Wrestling returns home to face Nebraska
For the first time in nearly two months, the No. 24 Arizona State University wrestling team (7-4-0, 3-0-0 Pac-10) will compete on its home mats as the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-6-0, 0-0-0 Big XII) come to town for an 8 p.m. dual Friday night inside Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. The Sun Devils, winners of their last three meets, are competing at home for the first time since a 39-16 defeat of local rival Grand Canyon on November 29. Following the dual on Friday night, the Sun Devils will hit the road once again, but stay in the state, as they travel north to Prescott to face Embry-Riddle (4-8-0) in a 3 p.m. match. The road contest with the Eagles will mark the first time ASU has traveled to Prescott to face ERAU.
Wrestling night in Tempe
When the Sun Devils play host to Nebraska, they will have 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 match. The dual also has been selected as the High School Night (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for free admission information) and Sparky’s Kids to College Night (contact Phillip at 480-727-0200 or visit http://thesundevils.cstv.com/genrel/sktc.html for more information). Gates 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.
The four fighters will not be the only alums of the program in attendance on Friday night as all Sun Devil wrestling alumni are invited back for the dual and those in attendance will be recognized on the mat at halftime of the dual. One former member of the program that will be in attendance is legendary coach Bobby Douglas, who led the Sun Devils to the 1988 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship.
Can't be here?
Those fans that can't follow the action in person can follow the stats on line at the following address: http://www.nwcaonline.com/nwcaonline/results/ColScorebook/CompetitionResult.aspx?ID=525822&ID2=30003&ResultID=-1&Mode=Live. The live feed of statistics will begin once the dual has started (8 p.m. MST).
Copper State showdowns
For the third year in a row, the Sun Devils will wrestle against two schools hailing from the state of Arizona, which, prior to the 2007-08 season, had not happened since 1981 when ASU won, 34-12, at Arizona and 43-6 at home against Northern Arizona. The first of the two intrastate battles took place on November 29 with the Sun Devils downing visiting Grand Canyon, 39-16. On Sunday, Arizona State will travel to face Embry-Riddle, just the program's second road dual against another Arizona school since 1993. In that 16 year span, the Sun Devils have wrestled another Arizona school 12 times (12-0), defeating Embry-Riddle nine times and Grand Canyon three times. Overall, the Sun Devils stand 56-9-0 all-time against teams from the state of Arizona, including 9-0-0 against ERAU and 3-0-0 against GCU, the lone remaining programs in the state.
Over the weekend, the Sun Devils won three duals in convincing fashion to not only snap a two-dual losing streak by starting a three-dual winning streak, but also bringing the program's all-time win total to 475. The milestone win came in the final of the three duals as Arizona State won 7-of-10 weight classes to score a 27-15 defeat of Utah Valley. The last time the team recorded a milestone victory was No. 450, a 31-16 defeat of Liberty at the Virginia Duals on January 13, 2007. With the wins over the weekend, the Sun Devils are now 475-273-13 all-time as a varsity program.
Recap: Lone Star Duals
Arizona State snapped a two-dual lossing streak with three wins in one day as the Sun Devils swept their opponents in their first appearance at both the Lone Star Duals and in any competition in the state of Texas.
• The Sun Devils won 7-of-10 weight classes in the opening dual, including five falls, to down Harvard, 39-12. The lone losses for the Sun Devils came against nationally ranked foes as Te Edwards dropped a 6-5 decision to No. 1 J.P. O'Connor at 157 pounds while Jake Meredith lost a 7-2 decision to No,. 7 Louis Caputo at 184.
• ASU then faced the Air Force Academy and posted a 38-6 win by shutting out the Falcons in the nine contested matches and winning six with bonus points, including two more falls. The Falcons scored their lone points at 197 where ASU forfeited the weight class.
• In the finale, the Sun Devils again won 7-of-10 weights with three major decisions and one win by forfeit to claim a 27-15 victory over Utah Valley. Three matches were decided by two points or less with the Sun Devils winning both matches decided by one point and falling in the two-point match.
With his three dominating wins at 125 pounds, Anthony Robles was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the Lone Star Duals. Robles opened with a pin of Steven Keith (Harvard) in 1:47 before sticking Andrew Zwirlein (Air Force) in 2:00. Robles finished the day with a major decision score of 10-2 over No 15 Ben Kjar (Utah Valley).
More outstanding performances
Along with Robles, four other Sun Devils went a perfect 3-0 on the weekend in Texas with each picking up team bonus points in two of those three wins. Ben Ashmore, a product of Dallas, went 3-0 at 133 pounds and posted a win by fall, by major decision and by decision, while Chris Drouin won by identical means at 141. Vicente Varela posted wins of decision, major and technical fall at 149 while heavyweight Erik Nye won by fall, forfeit and decision.
On the weekend, the Sun Devils were victorious in 23-of-30 matches and collected bonus points for the team score in 17 of those wins. Overall, Arizona State wrestlers won seven matches by fall, two by technical fall, seven by major decision and one by forfeit.
Littles going strong
The Sun Devils in the four lightest weight classes have opened the 2010 calendar year a very strong showing as the group of Robles (125), Ashmore (133), Drouin (141) and Varela (149) have combined to go 18-6 while leading the team to a 4-2 dual record. Robles led the way with a perfect 6-0 record while the other three Sun Devils each went 4-2 overall. Of those 18 combined wins, the four men have won 13 with bonus points, including five by fall, one by technical fall and seven by major decision. One of the decision victories was huge as well as Drouin knocked off then-undefeated and No. 1 Reese Humphrey (Ohio State), 3-1 in sudden victory, at the National Duals. Also, when looking at the six losses, four came to foes ranked in the national Top 8, including both losses for Varlea, who dropped matches to the No. 2 and No. 3 wrestlers at 149 at the National Duals.
The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) released its coaches' team rankings once again on January 19 with Sun Devils slipping one spot to No. 24 despite sweeping three duals on the weekend. Eight of ASU's opponents this season are currently receiving votes in the national Top 25 with seven of those teams holding places in the Top 25: No. 2 Iowa State, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 14 Wisconsin, No. 16 Cal Poly and No. 22 Oregon State. Nebraska is currently receiving votes, but not enough to remain on the Top 25 list this week.
Three Sun Devils are currently ranked nationally this week with Anthony Robles leading the way as he remained No. 3 at 125 pounds according to Amateur Wrestling News. The same ranking service has heavyweight Erik Nye at No. 13 and Chris Drouin at No. 15 (141 pounds).
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.
USA senior rankings
TheMat.com U.S. Senior Rankings were released last week with several individuals with ties to the Sun Devil program ranked among the best in America. In the men's freestyle rankings, five are ranked nationally including: Danny Felix (No. 1 at 55kg), Ben Ashmore (No. 5 at 55kg), Brian Stith (No. 7 at 66kg), Ben Askren (No. 3 at 74kg) and Raymond Jordan (No. 7 at 84kg). In Greco-Roman, Erik Nye is ranked No. 4 and Kenny Lester No. 8 at 120kg. In women's freestyle, Kelsey Campbell is ranked No. 2 at 59kg.
Opponent info: Nebraska
The Cornhuskers enter the dual with an 8-6-0 overall record (0-0-0 Big XII) and have lost three duals in a row with set-backs to No. 1 Iowa (33-3) and Buffalo (18-17) at the National Duals and at home to Wyoming (29-10). Nebraska has faced one opponent common to ASU's schedule, Wisconsin, and holds a 26-17 victory over the Badgers (ASU lost, 23-10, at National Duals). Three 'Huskers are ranked nationally including No. 2 Craig Brester at 197 (20-0), No. 3 Stephen Dwyer at 174 (17-2) and No. 10 Tucker Lane at heavyweight (18-5).
In the series: Nebraska
In the all-time series, Nebraska holds a 9-4-1 advantage and has won the last three duals in the series. The last time the two teams faced one another came on January 30, 2004, with NU taking a 26-9 decision in Tempe, marking the first time the Sun Devils lost to the Cornhuskers in Tempe (ASU leads, 2-1-0, in home duals). The last time the Sun Devils won in the series came on February 1, 2002, when ASU scored a 20-16 victory at home.
Opponent info: Embry-Riddle
The Eagles enter the weekend with a 4-8-0 overall record after going 1-2 in a trio of home duals last Saturday and also competing in a home tournament on Sunday. Prior to facing the Sun Devils, Embry-Riddle will travel down to Phoenix to face San Francisco State and Colorado School of Mines on Saturday before hosting ASU on Sunday. Ranked 18th as a team in the January 19 NAIA poll, the Eagles have a pair of nationally ranked individuals, including No. 3 Tyler Chang at 157 and No. 10 Trace Billet at 149.
In the series: Embry-Riddle
Arizona State leads the all-time series with Embry-Riddle, 9-0-0, with all nine matches being held in Tempe. In the last meeting, the Sun Devils won, 38-6, in a home dual on November 30, 2008. The first meeting came on February 19, 1999, with ASU winning, 40-6.
Taking down the top
At the NWCA National Duals, 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.
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 20-2 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. Including his wins at the Lone Star Duals, Robles has now outscored his opponents by a combined score of 151-30.
With three more bouns point wins at the Lone Star Duals over the weekend, Anthony Robles moved into a tie for seventh on the all-time list of wins by bonus points (majors, techs and falls) with 47. Robles, who as won 14 matches by major decision, 16 by technical fall and 17 by fall in his career, is now tied with David Douglas (1999-02) and Aaron Simpson (1995-98) for the seventh position and is two wins behind Nick Frost (2000-04) for sixth on the list with 49.
Keeping it close
Heavyweight Erik Nye holds a 17-8 record so far this season with a 9-6 record in matches decided by two or fewer points. Nye is now 4-2 on the year in matches decided by two points and he is 5-4 in matches decided by one point.
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 16-8 record and is third in wins on the team.
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.
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'. 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.
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 Twitter.com/ASUWrestling 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 TheSunDevils.com. 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.
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 TheSunDevils.com (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
The Sun Devils will return home next Sunday to face Pac-10 rival Oregon State in a 2 p.m. dual inside Wells Fargo Arena.