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Wrestling plays host to Cal Poly in Pac-10 Dual

January 28, 2009

Sun Devil Mat Notes (pdf)

The Arizona State University wrestling team (4-5, 2-1 Pac-10) will look to end its three-dual home slide this Saturday night as the Sun Devils play host to the Mustangs of Cal Poly (3-8, 0-4 Pac-10) in the final of four-consecutive home duals this month. The Sun Devils enter the dual on the heels of a 26-12 loss at home to No. 9 Minnesota last Friday night while the Mustangs head to Tempe after suffering a 41-0 loss at No. 10 Boise State.

Food City will once again sponsor Arizona State wrestling as the grocery chain has donated money to the program and will sponsor the Sun Devils' dual with Cal Poly on Saturday night after also sponsoring the Sun Devils' dual with No. 9 Minnesota last Friday. Food City's generosity will not be limited to just the Sun Devils as the company also will be donating funds to the UMOM New Day Center in Phoenix. The Center aids the community's underprivileged children and families.

InterMat released its Division I national team and individual rankings on January 20 with both Chris Drouin (No. 6 at 141) and Anthony Robles (No. 11 at 125) remaining among the Top 12 nationally in their respective weight classes.

The NCAA released its first of three Coaches Panel rankings that will be utilized later this season to select the competitors for the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. In the initial release, Chris Drouin is ranked No. 6 at 141 while Anthony Robles is tied for 11th (with Joey Fio of Oklahoma). The rankings are based on points earned according the ranking assigned by each voter in their mock Top 33 (33 points for 1st place down to 1 point for 33rd).

The coaches at CS Fullerton (hosts for the 2009 Pac-10 Championships) have begun releasing Pac-10 individual rankings in December with Anthony Robles (125) and Chris Drouin (141) both holding the top spots in their respective weight classes. The remaining Sun Devils are ranked anywhere between No. 4 and No. 8.

The Sun Devils won 4-of-9 contested matches and had the dual tied at 12-12 with three matches remaining, but two major decision losses and a forfeit ended ASU's upset bid with No. 9 Minnesota pulling away with a 26-12 victory on Friday (January 23) inside Wells Fargo Arena. No. 6 Chris Drouin (141) won the lone battle of Top 10-ranked opponents as he defeated No. 9 Mike Thorn, 11-7, and Vicente Varela won in overtime with a takedown, 6-4. Jake Meredith (184) and Jake Cranford (197) both won their matches as well.

With his 11-7 decision over No. 9 Mike Thorn, No. 6 Chris Drouin not only knocked off the Golden Gopher for the second time this season, he also improved to 3-4 against nationally ranked opponents. His other victory came in an 8-4 victory over No. 8 Ryan Williams of Old Dominion in December. His losses have come to the current No. 2 Alex Tsirtsis of Iowa (twice, 3-2 and 2-1), No. 3 Nick Gallick of Iowa State (4-0) and No. 4 Corey Jantzen of Harvard (fall in 2:02). His only other loss of the season came to Chris Diaz of Virginia Tech (5-4) when Diaz was unranked (he is currently No. 20).

So far this season, Drouin is 8-1 in dual competitions with his lone loss coming in a 3-2 decision on the road to then-No. 7 Alex Tsirtsis of Iowa. In his eight victories, the closest result he has had was the 11-7 decision over No. 9 Mike Thorn of Minnesota last week. Prior to that, he has won two falls, one technical fall and four major decisions.

While Drouin won the battle of Top 10 wrestlers, Vicente Varela got the fans on their feet with his 6-4 sudden victory win. Facing Joe Grygelko at 149, Varela gave up a takedown in the first period, but escaped to trail, 2-1, through one. Varela escaped bottom to open the second to tie the match, but slipped behind again, 3-2, in the third as he was hit for stalling on top twice. Grygelko escaped to make it 4-2, but was hit with his second stalling to make it 4-3. With 1:14 of riding time, Varela tied the match at 4-4 at the end of regulation and, after thwarting a shot attempt by Grygelko in overtime, he shot in and finished a takedown of his own for the 6-4 victory.

Jake Meredith might be a freshman, but he showed some veteran skills in his victory over Brent Eidenschink at 184 pounds as he fought his way back from a 7-2 first period deficit to win, 9-8. Meredith was taken down and turned twice for five back points before securing a reversal and riding out Eidenschink for the remainder of the first period. Trailing 7-2, Meredith chose top and started riding, forcing his foe into his second and third stall of the match. Eidenschink escaped in the period, but Meredith took him back down and trailed 8-6 through two. In the third period, Eidenschink chose down and Meredith again rode strong, forcing a two-point stalling call to tie the match and won after accumulating 3:21 of riding time.

Over the weekend, Kelsey Campbell competed in the women's 59kg weight class at the Guelph Open in Canada and placed fourth overall with a 3-2 record. Campbell opened the tournament with a decision loss to Meghan King (Regina) before scoring three wins in a row in the consolations, including a decision victory over King in the consolation semifinals. In the third-place match, Campbell fell in a decision to Heidi Erdle (Calgary).

Since Thom Ortiz took over coaching duties in time for the 2001-02 season, the Sun Devils have been very impressive at home, posting an overall mark of 41-21-0. Ortiz' teams also have been nearly perfect against Pac-10 foes as the Sun Devils stand 25-4-0 against league opponents after going 1-2 last year. ASU is 3-3 overall at home this year and 2-1 against Pac-10 foes. ASU's last home dual came Friday, a 26-12 setback to No. 9 Minnesota.

The Sun Devils, who are 2-1 so far this season in conference action, have competed in the Pac-10 Conference for 30 seasons, starting in the 1978-79 season. During that time, Arizona State has won over 87-percent (.871) of its Pac-10 duals, recording a mark of 111-17-1 against 13 different schools. Of those 13 teams, eight are still competing in the Pac-10 Conference with the Sun Devils holding a 78-17-1 record against those teams.

Arizona State holds a 43-10-0 record against Pac-10 foes since Thom Ortiz took over the program eight years ago, including a 25-4-0 home record and an 18-6-0 road mark after opening the conference slate with home wins over UC Davis and Portland State. The long conference loss for ASU this year came at home against CS Bakersfield earlier this month.

The Sun Devils' dual with the Mustangs this weekend will be the fourth of the year of Arizona State, all of which have come at home. After a tough road trip to Stanford and Oregon State next weekend, the Sun Devils will close out the year with its fifth home conference dual of the season when CS Fullerton visits Tempe.

The Mustangs enter the dual having dropped their last six duals in a row, including the last four in Pac-10 matches, to hold a 3-8 overall record and an 0-4 mark in the league. Head Coach John Azevedo's team has met two opponents that ASU also has faced with both teams losing to those common opponents, Oklahoma and CS Bakersfield. Individually, Chase Pami is the top Mustang as he carriers a 16-7 record on the year and is ranked No. 14 at 157 pounds.

SERIES: DEVILS VS. MUSTANGS Arizona State leads the all-time series, 30-9-0, and enters this year's dual with Cal Poly looking to avenge a 24-17 loss in San Luis Obispo last year that halted ASU's 18-dual winning streak in the series. The Sun Devils are 16-2-0 all-time in duals held in Tempe and have won 11 in a row at home, including a 26-18 decision on February 11, 2007. The last time ASU lost at home to CPU came on December 10, 1982, in a 23-13 score.

Saturday's dual will not feature a meeting of nationally ranked foes as the only three nationally ranked competitors are at different weight classes, including No. 11 Anthony Robles (125) and No. 6 Chris Drouin (141) for the Sun Devils and No. 14 Chase Pami (157) for CPU. Several of the matches will, however, pit wrestlers against one another that are ranked in the Pac-10 rankings (Jan. 16). Four of those matches will feature a pair of wrestlers that are closely ranked in the Top 8 of the conference standings, including: No. 5 Jake Cranford vs. No. 6 Bo Lukehart at 197 and No. 6 Eric Starks vs. No. 7 Ryan DesRoches at 174).

Two Sun Devils have previously faced Mustang opponents this season with both members of the ASU squad picking up victories. At the Las Vegas Invitational, Eric Starks (174) defeated Ryan DesRoches, 6-4, in the tie breaker. Then, later in the month, at the Reno Tournament of Champions, Jake Cranford (197) took on Bo Lukehart and won, 4-1.

Looking at the national statistics, Anthony Robles has a pretty dominating year so far. With a 19-5 overall record, Robles has won 17 matches with bonus points, including seven by tech fall, seven by fall, one major decision and two forfeits. Adding those points together, along with the six points from his two decision wins, gives him 99 points this year, the 42nd-most in NCAA Division I. That point total also ranks as the sixth-best among all 125-pound wrestlers in the nation and is third among all Pac-10 wrestlers. His seven wins by technical fall also rank fifth nationally and are the most recorded by a 125-pound wrestler as well as the most by any wrestler in the Pac-10.

Sun Devils have won 105 matches this year with 67 of those -- or 64% -- producing bonus points for the team. So far this season, the Sun Devils have won 17 major decisions, 10 technical falls, 18 pin falls and 12 forfeits.

Jake Meredith stuck his foe from Grand Canyon in 1:44 to score only the ninth-fast fall of the season and gave ASU its 13th first-period pin on the year. So far this year, Arizona State wrestlers have pinned foes in under one minute three times, including a team-leading fall in 32 seconds by Anthony Robles at the Las Vegas Invitational. The team also has six others coming in under two minutes of match time.

Similar to last year, several Sun Devils have made their collegiate and/or Arizona State debuts on the mats this season with one more joining the list this past weekend against Minnesota. Last week, David Prado, a redshirt freshman, debuted and dropped a 14-5 major decision to No. 7 Zach Sanders, making him the 12th different wrestler to wrestle in his first match for ASU. So far this season, three true freshman have competed, including Te Edwards, Eric Starks and Jake Meredith, and eight redshirt freshman, including Prado, Sal Musto, Anthony Morales, Jeff Cappellini, Vicente Varela, Michael Swigart, Nick Williams and Kyle DeBerry. Erik Nye, a junior college transfer, also saw his first action for the Sun Devils this fall.

With debuts come first victories and another name added to the list following the Midlands Championships where Te Edwards went 1-2 with a win by major decision. Of those 11 Sun Devils that debuted so far this season, eight have won at least one bout this season: Vicente Varela (149), Edwards (157), Kyle DeBerry (165), Eric Starks (174), Jake Meredith (184), Jeff Cappellini (197), Nick Williams and Erik Nye (285).

With their 38-6 defeat of Embry-Riddle, the Sun Devils improved to 3-0 on the year in home duals. The win also marked the 17th time in program history -- as well as the second year in a row -- the team has opened a season 3-0 or better at home. In the program's history, eight Sun Devil teams have gone undefeated at home with the last time coming in the 1992-93 season (8-0-0). Since their win over ERAU, though, the Sun Devils have dropped three in a row (CS Bakersfield, No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 9 Minnesota).

With their 40-0 win over Portland State, the Sun Devils not only recorded their 12th victory in a row over the Vikings (12-1-0 all-time in the series), they also posted the 25th shut out victory in program history. The last time ASU shut out an opponent came in a 46-0 defeat of intrastate rival Embry-Riddle on December 5, 2002, in Tempe. Conversely, the last time the Sun Devils were shut out came this year as ASU fell at Iowa, 41-0.

Last season, the Sun Devils, at various points, had up to seven redshirt freshmen in their starting 10 with two or three seniors. This year, the team will continue to be young as 27 of the 36 athletes on the roster are freshmen or sophomores, including 12 redshirt freshmen and six true freshmen. Also, the team has two seniors (Kelsey Campbell and Preston Pruett) along with seven juniors.

Kelsey Campbell, one of the two seniors on the squad this year, is set to defend the two U.S. Women's College Wrestling National Championships that she has won in 2007 (63kg) and 2008 (59kg). The No. 1 college wrestler in the nation at 59kg last year, Campbell competed in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials over the summer and has placed among the Top 4 in several national events throughout the past year.

Arizona (12) and California (nine) provide wrestlers for more than half of the Sun Devil roster this year with other western/southwestern states adding 11 more, including two each from Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Three eastern states are also accounted for on the Sun Devil roster, including two wrestlers from New York and one each from New Jersey and Virginia.

During the month of September, two former Sun Devils competed on the international stage and returned with bronze medals. First up was the 2008 World Beach Championships in Durres, Albania, on September 21 with Jeff Funicello winning a bronze medal in the Under 85kg/187.25 classification for the second year in a row. Funicello also competed in the World Grappling Championships one day earlier and earned a bronze medal at the same weight class. Then, on September 26 in Perm, Russia, John Hughes competed in the 2008 Veteran World Championships and captured the bronze medal in Division E (56 years +) freestyle at 69kg/152.

Over the weekend, former Sun Devil All-American Ryan Bader stepped into the Octagon inside the Palms in Las Vegas, Nev., and won the light heavyweight division of the eighth season of the Ultimate Fighter. 'Darth' Bader, as he is known in the world of MMA (mixed martial arts), kept the fight on its feet in the opening minutes of action and exchanged punches and kicks with his opponent, Vinny Magalhaes, before landing a huge overhand right that dropped the world champion jiu-jitsu fighter from Brazil. Bader moved in with some more punches on the ground before the referee stepped in and called the fight for Bader at 2:18 (TKO). The former three-time Pac-10 Champion at 197 pounds will now receive a contract with the UFC.

Speaking of Bader's success on The Ultimate Fighter, another former Sun Devil will soon be appearing on the reality show on Spike TV as 'Dangerous' Dan Henderson will be coaching one of the teams on the next season. Henderson was selected for the coaching duty after defeating Rich 'Ace' Franklin in a light heavyweight battle in Dublin, Ireland, earlier this month.

In the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), the Sun Devil wrestling program has produced some top talent both now and then. While former Sun Devils have held championship belts in the past, including UFC Heavyweight Champion Dan 'The Beast' Severn and Pride Welterweight and Middleweight (at the same time) Champion 'Dangerous' Dan Henderson, the current crop of talent is already turning heads. That trio (all of which were All-Americans in 2006) include up-and-coming UFC heavyweight Cain Velasquez, TUF Season 7 runner-up (middleweight) C.B. 'The Doberman' Dollaway and TUF Season 8 light heavyweight winner Ryan 'Darth' Bader.

The next fight for a former Sun Devil will come in the UFC on February 7 in Tampa, Fla., when Cain Velasquez faces Denis Stojnic (12-1) in a heavyweight battle on UFC Fight Night live on Spike TV.

The team will be led by a trio of captains this season, including junior Thor Moen (197) and sophomores Anthony Robles (125) and Chris Drouin (141).

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 169-56-2 all-time inside Wells Fargo Arena (207-92-2 all-time at home). With its 36-3 defeat of Utah Valley on Jan. 10, 2005, ASU recorded its 150th victory at WFA.

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.

The Sun Devils will hit the road next weekend for a pair of Pac-10 duals as they are set to face Stanford and Oregon State. The Sun Devils and Cardinal will meet at 7 p.m. PT on Friday, February 6, in Palo Alto, Calif., before ASU faces the Beavers in Corvallis, Ore., at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Februrary 8.