Team USA. Current wrestler Kenny Lester will compete in three events, the No-Gi 120kg, Gi 120kg and Gi Absolute (open) divisions while current Director of Operations Ben Askren will compete in the No-Gi 84kg division. Former Sun Devil Jeff Funicello will compete in both the No-Gi and Gi 84kg divisions. Grappling is a form of submission wrestling which does not allow striking.
• In the world of Mixed Martial Arts, several former Sun Devils are making names for themselves with one former ASU All-American fighting next month as Aaron Simpson (6-0) will take on Tom Lawlor (6-1) at UFC Fight Night in Fairfax, Va., on January 11, 2010. Other former Sun Devils will be fighting in events after that and their fights will be announced at a later date.

Get Connected, Stay Connected
Are you a social net-worker that wants to get connected to the Sun Devils? Well, we have two ways you can do that! If you are on Twitter, request to follow our program by going to for our latest tweets. If you are on Facebook, type Sun Devil Wrestling into the search box and join our fan page, which will have updates and photos throughout the year. And be sure to check back throughout the season to find out about special happenings, including auctions for seats on the ASU bench and other great deals.

Do we know you?
While the social network sites are a great way to get updates on us, another way for future Sun Devils, their coaches, our alumni and all friends of the program can stay in touch with us is by filling out the form on the wrestling page of On that page, under the headlines, are links to filling out a recruiting questionnaire as well as a questionnaire for our alumni to reconnect and for others to also become part of the program. Make sure you fill out the form to stay up-to-date on the program.

Up Close
Fans have the unique opportunity to get up close to the action as they can purchase mat side tickets for the entire season for a $75 donation to the program. Fans can also support the program and show their Sun Devil pride by purchasing 'Wrestling with the Devil' T-shirts. Both the ticket and T-shirt forms can be found on the right side of the wrestling page on (look under SUPPORT ASU WRESTLING). Merchandise and autographs with the wrestlers and coaches also will be available on the arena floor following the dual.

One Year Older
Last year, the Sun Devils had a starting line-up much of the season that consisted of two sophomores, two juniors, three true freshmen and three redshirt freshmen. With eight of the 10 in just their first or second seasons, the Sun Devils had one of the youngest lineups in the nation. This year, however, those young wrestlers enter the season with more experience and a line-up that has just two freshmen, Michael Hawkins (redshirt freshman) and Anthony Pike (true freshman) at 197.

Making his Debut
Just the sixth head coach in the 47-year history of the program, former Sun Devil All-American Shawn Charles made his debut on the sideline over the weekend and became the fourth coach in a row to win his first dual with the Sun Devils as Arizona State downed host UC Davis, 39-6. The past three coaches each posted victories in their debuts, including a 30-15 win at CS Bakersfield for Bobby Douglas (1974-75 season), a 23-15 win at Clarion for Lee Roy Smith (1992-93) and a 40-6 home win for Thom Ortiz against CS Fullerton (2001-02). Ted Bredehoft, following one forfeit win and one forfeit loss, led his team to victory with a 38-0 blanking of Cal Poly Pomona (1962-63) to also collect a win in his first dual in which wrestling took place. The only coach that did not register a victory in his first dual was John Wadas, who saw his Sun Devils fall at home to Utah, 23-11, to open the 1971-72 season.

Lifting the Lid
Arizona State continued a recent string of success in their first dual of the season as the Sun Devils' defeat of UC Davis have ASU a win in it's fifth season-opening dual (including three in a row against UCD). Overall, the Sun Devils are 35-13-0 all-time in their first dual of the season and 32-16-0 all-time in their first road contest of the season.

Ahead of the PAC(-10)
Since joining the Pac-10 Conference in time for the 1978-79 season, the Sun Devils have built a 28-4-1 all-time record in their first conference dual of the season and hold a mark of 23-5-0 all-time in their first Pac-10 road dual of the year (ASU didn't wrestle a Pac-10 foe on the road five times) following the win at UC Davis. Arizona State is 12-0-1 in its last 13 Pac-10 openers with its last loss coming during the 1996-97 season in a 21-18 set back to CS Bakersfield in Tempe.

PAC-10 Prosperity
Despite posting a 3-4 record against Pac-10 foes last year, the Sun Devils still hold a strong record all-time against schools in the conference and are 2-0 so far this season. Dating back to Arizona State joining the conference for the 1978-79 season, the Sun Devils have been one of 18 different schools that called the Pac-10 home with ASU and seven others still competing (including Boise State, Cal Poly, CS Bakersfield, CS Fullerton, Oregon State, Stanford, UC Davis). As members of the Pac-10, ASU holds an 84-21-1 record. When counting in the other schools that no longer compete, ASU is 125-21-1 against 17 teams during their time as members of the Pac-10.

By the Numbers: PAC-10 Success
In the 31 years the Sun Devils have competed in the Pac-10 Conference, they have won 16 championship crowns and 100 individual Pac-10 titles. When you include all 47 years the Pac-10 has sponsored a wrestling championship, the Sun Devils trail only Oregon State in both categories as the Beavers have won 17 team titles and 117 individual titles. Also since ASU joined the conference, the Sun Devils and Boise State are the only two schools to have won at least one individual title in each of the 10 current weight classes while ASU is the only school in Pac-10 history to win at least one title in each of the 19 weight classes that have been used since the 1979 championships.

Back for More
Twenty-five wrestlers return to the roster once again this season, including nine of the 10 men that competed at the Pac-10 Championships. The Sun Devils return three Pac-10 finalists in Anthony Robles (125 champion), Chris Drouin (141 runner-up) and Eric Starks (174 runner-up) with both Robles and Drouin coming off an All-American season as the duo placed fourth and sixth, respectively, at the NCAA Championships. Other starters returning include David Prado (133), Vicente Varela (149), Te Edwards (157), Kyle DeBerry (165), Jake Meredith (184) and Imanibom Etukeren (285). Several others that started at various points in the season are also back this season, including Erik Nye (285), Michael SwigartJerrad Trulson (157). In all, the returnees include four seniors, nine juniors, nine sophomores and two redshirt freshmen. (157) and

Hello! My Name is...
The program also has welcomed eight new wrestlers to the fold with six coming to Tempe as true freshmen and two in their sophomore year at Arizona State. The newcomers include Carlos Castro (141, Tucson, Ariz./Amphi HS), Sergio Cortez (165, Moorpark, Calif./Royal HS), Tai FukumotoKalin Goodsite (133, Riverside, Calif./Martin Luther King HS), Orson Lor (165, Tucson, Ariz./Amphi HS), Anthony Pike (197, Tucson, Ariz./Sunnyside HS), Jared Stephens (133, Westland, Mich./Westland John Glenn HS) and Daniel Walker (133, Phoenix, Ariz./Shadow Mountain HS). (149, Seattle, Wash./Lakeside HS),

But Wait There is More
Not only did eight new wrestlers join the program this season, but so did three staff members, including Bryan Snyder (head assistant coach), Raymond Jordan (volunteer coach) and Ben Askren (director of operations).
• Snyder was a four-time All-American (157) for Nebraska and was a two-time national runner-up. A four-time Big XII Champion and three-time NWCA All-Star Classic selection, Snyder went 136-11 with a 69-4 dual record in his days in Lincoln. He was a four-time NWCA All-Academic and Academic All-Big XII selection before earning two degrees from NU in 2002 (Sociology, Communication Studies).
• Jordan was a two-time All-American at Missouri, earning the honors at 174 (2009) and 184 (2008) to become just the fourth Tiger to earn All-America honors at two different weights. A four-time NCAA qualifier and 2007 Big XII Champion (174), Jordan went 123-29 in his career before earning a degree in Personal Finance Planning from MU in 2008.
• Askren, a U.S. Olympian at the 2008 Beijing Games, was a four-time NCAA All-American, four-time finalist and two-time NCAA Champion for Missouri. A two-time Dan Hodge Award winner, the three-time Big XII Champion went 153-7 in his career, won an NCAA record 18-consecutive matches by first-period pin and won 93 matches by pin in his career. Askren was a four-time NWCA All-Academic honoree and graduated from MU in 2007.

With their performances in St. Louis, Robles and Drouin both earned All-America honors to become the 63rd and 64th national honorees in the program's history. Overall, the Sun Devil program has collected 104 total All-America honors with four individual earning four honors in their careers, including current head coach Shawn Charles, the first Sun Devil in program history to do so. Robles and Drouin will now look to become the 31st and 32nd Sun Devils to earn multiple All-America honors in a career, which also includes current assistant coach Brian Stith, who was a two-time honoree.

Home of the Sun Devils
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 170-56-2 all-time inside Wells Fargo Arena (208-92-2 all-time at home). With its 36-3 defeat of Utah Valley on Jan. 10, 2005, ASU recorded its 150th victory at WFA.

Riches Wrestling Complex
On Saturday, January 7, 2006, the Sun Devils dedicated their new training facility in a joint celebration with the gymnastic team. The Riches Wrestling Complex, the John Spini Women's Gymnastics Training Center and the Cavanagh/Dickey Olympic Sports Plaza were dedicated and showcased as fans and over 200 supporters toured two of the premier training centers in the nation while both teams showcased their teams by holding practices. The facilities are located off Sixth Street behind the Kajikawa Football Practice Fields and beyond the outfield wall at Farrington Softball Stadium. Since the opening, the facility has hosted numerous practices for the Sun Devils and Sunkist and was a two-week training home for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Team before it headed to Beijing. One of the wrestlers that trained at the facility along side the Sun Devils was Henry Cejudo, who won Olympic Gold this summer.

Next Time Out
Arizona State will take a week off from competition to focus on the completion of the fall semester and take final exams, but will return to the mats on Sunday, December 20, as they take part in the 2009 Reno Tournament of Champions in Reno, Nev.