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Wrestling hits the road to open season

November 09, 2010

Sun Devil Mat Notes (pdf)

Saturday, November 13, marks the opening day of competition for the No. 16 Arizona State University wrestling team with the Sun Devils taking to the road to face a pair of intrastate foes, first facing Grand Canyon and then Embry-Riddle. The Sun Devils (0-0, 0-0 Pac-10) and NCAA DII #7 Antelopes (0-0) will square off inside Antelope Gymnasium (South) in Phoenix at 1 p.m. before ASU heads north to Prescott and ERAU’s Activity Center Gymnasium for a 7 p.m. dual with the NAIA No. 10 Eagles.

• ASU enters the season ranked No. 16 (NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll)
• Robles (125) and Jenkins (157) are both ranked in the national Top 5
• Robles and Jenkins both will compete at the NWCA All-Star Classic (11/21)
• ASU is making its first visit to Embry-Riddle for dual action
• ASU will wrestle on the road in Arizona for the 2nd and 3rd times since 1993
• ASU holds an all-time record of 62-9-0 against schools from Arizona
• ASU is 34-14-0 in its first dual of the year (32-16-0 when that dual is on the road)
• Saturday will be the 6th time ASU has had two road duals on the same day (8-2)

The Sun Devils are set to enter the 2010-11 season ranked among the Top 25 in four different ranking services, including No. 16 in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll that was released earlier this week. In the other rankings, InterMat has Arizona State at No. 10; W.I.N. Magazine has the Sun Devils at No. 18 and has ASU at No. 23.

Looking at the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, six of Arizona State’s opponents are currently ranked in the Top 25 while the Sun Devils are one of four Pac-10 Conference teams in the rankings. Overall, ASU’s schedule includes duals with No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 15 Nebraska, No. 22 Oregon State, No. 24 Cal Poly and No. 25 Iowa State. Along with ASU, OSU and CPU, the remaining nationally ranked Pac-10 team is Boise State, who enters the season at No. 2.

According to Amateur Wrestling News, four Sun Devils enter the season ranked in the national Top 15, including a pair of wrestlers in the Top 3 of their weight classes. Anthony Robles and Bubba Jenkins both head into their senior seasons ranked third nationally at 125 and 157, respectively, while senior Ben Ashmore (133) and junior Te Edwards (165) are both ranked No. 14 at their weights.

On October 23, a new UFC World Heavyweight Champion was crowned and that champion is former Sun Devil All-American Cain Velasquez. The first fighting champion of Mexican heritage, Velasquez dispatched of former champion Brock Lesnar with a first round TKO to take the belt at UFC 121 in Anaheim, Calif. Velasquez is now the is the fourth different Sun Devil wrestler to hold a belt in the UFC.

Looking at the probable starting lineups for Saturday’s duals, fans could see upwards of six newcomers in the Sun Devils’ starting lineup. Those newcomers include Josh Sandoval (transfer from Chattanooga) at 125; Kalin Goodsite (coming off a redshirt season) at 141; Luke Ashmore (transfer from Oklahoma State) at 149; Bubba Jenkins (transfer from Penn State) at 157; Luke Macchiaroli (transfer from Penn State) at 197; and Levi Cooper (transfer from CS Bakersfield) at 285.

The 45th NWCA All-Star Classic presented by The Marines will be held on Sunday, November 21, at the Selland Arena in Fresno, Calif., and will feature a pair of Sun Devils as some of the best individuals in the nation get together for the annual exhibition competition. This year, Anthony Robles will face Zach Sanders (Minnesota) at 125 pounds while Bubba Jenkins will take on Adam Hall (Boise State) at 165, marking the 21st and 22nd times, respectively, a Sun Devil has been in the event. The last time a Sun Devil competed in the event came in 2007 when current assistant coach Brian Stith dropped a tough 2-1 decision to Trent Paulson (Iowa State).

Heading into his senior campaign, Anthony Robles holds a career record of 86-23 and needs 14 wins to become the 23rd different Sun Devil to break the century mark. Currently ranked 29th all-time in career wins at Arizona State, Robles will need 17 wins (103 total) to break into the Top 20 as he will tie with three others for 19th place, including current head coach Shawn Charles.

At the end of the 2008 season, Bubba Jenkins walked off the mat at the NCAA Championships as the national runner-up at 157 pounds for Penn State. He followed that season with a perfect regular season before an injury saw him go 0-2 at the Big Ten and NCAA events. After sitting out last season and transferring to Arizona State, Jenkins is entering his final season ranked among the Top 5 nationally as he sets out to win a national title and collect his second All-America honor.

One of the Sun Devils’ newcomers at heavyweight this season is Levi Cooper, a native of Hubbard, Ore. The redshirt sophomore is not only entering his first season with Arizona State, he also is entering the third “first season” of his career. Coming out of high school, Cooper enrolled at Portland State, a member of the Pac-10, and competed for one year. At the end of that season, the program was discontinued, forcing Cooper to look elsewhere to compete collegiately. He got that chance last year at Cal State Bakersfield (also a Pac-10 member in wrestling) where he redshirted. After one year at CSUB, Cooper departed and is now in the mix for the starting nod at heavyweight this year for the Sun Devils.

Arizona State is 34-14-0 all-time in its first dual of the season and has won five in a row, including the last three openers away from Tempe. Last year, the Sun Devils opened with a 38-6 victory at UC Davis, marking the third year in a row ASU opened with a win over the Aggies. The last time ASU lost its opener came on November 27, 2004, when host Iowa won, 29-10. Saturday’s dual at Grand Canyon will mark the fifth time ASU has opened the dual season against a fellow Arizona school with the Sun Devils easily winning the previous four (56-0, 50-6 and 44-3 at Northern Arizona and 39-6 vs. Embry-Riddle).

The Sun Devils have been impressive in their duals with other schools from the state of Arizona, holding an all-time record of 62-9-0. What is more impressive is the fact the Sun Devils have won 42 in a row against Arizona schools with its last loss coming in an 18-17 loss at home to Arizona on February 13, 1973.

When ASU opens the season this weekend with a pair of road duals on the same day, it will be the first time in program history the Sun Devils have both opened the season in that fashion while also marking the first time they have wrestled two Arizona schools on the road in the same day. The doubleheader has happened before for the Sun Devils as they have wrestled two duals at two different opponents’ home facilities on the same day five other times. The last time ASU has done this came on January 29, 2006, when ASU downed CS Bakersfield, 25-15, before winning, 25-18, at CS Fullerton. ASU has swept the two duals three times and split the other two, holding an 8-2 record in those contests.

The duals on the road in Arizona are a rarity in ASU’s history as they will wrestle at Grand Canyon for only the second time while making their first appearance at Embry-Riddle. The Sun Devils were supposed to wrestle at ERAU last season, but a winter storm prevented Nebraska from coming to Tempe, so the Eagles came down to Tempe and filled in for the Huskers and pushing ASU’s first appearance in Prescott to this season.

Prior to its 41-6 win at Grand Canyon during the 2008-09 season, the Sun Devils had not been a visitor against another Arizona school since defeating Phoenix College, 40-0, during the 1993-94 season. Despite the lack of road contests in the state in recent years, the Sun Devils are 26-6-0 all-time in road duals against Arizona schools and have won 18 in a row.

The Antelopes, entering their fourth year, are coming off the best season in their brief history in which they went 12-8-0 and qualified four individuals to the NCAA Division II Championships, two of which earned All-America honors. Both All-Americans return this year, including Victor Carazo (174, 4th place) and Ryan Becerra (184, 8th), along with national qualifier Todd Wilcox (133).

Arizona State holds a 3-0-0 all-time record in its series with Grand Canyon and is 1-0-0 in duals held at GCU. The Sun Devils won the last meeting, 39-16, in Tempe (November 29) last year and won, 41-6, on January 3, 2009, in the only dual held at GCU.

The Eagles return all six individuals that qualified for the NAIA Championships one year ago when the team placed 13th overall and saw two of its own earn All-America honors. Tyler Chang finished third at 157 to earn his third All-America honor while Trace Billet took seventh at 149 to earn his first honor. The other national qualifiers included Jeremy Mazon and John Garza at 133 and Mitch Newcomer and Josh Chang at 141.

Arizona State holds a 10-0-0 all-time record in its series with Embry-Riddle with all 10 duals being held in Tempe. Last year, the ASU won, 41-4, on January 22.

Of the 32 members of this year’s roster, 18 are new to the team, including five that have transferred into the program. The transfers include two that joined Arizona State last January in Luke Ashmore (Oklahoma State) and Luke Macchiaroli (Penn State), and recent additions in Levi Cooper (CS Bakersfield), Bubba Jenkins (Penn State) and Josh Sandoval (Chattanooga). The remaining 13 newcomers are all freshmen and hail from 10 different states. The newest rookie class includes Bobby Bowman (Glenwood, Md.), Tommy Burriel (Clovis, Calif.), Dan Crook (Brigham City, Utah), Derek Felton (Chandler, Ariz.), Nathan Hoffer (Anchorage, Alaska), Kevin Maelfeyt (Weaverville, Calif.), Shane McGough (Phoenix), Kyle McIntosh (Federal Way, Wash.), Dalton Miller (Haysville, Kan.), Wesley Moore (Queen Creek, Ariz.), David Prieto (Las Vegas), Kevin Radford (Fayetteville, N.C.) and Joel Smith (Lawrenceville, Ga.).

Five individuals are entering their final collegiate seasons, including local standout Anthony Robles, who has earned a pair of All-American honors after a solid career at nearby Mesa High School. The remaining seniors include Ben Ashmore, Bubba Jenkins, Orlando Jimenez and Lucas Mariacher. All five will be honored before the team’s dual with Cal Poly on January 30 (2:00 p.m.)

In the history of the program, 28 different families have supplied the Sun Devils with multiple wrestlers, including a pair of brothers this year and a second-generation Sun Devil. Brothers Ben and Luke Ashmore are the 26th set of brothers to be members of the Arizona State program while Luke Macchiaroli is the second member of his family to join the Sun Devils as his father, Tom, was with the program in the late 1970s.

Several weeks ago, head coach Shawn Charles rounded out his coaching staff with the addition of Ben Askren as an assistant coach. The 2008 Olympian and two-time NCAA finalist (at Missouri), who served as the program’s Director of Operations last year, will assist with day-to-day operations once again while also working with technique on the mat with the Sun Devils. He joins Brian Stith (fourth year) as the program’s assistant coaches this season.

Last weekend, 17 members of the program entered the Embry-Riddle Collegiate Championships in Prescott as unattached competitors with 12 returning the Valley of the Sun with Top 5 finishes. Three Sun Devils reached the final and placed second, including Josh Sandoval (125), Kevin Radford (184) and Levi Cooper (285). Kalin Goodsite (141) placed third while David Prado (133), Joel Smith (149), Kevin Maelfeyt (157), Wesley Moore (184) and Michael Hawkins (285) all finished fourth. Dalton Miller (125), Derek Felton (165) and Bobby Bowman (174) also finished fifth.

Aaron Simpson (7-1) will be fighting at UFC 123 as he takes on fellow wrestler Mark Munoz (8-2) in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Saturday, November 20, live on Spike TV. If the name Munoz sounds familiar, it is the same Munoz that wrestled for Oklahoma State.
• Also in the UFC, Ryan Bader (12-0) will meet Jon ‘Bones’ Jones (11-1) in a light heavyweight bout in Las Vegas at UFC 126 on February 5.

Next week will be a busy week for the Sun Devils as three events are on the schedule, starting with the team’s home opener on Thursday, November 18, at 7 p.m. inside Wells Fargo Arena against No. 8 Oklahoma. The dual is the team’s Gold Match, so all fans are encouraged to wear gold and pack the house to support the program. Then, on Saturday, November 20, the Sun Devils will compete at the CS Fullerton Open in Fullerton, Calif., for their first tournament action of the year. Lastly, on Sunday, November 21, in Fresno, Calif., Robles and Jenkins will compete in the 45th NWCA All-Star Classic presented by The Marines exhibition.