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Trio of duals await Sun Devil wrestlers in Texas

January 14, 2010

The No. 23 Arizona State University wrestling team (4-4, 3-0 Pac-10) returns to the road this weekend to participate in the 2010 Lone Star Duals in Arlington, Texas, where the Sun Devils will face Harvard (2-3-1), Air Force (1-3-0) and Utah Valley (3-0-0). The Lone Star Duals will bring together dual competitions for collegiate and high school teams with the duals taking place at South Grand Prairie High School.

Wrestling night in Tempe
Next Friday, the Sun Devils will play host to No. 25 Nebraska at 8 p.m. inside Wells Fargo Arena with four former Sun Devil All-Americans joining the team on the bench as honorary coaches, including Cain Velasquez, Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway and Aaron Simpson. All four of the honorary coaches, who also are up-and-coming stars in the UFC, will be signing autographs following the dual. The dual also has been selected as the High School Night (contact for free admission information) and Sparky’s Kids to College Night (contact Phillip at 480-727-0200 or visit for more information). Gates for the dual will open at 5:30 p.m. with tickets costing $7 for general admission ($5 for juniors and seniors) and $3 for groups of 15 or more (contact Aaron at 480-727-3502 at least three days prior to the dual). The tickets purchased that night will be good for admittance to the ASU-NU dual and the two high school duals that precede the Sun Devil competition.

On the schedule
The Sun Devils will wrestle all three duals on Saturday and open with the Harvard Crimson at 10 a.m. CT. Arizona State will then take on the Falcons of Air Force at 2 p.m. CT before closing out the day with an 8 p.m. CT meeting with the Utah Valley Wolverines. Combined, the Sun Devils are 3-3-0 all-time against their three foes this weekend.

That's new
For the first time in program history, the Sun Devils will compete in an event held in Texas when they face three opponents at the Lone Star Duals. Dating back to the 1962-63 season, the program's first varsity campaign, Arizona State has not competed in an event in Texas, including both duals and tournaments. The Sun Devils have wrestled one team from Texas when they dropped an 18-14 decision to visiting UTEP on March 6, 1970.

Need three
This weekend, if the Sun Devils post wins in all three duals, they will hit a milestone victory for the program by recording the 475th all-time win. Currently, the Arizona State program holds an all-time record of 472-273-13. The last milestone victory that the Sun Devils reached -- win #450 -- came just over three years ago: January 13, 2007, in a 31-16 defeat of Liberty at the Virginia Duals

Heading home
One Sun Devil in the starting line up this weekend will be wrestling very close to home as Ben Ashmore (133) is a native of Dallas and graduate of Bishop Lynch High School. In fact, the location of the Lone Star Duals -- South Grand Prairie High School -- is about 20 miles from BLHS.

Nationally known
The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) released its coaches' team rankings once again on January 12 with Sun Devils slipping one spot to No. 23. With the addition of the NWCA National Duals, eight of the Sun Devils' opponents this year are currently ranked, including No. 2 Iowa State, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 14 Wisconsin, No. 17 Cal Poly, No. 22 Oregon State and No. 25 Nebraska.

Individually ranked
Four Sun Devils currently hold national rankings this week with Anthony Robles leading the way as he is ranked No. 3 in most polls at 125 pounds. Heavyweight Erik Nye is ranked No. 14 (Amateur Wrestling News) and No. 16 (both InterMat and D1CollegeWrestling) while Chris Drouin is No. 15 (AWN and D1) and No. 16 (InterMat) at 141 pounds. Ben Ashmore is the only other Sun Devil to be ranked this week, coming in at No. 15 in the D1 release.

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 13 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 remained No. 2 at heavyweight. Eric Starks (174) moved up one spot to No. 2 while Kyle DeBerry (165) remained at No. 3. Vicente Varela (149) and Jake Meredith (184) are both ranked No. 4 in their weight classes while Ben Ashmore (133), Chris Drouin (141) and Te Edwards (157) are all No. 5. Anthony Pike is ranked No. 8 at 197.

Opponent info: Harvard
The Crimson are 2-3-1 overall on the year (0-0-0 in the Ivy League) and are coming off a 20-20 tie at Hofstra (January 9). Harvard has a pair of wrestlers ranked in the national Top 20, including No. 1 J.P. O'Connor (17-0) at 157 pounds and No. 7 Louis Caputo (8-2) at 184.

In the series: Harvard
Arizona State and Harvard will be meeting for the first time this weekend. In fact, the dual between the Sun Devils and Crimson will mark just the sixth time ASU has competed in a dual with a team from the Ivy League (3-0-0 vs. Pennsylvania, 1-1-0 vs. Cornell). The Sun Devils have not faced the remaining schools in the Ivy League: Brown, Columbia and Princeton.

Opponent info: Air Force
The Falcons stand 1-3-0 overall (0-0-0 Western Wrestling Conference) on the year and have not competed in a dual match since dropping a pair in Corvallis, Ore., to Southern Oregon (20-16) and Oregon State (43-3) on December 18. Since then, Air Force has competed in the Southern Scuffle, finishing 17th overall. The Falcons are led by No. 14 Cole VonOhlen, who is 15-4 overall this year at 141 pounds.

In the series: Air Force
The Air Force Academy leads the all-time series, 3-2-0 after snapping the series tie with a 19-15 win in the last meeting, which was held in Tucson, Ariz., on February 22, 1975. Prior to that, the two teams wrestled one another every year for four years in a row with AFA winning the first two duals (one at ASU, one at AFA) before the Sun Devils returned the favor by winning in Tempe and then in Colorado Springs.

Opponent info: Utah Valley
The Wolverines stand a perfect 3-0-0 on the season (0-0-0 Western Wrestling Conference), but have not competed in a dual competition since November 20, a 26-10 win at NC State. Since then, Utah Valley has competed in the Las Vegas Invitational (29th), the UNK Loper Open, the Midlands (23rd) and hosted the UVU Open. Utah Valley is led by No. 15 Ben Kjar, who holds a 19-5 record at 125 pounds this season.

In the series: Utah Valley
Arizona State leads the all-time series with Utah Valley, 1-0-0, who started their program just one season earlier (2003-04 season). This weekend's dual will be the first between the two teams at a neutral location.

Taking down the top
At the NWCA National Duals last weekend, Chris Drouin did something that no one else had done this year and that was defeat Reese Humphrey of Ohio State, who entered the match at 141 pounds as the top-ranked wrestler in the nation and undefeated at 18-0. Despite pushing the action throughout the match, Drouin’s lone score came in the third period on an escape just as Humphrey had done in the second period. With a distinct advantage in shots and offensive moves, Drouin continued to push, but no scoring took place and the match went into overtime. In the one-minute period, Drouin again stalked Humphrey and eventually blasted through on a double-leg attempt and finished the shot with two points for the takedown and a 3-1 win.

Recap: #3 Ohio State
In the opening round of the NWCA National Duals, ASU held a 7-3 lead through three matches, but No. 3 Ohio State ran off seven wins in a row to close the dual and advance in the tournament with a 32-7 defeat of the Sun Devils. No. 3 Anthony Robles won by major decision at 125 pounds (11-1) and No. 16 Chris Drouin upset No. 1 Reese Humphrey (see above), 3-1 in overtime, for ASU's lone victories in the dual.

Recap: #18 Wisconsin
The Sun Devils were in most of the matches, but in the end able to win just three times as the No. 18 Badgers eliminated Arizona State from the National Duals, 23-10. No. 3 Anthony Robles won by major decision for the third match in a row, this time with a 9-1 score, while Eric Starks and No. 13 Erik Nye added decision wins at 174 and heavyweight, respectively. ASU lost three duals that were decided by three points or less.

Not too often
Arizona State competed in the NWCA National Duals for the 16th time in the program's history and walked away without a victory for just the second time. The last time the Sun Devils were unable to win at least one dual in the tournament was in 2005 at Cleveland State when ASU opened with a 24-16 loss to Michigan before being eliminated by Central Michigan, 20-19. The Sun Devils now hold an all-time record of 32-31 in the event.

Close or not
So far this year, Anthony Robles is 17-2 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 wins off 11-1 and 9-1 -- both major decisions -- at the National Duals, Robles has now outscored his opponents by a combined score of 141-28.

With those two major decision wins at the NWCA National Duals, Anthony Robles moved into the Top 10 for career bonus points (since 1994-95) with 44 wins ending in either major, tech or fall. Robles has won 13 matches by major decision (tie-15th 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.

Keeping it close
Heavyweight Erik Nye holds a 14-8 record so far this season with an 8-6 record in matches decided by two or fewer points. With a two-point win and one-point loss at the National Duals, Nye is now 4-2 on the year in matches decided by two points and he is 4-4 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 13-8 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 form 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'. On February 20, in Sydney, Australia, three Sun Devils will fight in UFC 110 with Cain Velasquez (7-0) and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-5-1) fighting in the main event. Ryan 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). Recently (January 11), Aaron Simpson remained undefeated (7-0) as he won a split decision with Tom Lawlor (6-2) at UFC Fight Night in Fairfax, Va.

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.

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 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
The Sun Devils will return to the home mats for just the second time this season as they play host to No. 25 Nebraska at 8 p.m. on Friday, January 22, inside Wells Fargo Arena.