Wrestling sends five to NCAA Championships
The college season comes to a close this weekend inside the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., where five members of the Arizona State University wrestling team will be on hand to compete in the 2010 NCAA Wrestling Championships. The competition begins on Thursday and runs through Saturday night when 10 individual national champions will be crowned.
For more information on the Championships, including brackets, updated results and streaming video of the event, visit NCAA.com/Wrestling.
ESPN will once again bring the Championships to the masses as it will provide hours of coverage on each day of the event. On Thursday, fans can 'tune in' on ESPN360.com to watch matches before switching over to television on Friday as ESPNU broadcasts live from Omaha with split-screen viewing of two matches at one time for the quarterfinals and semifinals. On Saturday, ESPNU will bring the placement matches while ESPN will cover the championship finals live starting at 6:30 p.m. CT (4:30 p.m. in Arizona). Ben Askren, the program's director of operations, will be on hand to provide commentary for the quarterfinal matches on Friday morning and is one of three former All-Americans set to help with the broadcasts.
As with every NCAA Championship event, the stakes couldn't be higher as the tournament will crown one team champion, 10 individual champions and 80 All-Americans at the end of the three-day tournament. Individuals will have to win five matches (six if you are in a championship pig-tail) to become a national champion while those eight individuals at each weight class that place in the Top 8 will earn All-America distinction.
Since becoming a varsity program in 1962-63, Arizona State has had at least one wrestler represent the program at 45 of the possible 48 NCAA Championships (which includes the 2010 tournament), including the last 36 in a row. The Sun Devils have placed among the Top 10 nationally 18 times and earned five trophy finishes (Top 4), including the 1988 NCAA Championship crown and runner-up finishes in both 1989 and 1990.
Since 1928, the NCAA has conducted a wrestling championship with 11 different schools claiming the crown. In 1988, Arizona State won the title and still is the only Western team to have done so in the history of the event. Based on geographical location, when removing ASU from the list, the most western team to win a title would be Oklahoma, who has won seven. The schools that have won crowns include Oklahoma State (33), Iowa (21), Iowa State (eight), Oklahoma (seven), Minnesota (three) and the following schools with one each: Arizona State, Cornell College (Iowa), Indiana, Michigan State, Northern Iowa and Penn State.
Looking to add
Heading into the NCAA Championships this weekend, the Sun Devil program has seen 64 different wrestlers collect 108 All-America honors. The first year a Sun Devil earned All-America honors was in the 1965 tournament where Glenn McMinn, Sr. placed second at 115 pound, Charlie Tribble was third at 177 and Buzz Hayes was fourth at 147. Starting in 1976 and through the 2006 tournament, the Sun Devils had at least one All-American in each of those 31-consecutive championships before not sending someone to the podium in 2007 and 2008. That streak was broken last year as Robles (125) and Drouin (141) both earned All-America honors.
In the field
The Sun Devils will send five individuals to compete in the NCAA Championships with four automatically qualifying through the Pac-10 Championships and one receiving an at-large berth. Based on qualifier allocations given to the Pac-10 and where the Sun Devils placed, ASU's automatic berths came from Anthony Robles (125 champion), Ben Ashmore (4th at 133), Chris Drouin (5th at 141) and Te Edwards (3rd at 157). Erik Nye was the at-large selection as he made the heavyweight field after placing sixth at the Pac-10 event.
ASU has not competed in an NCAA championship tournament in the state of Nebraska in its history as this is the first year the state has played host to the Division I event.
Last time: 2009 NCAA
Although the Sun Devils had only two individuals competing in the 2009 NCAA Championships, they made the most of it as both Anthony Robles (125) and Chris Drouin (141) advanced to the semifinals of their respective weight classes before placing fourth and sixth, respectively, to earn their first All-America honors. Robles, seeded 12th in the tournament, posted a 4-2 overall record and dropped a 3-1 decision to fourth-seeded Brandon Precin (Northwestern) in the third-place match. Drouin, seeded seventh, went 3-3 in the event and dropped a 4-0 decision to unseeded Alex Krom (Maryland) to place sixth. In the team standings, the Sun Devil duo combined to score 27.5 points to tie for 20th overall.
Individual notes: Robles
• Anthony Robles enters the 125 tournament as the No. 4 seed with a 28-2 record
• Returning All-American after placing fourth at the 2009 NCAA Championships
• Won the Pac-10 Championship, his second in a row
• Faces Ross Gitomer (18-13) of Virginia in the first round
• Robles and Gitomer have not met in college
• Robles is 26-4 all-time against this year's field, including 15-2 this year
• Robles has faced six of the other 11 national seeds this year and beat all but one (#1)
• Has already defeated five national seeds in 2010 tournament: #5, #9, #10, #11 and #12
More on Robles
Heading into the NCAA Championships, Robles has won 28 total matches on the year with 22 of those victories producing bonus points as they were something other than decisions. Of those 22 wins, Robles won five by major decision, seven by technical fall, eight by fall and added two more wins by forfeit. For his career, 63-of-79 wins have produced bonus points, including 15 majors, 22 techs, 21 falls and five forfeits. Robles, a two-time Pac-10 Champion, is currently on a 14-match winning streak and has not lost since the finals of the Reno Tournament of Champions when he dropped a 4-3 decision to Eric Morrill (Edinboro) in the final of the tournament. Morrill, along with No. 1 seed Angel Escobedo (Indiana) are the only two wrestlers to defeat Robles this year and both are in the tournament this weekend.
Individual notes: Ashmore
• Ben Ashmore enters the 133 tournament unseeded with an 18-12 record
• Finished third in the Pac-10 Championships
• Faces #7-seed Mike Grey (35-6) of Cornell in the first round
• Ashmore and Grey have not met in college
• Ashmore is 5-12 all-time against this year's field, including 5-11 this season
• Ashmore has faced 5-of-12 national seeds already this year (#4, #5, #8, #10, #12)
• Will face his sixth nationally-seeded wrestler of the year in opening round (#7)
Individual notes: Drouin
• Chris Drouin enters the 141 tournament unseeded with a 20-11 record
• Returning All-American after placing sixth at the 2009 NCAA Championships
• Finished fifth at the Pac-10 Championships, the first time he didn't reach the final
• Faces #8-seeded Alex Krom (20-5) of Maryland in the first round
• Krom defeated Drouin, 4-0, in the fifth-place match at the 2009 NCAA Championships
• Drouin is 23-16 all-time against this year's field, including 12-11 this year
• Drouin has already faced 8-of-12 national seeds this year and two others in his career
• Has defeated five of this year's 12 seeds, including #2, #4, #5, #9, #11, #12
• Upset then-#1 ranked Reece Humphrey (Ohio State), 3-1sv, at the National Duals
More on Drouin
Don't let Drouin's record against the field this year fool you as all 11 of his losses have come to national qualifiers with six of those losses to wrestlers seeded in the Top 9 for the tournament. Of his 20 victories, however, six have come against national Top 12 seeds in this year's event, including No. 2 Jamal Parks of Oklahoma State (4-1 decision), No. 4 Reece Humphrey of Ohio State (3-1sv when Humphrey was the top-ranked wrestler in the nation), No. 5 Zack Bailey of Oklahoma (3-1), No. 9 Levi Jones of Boise State (9-2 at the Pac-10 Championships to claim the final automatic berth at 141 from the conference), No. 11 Chris Diaz of Virginia Tech (5-1) and No. 12 Adin Duenas of CS Fullerton (7-5).
Individual notes: Edwards
• Te Edwards enters the 157 tournament unseeded with a 14-11 records
• Placed third in the Pac-10 Championships
• Faces Jake Kerr (11-9) of Iowa in the first round
• Edwards and Kerr have not met in college
• Edwards is 1-10 all-time against this year's field, including 0-2 vs. entrants at 165 pounds
• Has faced 5-of-12 national seeds this year, including close 6-5 loss to #1 J.P. O'Connor
• His lone win against the field came in third-place match at the Pac-10 Championships
More on Edwards
Last year, Edwards started the year redshirting his freshman season before joining the starting line up and going 1-6 in three matches at the Midlands and four duals. He then went 3-2 at the Pac-10 Championships to finish fifth. This year, seeded fourth at the Pac-10 meet, he placed third and won 14 total matches on the season, including five duals.
Individual notes: Nye
• Erik Nye enters the heavyweight tournament unseeded with a 21-13 records
• Finished sixth at the Pac-10 Championships
• Faces Eddie Bordas (32-7) of Rider in the first round
• Lost a 3-2 decision in the first tie-breaker to Bordas at the Las Vegas Invite (2nd round)
• Nye is 6-14 all-time against this year's field, including 6-12 this season
• Has face 4-of-12 national seeds this year, including #1 and #2
• Is 3-8 in 1-point decisions against the field this year
More on Nye
During the season, Nye posted a 21-13 overall record with 19 of those matches being decided by two points or less. Nye went 5-2 in two-point matches, 6-5 in one-point matches and also lost one match, 5-5, on tie-breaking criteria. He also saw two matches come to an end in sudden victory, one in the first set of tie-breakers and three in the second round of tie-breaking. On the flip side, Nye also went 7-1 in matches decided by fall with five of those wins coming in the first period of action.
The final NWCA/USA Today Division I Team Coaches Poll was released on Feb. 23with the Sun Devils remaining just outside the Top 25 as one of four teams receiving votes. Arizona State faced eight of the Top 25 teams in duals this season, including all three OSU's, with three of those teams predicted to earn trophies (Top 4) at the NCAA Championships this weekend. Those ranked teams include No. 2 Iowa State, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 14 Wisconsin, No. 15 Oregon State and No. 20 Cal Poly.
Amateur Wrestling News released its final individual rankings on March 10 with two Sun Devils earning mention in the Top 20 of their respective weight classes. Anthony Robles remained at No. 3, holding strong to the spot he has held for almost the entire year, while Chris Drouin slipped one spot to No. 16 in the final rankings.
With a 4-2-0 record against Pac-10 foes this year, the Sun Devils still hold a strong record all-time against schools in the conference. 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 86-23-1 record. When counting in the other schools that no longer compete, ASU is 127-23-1 against 17 teams during that time.
The Sun Devils traveled to Davis, Calif., to compete in the Pac-10 Wrestling Championships where they scored 104.5 points to place fourth overall as a team, up one place from last year's fifth-place showing. Eight of the Sun Devils advanced to the semifinals with one advancing to the final and five others reaching the third-place match. Anthony Robles won the title at 125 pounds with a 3-0 record while Te Edwards (157) and Kyle DeBerry (165) both placed third. Ben Ashmore (133), Eric Starks (174) and Jake Meredith (184) each advanced to the third-place match, but fell short of taking the bronze. Overall, no Sun Devils placed lower than seventh place.
Copper Satte showdowns
For the third year in a row, the Sun Devils will wrestled 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 Sun Devils won both meetings this year, including a 39-16 victory over Grand Canyon and 41-4 over Embry-Riddle. The dual with ERAU was to be in Prescott, but moved to Tempe because Nebraska was unable to come to Tempe. Has ASU traveled to face the Eagles, it would have been the program's second road dual against another Arizona school since 1993. In that 16 year span, the Sun Devils wrestled another Arizona school 13 times (13-0), defeating Embry-Riddle 10 times and Grand Canyon three times. Overall, the Sun Devils stand 57-9-0 all-time against teams from the state of Arizona, including 10-0-0 against ERAU and 3-0-0 against GCU, the lone remaining programs in the state.
At the Lone Star Duals (January 16), 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 recent win over Embry-Riddle, the Sun Devils are now 476-273-13 all-time as a varsity program.
The 41 points put up by the Sun Devils were the most since a 41-6 win at Grand Canyon on January 3, 2009, and came with seven wins by the Sun Devils that produced bonus points, including five that scored six points each for the team. Arizona State won by fall four times, including Anthony Robles at 125 (1:51), Ben Ashmore at 141 (1:50), Eric Starks at 184 (4:18) and Erik Nye at heavyweight (1:13) while Michael Hawkins won at 197 by forfeit. Vicente Varela and Kyle DeBerry added wins by major decision at 157 and 184, respectively, while Jake Hannaford added three more team points with his decision win at 149.
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.
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.
Three wins down under
Three former Sun Devil All-Americans traveled to the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia, over the weekend to compete in UFC 110 - Noguiera vs. Velasquez with all three winning their fights. In the undercards, C.B. Dollaway won a unanimous decision (29-28 on all three cards) to defeat Goran Reljic before Ryan Bader stopped Keith Jardine with a third round TKO at 2:10. In the main event, Cain Velasquez continued to show he is one of the top up-and-coming heavyweights as he scored a TKO of former PRIDE and UFC champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at 2:20 in the first round.
More away from the team
Here are some other things happening involving former members of the program:
• Former Sun Devil Danny Felix has spent much of the month of March competing internationally with Team USA as he was a part of two meets. First up, Felix helped the U.S. to a sixth place team finish at the Freestyle World Championships that were held in Moscow, Russia, on March 7. More recently, Felix competed in the Alexander Medved International in Minsk, Belarus, on March 12 and placed fifth at 55kg.
• Kelsey Campbell also was in action recently as she competed in the Klippan Lady Open in Klippan, Sweden, where she placed 10th at 59kg.
• Sherdog.com released its latest MMA rankings on March 10 with a pair of former Sun Devil All-American wrestlers making the grade. In the heavyweight division, Cain Velasquez is regarded as the No. 4 competitor while Ryan Bader makes the list for the first time in his career as he is No. 10 in the light heavyweight division.
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.
Next time out
The NCAA Wrestling Championships marks the final collegiate event of the 2009-10 season. Stay tuned over the summer as the Sun Devils compete in freestyle and Greco-Roman events.