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Tough road trip through Oklahoma awaits ASU wrestling

November 18, 2009

After winning 17-of-20 matches and sweeping a pair of Pac-10 rivals to open the season with a 2-0 record, the No. 20 Arizona State University wrestling team will face a very stiff test this weekend as the Sun Devils travel to the Sooner State for a pair of duals against highly ranked Big 12 foes as they are set to face No. 4 Oklahoma State and No. 12 Oklahoma. The Sun Devils and Cowboys will tangle in Stillwater on Friday night at 7 p.m. CT before closing out the road trip with a 2 p.m. CT dual with the Sooners on Sunday afternoon.

In the previous 47 seasons as a varsity program, the Sun Devils have never done what they are doing to open the season: begin a campaign with four-consecutive road duals. The closest another Arizona State squad has come was the start of the 1975-76 season in which the Sun Devils won 23-13 at CS Bakersfield (11/20), won 23-19 at UCLA (11/21) and won 39-6 at UC Santa Barbara (11/23). In the 2007-08 season, ASU did open its dual season with four-consecutive duals away from home for the third time in program history, but only two of those duals were true away contests as ASU downed UC Davis (20-17 on 11/9) and Portland State (36-9 on 11/11) with wins of 45-6 over Pacific and 30-7 over Southern Oregon (both on 11/11) at PSU as part of the Portland State Duals.

Originally, the Sun Devils were going to be without the services of All-American Anthony Robles for their dual at Oklahoma on Sunday afternoon in Norman as he was to compete at Fullerton, Calif., in the NWCA All-Star Classic. The third-ranked junior was to face No. 4 Zachary Sanders of Minnesota, but has withdrawn from the exhibition event to remain on the road with his teammates and compete in the dual.

Although the Sun Devils have not wrestled at Oklahoma State since 2000, Friday's dual will not be the first time one of the Sun Devils in the starting line-up has rolled around on the mat on the Gallagher Iba Arena floor. On Friday night, ASU's Ben Ashmore will compete at 133 pounds as a junior after having competed for the Cowboys at 125 pounds just two seasons prior. Another 'homecoming' aspect to Ashmore's return will also involve family on Friday night as his brother, Luke, is currently a member of the OSU squad.

Last week, two wrestlers made their Sun Devil debuts as junior transfer Ben Ashmore went 2-0 at 133 pounds and redshirt freshman Michael Hawkins was 0-2 at 197 pounds. This weekend, a third Sun Devil will make his debut for the program as true freshman Anthony Pike will be in the starting line-up at 197 pounds. Pike was a two-time Arizona state champion at Sunnyside High School in Tucson, the same high school that 165-pound starter Kyle DeBerry competed for during his prep career.

Over the weekend, the Sun Devils won 17 of their 20 individual matches with 11 producing bonus points for the team (see below). Eight individuals posted perfect 2-0 records on the weekend, including Anthony Robles (125), Ben Ashmore (133), Chris Drouin (141), Vicente VarelaTe Edwards (157), Kyle DeBerry (165), Eric Starks (174) and Jake Meredith (184). Erik Nye (285) added the final win of the weekend. (149),

Five of those wins over the weekend produced six points (one forfeit and four pins), three produced five points (three tech falls) and three produced four points (three major decisions). Four Sun Devils won both of their matches with bonus points earned, including Anthony RoblesBen Ashmore (133) with one forfeit win and one pin; Vicente Varela (149) with one pin and one major decision; and Eric Starks (174) with a pair of major decision wins. (125) with two technical falls;

Last year, Vicente Varela went 4-7 in duals and, overall, won two matches by pin and two more by major decision. Through the first two duals of the 2009-10 season, Varela has won half as many in each of those three categories from last season as he is 2-0 in duals and won one match each by fall and major decision.

When Te Edwards concluded his rookie season at 157 pounds last year, he had won four matches, was 0-4 in duals and won just two matches with bonus points as he scored two major decisions. Through the first weekend this year, Edwards has already won half as many matches as last year (two), doubled his dual wins and recorded his first win by pin.

Last season, Eric Starks was not accustomed to earning bonus point victories at 174 pounds as he won two by major decision with no pins and no technical falls. So far this year, Starks is 2-0 with both wins coming by major decision, equalling both his major decision and bonus point win total from one year ago.

The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) released its coaches' team rankings once again on Tuesday with Sun Devils remaining in the No. 20 position for the second week in a row. Five of ASU's 2009-10 opponents are also currently members of the national Top 25 rankings, including No. 2 Iowa State, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Nebraska, No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 25 Stanford.

The latest individual rankings were released on Tuesday with a pair of Sun Devils retaining the rankings they held last weekend as Anthony Robles is ranked No. 3 at 125 pounds and Chris Drouin is No. 5 at 141 pounds. Oklahoma State's projected line-up for the dual on Friday night has nine of its 10 starters ranked among the Top 16 while Sunday's opponent, Oklahoma, has six ranked competitors.

For the 12th time in program history, the Sun Devils will be facing both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on the road in the same weekend and the fifth time Arizona State will open that road swing at OSU before facing OU. In those previous 11 trips, the Sun Devils have gone 0-2 six times, went 1-1 four times (all four times with wins over Oklahoma) and 0-1-1 once (tied OU).

The Sun Devils trail the Cowboys, 4-36-0, in the all-time series, have lost 14 in a row overall and have not defeated Oklahoma State in Stillwater in 16 attempts. The last time ASU traveled to Stillwater, it left with a 39-0 defeat on January 14, 2000. The last time the Sun Devils defeated the Cowboys came on February 3, 1993, in a 24-20 decision in Tempe.

Arizona State sent nine men to the mat in Stillwater (one forfeit loss) and were unable to collect and individual victory as the host No. 4 Cowboys downed the visiting No. 16 Sun Devils, 39-0. ASU lost four matches by four points or less, including Steve Blackford dropping a 5-3 decision at 165 and David Douglas falling in a 6-4 decision at 141.

The Sun Devils are 14-24-1 all-time in their series with the Sooners, have lost six in a row overall and nine in a row in duals held in Norman. The last time the Sun Devils defeated Oklahoma was at home on January 8, 2003, when they won on tie-breaking criteria, 21-21. The last time ASU was victorious in Norman was January 27, 1991, with a 26-12 score.

The Sun Devils lost 8-of-10 matches and No. 11 Oklahoma won six of those matches with bonus points to take a 36-15 decision in Tempe on January 18, 2009. The two Sun Devils that captured wins on the day were No. 6 Chris Drouin at 141, who scored a 15-6 major decision over Seth Vernon, and Kyle DeBerry at 165, who defeated Ryan Smith, 7-3. In the only meeting of nationally ranked competitors, No. 10 Anthony Robles was pinned by OU's No. 11 Joey Fio in 4:08 of the 125-pound match.

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.

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.

Next weekend, the Sun Devils will be playing host to Grand Canyon (Nov. 29, 2 p.m.) inside Wells Fargo Arena in their first of five home duals this year. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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

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),

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.

Arizona State will open the home portion of its schedule next weekend as it plays host to local rival Grand Canyon on Sunday. The Sun Devils and Antelopes, an NCAA Division II program located in Phoenix, will meet inside Wells Fargo Arena at 2 p.m.