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National duals await Sun Devil wrestling

January 06, 2010

Coming off its third road conference victory of the season, the No. 22 Arizona State University wrestling team (4-2, 3-0 Pac-10) will travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa, this weekend to compete in the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals on Saturday and Sunday inside the UNI Dome on the Northern Iowa campus. The Sun Devils will open the double-elimination tournament at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday by facing third ranked and third-seeded Ohio State (8-0, 0-0 Big Ten).

Live video
For those fans that can't make the trip to Northern Iowa to see the action in person, Live Sports Video will be providing live video coverage of the event with all divisions of the tournament being shown. To access the feed, click on the following link: The service costs $5, which will allow viewing of matches throughout the entire weekend of competition.

Tournament info
The 2010 NWCA National Duals will feature 79 total teams, including 72 men's teams and seven women's squads. There will be six total tournaments held, including 16-team fields in NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA with the NJCAA holding an eight-team event. The seven women's teams will hold a tournament as well. For brackets, live coverage and more information, visit the NWCA site at

How it works
The National Duals is a double-elimination tournament with all teams entered competing in a team dual twice on the weekend. All 10 weight classes will be contested as they would be in a normal dual with the winning team advancing through the brackets. The tournament will place out through the Top 8 places with the first, third, fifth and seventh-place contests taking place on Sunday.

On the schedule
Arizona State and Ohio State will meet at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday with the Sun Devils wrestling again at 3 p.m. CT either in the quarterfinals against the winner of Cornell/Wisconsin or in the consolation first round against the loser of Cornell/Wisconsin. From there, the match times will be determined by where in the bracket ASU sits.

Nationally known
The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) released its coaches' team rankings once again on January 5 with Sun Devils remaining at No. 22 for the second ranking in a row. With the addition of the NWCA National Duals, nine of the Sun Devils' opponents this year (including two possible opponents heading into the weekend) are ranked in this week's poll. Those teams on the ASU schedule include No. 2 Iowa State, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Cornell (possible), No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 15 Nebraska, No. 18 Wisconsin (possible), No. 19 Cal Poly and No. 24 Oregon State.

Who is in?
For the Division I tournament, 12 of the 16 teams are currently ranked in the national Top 25, including the Top 3 and eight of the Top 10. The field includes (tournament seed in parentheses): No. 1 Iowa (#1), No. 2 Iowa State (#2), No. 3 Ohio State (#3), No. 5 Central Michigan (#4), No. 6 Minnesota (#5), No. 7 Cornell (#6), No. 8 Maryland (#7), No. 9 Boise State (#8), No. 15 Nebraska, No. 17 Missouri, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 22 Arizona State and unranked teams Bloomsburg, Buffalo, Northern Iowa and Northwestern.

Event history: National Duals
The Sun Devils are making their 16th all-time appearance in the National Duals and their first since placing seventh at the 2007 event. Arizona State is 32-29 all-time in the Duals and has placed in the Top 8 in 9-of-15 tournaments, including runner-up finishes in 1989 and 1990. ASU also has placed fourth (1993), sixth (2000) and seventh (1996, 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2006).

Last time: 2006 National Duals
At the 2006 NWCA National Duals, the Sun Devils were ranked No. 18 heading into the tournament and went 3-2 with wins over No. 9 Missouri (twice) and No. 13 Northwestern and losses to No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Michigan. The Duals opened with ASU getting a win by fall from heavyweight Cain Velasquez to take the dual from Missouri, 24-21. After a 38-3 loss to OSU, ASU rebounded with a 22-17 upset of the Wildcats before falling to the No. 5 Wolverines, 24-12. In the seventh-place match, the Sun Devils trailed by 12 points with two matches left and got those points back when Ryan Bader and Velasquez both pinned their opponents, including Bader with one second left in the match, to tie the score at 21-21. The Sun Devils won the dual based on tie-breaking criteria to take seventh.

Event location: UNI
This will mark the second time the Sun Devils have competed in the National Duals when they are held at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The last time that occurred was when ASU made a run to seventh place in 2006.

Individually ranked
The four individual ranking services released their numbers on Tuesday with three Sun Devils remaining in all four polls and one more Sun Devil being recognized in one poll. Amateur Wrestling News has Anthony Robles (125) ranked third, Chris Drouin (141) ranked 16th and Erik Nye (285) ranked 13th while has Ben Ashmore (133) 23rd. Robles also is ranked No. 3 according to D1 and InterMat and No. 7 according to Wrestling Insider Magazine; Drouin stands No. 15 (D1), No. 10 (WIN) and No. 17 (InterMat); Nye is No. 16 in both the D1 and InterMat rankings and No. 20 in WIN.

Pac-10 rankings
UC Davis, the host of the 2010 Pac-10 Conference Wrestling Championships, has begun releasing rankings for the conference and, in the January 5 release, 9-of-10 Sun Devils are ranked among the Top 5 in the conference, including four ranked in the Top 3. Anthony Robles is ranked No. 1 at 125 while Erik Nye moved up to No. 2 at heavyweight. Kyle DeBerry (165) and Eric Starks (174) are both ranked third while Jake Meredith (184) is fourth. Ben Ashmore (133), Chris Drouin (141), Vicente Varela (149) and Te Edwards (157) are all ranked No. 5 at their respective weight classes while Anthony Pike is No. 8 at 197.

The Buckeyes are 8-0 overall this year (0-0 Big Ten) and recently swept three duals in New Year with wins of 32-6 at Hofstra, 46-0 vs. George Mason (at Columbia) and 37-0 at Columbia. Ohio State opened the year with a second-place showing at the Oklahoma Gold Classic and also won the Las Vegas Invitational in December. The Buckeyes have six wrestlers ranked nationally, including No. 1 Reece Humphrey at 141 and No. 3 Lance Palmer at 149.

In the series: Ohio State
Arizona State leads the all-time series, 2-0-0, with both matches taking place in Columbus. The Sun Devils won the last meeting in the series with a 19-15 decision on January 26, 1990, after taking a 25-19 decision in their first meeting on January 6, 1985.

Opponenet info: Cornell
The Big Red are 1-1 on the year (0-0 Ivy League) and recently won the Southern Scuffle title after taking second at both the Body Bar Invitational (Ithaca, NY) and the Las Vegas Invitational earlier this year. Cornell has seven individuals ranked in the national Top 20, including No. 2 Troy Nickerson (125), No. 3 Kyle Dake (141) and No. 2 Mack Lewnes (174).

In the series: Cornell
The series with Arizona State and Cornell is tied at 1-1-0 with the Big Red winning the last meeting, a 38-4 decision in Ithaca on January 21, 2007. The Sun Devils won the first meeting in the series with a 27-12 score at the 2000 NWCA National Duals that were held in State College, Pa. (January 23).

Opponent info: Wisconsin
The Badgers are 2-3 overall this year (0-0 Big Ten) with wins over Old Dominion and Northern Iowa and losses to Nebraska, Oregon State and Boise State. Wisconsin placed ninth at the Las Vegas Invitational and took fifth at the Midlands Championships. Individually, the Badgers have four wrestlers ranked nationally (all four are in the Top 7), including No. 1 Andrew Howe (165) and No. 2 Kyle Ruschell (149).

In the series: Wisconsin
Arizona State leads the all-time series with a 1-0-0 record after winning the only meeting with a 25-10 decision at the Virginia Duals on January 8, 1988.

In the series: other duals opponents
Arizona State has faced 10 of the remaining 12 teams in the National Duals field, including (ASU's all-time record in the series follows each school listed): Bloomsburg (3-2-0), Boise State (8-0-0), Central Michigan (1-1-0), Iowa (1-24-1, Iowa State (6-22-0), Minnesota (8-11-0), Missouri (4-0-0), Nebraska (4-9-1), Northern Iowa (5-2-1) and Northwestern (4-0-0). The Sun Devils have never faced the remaining two teams in the field, Buffalo and Maryland.

Recap: CS Bakersfield
Arizona State hit the road once again over the weekend and scored another Pac-10 road victory, this time downing host CS Bakersfield, 25-13, on Sunday in Bakersfield, Calif. The victory pushed the Sun Devils' record to 4-2 on the year with a perfect 3-0 mark in the conference. The Sun Devils won 7-of-10 matches with the biggest win coming at heavyweight as No. 15 Erik Nye, who was ranked fourth in the Pac-10, downed No. 16 Mitch Monteiro, the top-ranked heavyweight in the conference, 5-3. Nye's win tied the team dual at 6-6 before the Sun Devils won the next two matches to take the lead for good. Here are the results of the dual:
184 - Jake Meredith (AS) dec. Mike Larson, 5-1
197 - Riley Orozco (CB) pinned Anthony Pike, 4:55
285 - #15 Erik Nye (AS) dec. #16 Mitch Monteiro, 5-3
125 - #3 Anthony Robles (AS) major Frank Lomas, 13-1
133 - Ben Ashmore (AS) pinned Tyler Iwamura, 1:21
141 - #12 Elijah Nacita (CB) major #11 Chris Drouin, 13-5
149 - Vicente Varela (AS) dec. John Cardenas, 12-5
157 - Michael Swigart (AS) dec. Andrew Balch, 4-3
165 - Joey Granata (CB) dec. Kyle DeBerry, 5-4
174 - Eric Starks (AS) dec. Trevor Hall, 4-3

The final match of the dual at CS Bakersfield was intriguing as it pitted Eric Starks against his high school teammate Trevor Hall for the first time. Starks and Hall both attended Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Wash., with Hall graduating one year earlier than Starks.

Close or not
So far this year, Anthony Robles is 15-2 with his two losses coming in tournament finals in Las Vegas and Reno. In Reno, Robles rolled his first three opponents with two falls (0:59 and 1:25) and a 17-2 technical fall before defeating No. 8 Chris Notte (Oklahoma State) for the second time this year, 2-1. In the final, Robles lost a one-point decision, falling 4-3 to No. 7 Eric Morrill (Edinboro). His previous loss this year came to No. 1 Angel Escobedo (Indiana), 4-2, in Vegas. With his win by a 13-1 major decision count at CS Bakersfield, Robles has outscored his opponents by a 121-26 clip.

With his win by major decision over Frank Lomas in the dual at CS Bakersfield, Anthony Robles moved into the Top 10 for career bonus points (since 1994-95) with 42 wins ending in either major, tech or fall. Robles has won 11 matches by major decision (17th at ASU), 16 by tech fall (2nd) and 15 by fall. Robles needs one more win by tech fall to tie Nick Frost (2000-04), who recorded 17 while competing at 165 and 184.

Heavyweight Erik Nye holds a 13-7 record so far this season with a 7-5 record in matches decided by two or fewer points. With a 2-1 record in those type of matches at Reno and another two-point decision at CS Bakersfield, Nye is now 3-2 on the year in matches decided by two points and he is 4-3 in matches decided by one point.

Varela improving
For the first time in the regular season in his two years of competition, Vicente Varela placed in a tournament as he finished fifth in the Reno Tournament of Champions (took seventh at the 2009 Pac-10 tournament). Varela won four matches in a row in the consolation rounds, including a fall in 1:07, a 7-2 decision and pair of majors (18-5, 9-0) before falling in the consolation semifinals. So far this year, Varela holds a 12-6 record and is tied for the second-most wins on the team. At this point last year, Varela was 7-7 overall and ended the season with a 10-13 record, two fewer wins than he already has this season.

See you next year
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.

Away from the team
Here are some other things happening involving former members of the program:
• In the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), four former Sun Devil wrestlers have found out who, when and where their next fights will be in the UFC with three making the trip to Australia for the UFC's first event 'down under'. First up, Aaron Simpson (6-0) will face Tom Lawlor (6-1) at UFC Fight Night on January 11 in Fairfax, Va. Then, on February 20, in Sydney, Australia, three Sun Devils will fight in UFC 110 with Cain VelasquezRyan Bader (11-0) will meet Keith Jardine (14-7-1) in a light heavyweight fight while C.B. Dollaway also will fight (his fight details will be announced later). (7-0) and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-5-1) fighting in the main event.

Come back
Speaking of Velasquez and other alumni, the Sun Devil wrestling program has been encouraging alums to come out and support the current mat men in their home duals. On January 22, when the Sun Devils play host to Nebraska at 8 p.m. inside Wells Fargo Arena, the program is inviting all former Sun Devil wrestlers back to WFA for Alumni Night. All alums in attendance will be recognized at 'halftime' of the dual and Velasquez will be on hand after the dual to sign autographs for all fans in attendance. More information for alums 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.

Lifting the lid
ASU 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.

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 3-0 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 85-21-1 record. When counting in the other schools that no longer compete, ASU is 126-21-1 against 17 teams during their time in 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 1979.

Next time out
Arizona State will remain on the road next weekend for a trio of duals on Saturday, January 16, as they take part in the 2010 Lone Star Duals in South Grande Prairie, Texas. The Sun Devils will face Harvard at 10 a.m., Air Force at 2 p.m. and Utah Valley at 8 p.m. (all times are central).