Wrestling set to host intrastate rival Grand Canyon
Following a tough road swing through Oklahoma that resulted in a pair of losses to nationally ranked foes, the No. 20 Arizona State University wrestling team will look to get back to its winning ways this weekend in its home opener as the Sun Devils welcome the Antelopes of nearby Grand Canyon University on Sunday. ASU and GCU -- an NCAA Division II school in Phoenix -- will meet inside Wells Fargo Arena at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
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 is set to take place this Sunday at 2 p.m. with Grand Canyon visiting the Sun Devils while the second dual will be held January 24 at 3 p.m. when the Sun Devils travel north to Prescott 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 10 times (11-0), defeating Embry-Riddle nine times and Grand Canyon twice. Overall, the Sun Devils stand 55-9-0 all-time against teams from the state of Arizona, including 9-0-0 against ERAU and 2-0-0 against GCU, the lone remaining programs in the state.
After opening their season with two wins on the road in California, the Sun Devils dropped a pair of duals on the road in Oklahoma, falling 21-9 at No. 4 Oklahoma State and 24-11 at No. 12 Oklahoma over the weekend. Despite the losses, the Sun Devils hung tough throughout as all 10 matches at OSU were decisions, including three that were decided by two points and three others decided by three points. In the dual with the Sooners, only two matches produced bonus points (one for each side) with the remaining eight matches ending in decision, including two, one-point endings and three, two-point decisions.
While eight Sun Devils entered the weekend with undefeated records, only two came out of the Midwest road swing with zero losses on the year as both No. 3 Anthony Robles (125) and No. 5 Chris Drouin (141) went 2-0 on the weekend.
TAKING DOWN THE BEST
Chris Drouin's weekend included a pair of nationally ranked opponents with the Sun Devil junior winning both matches. First up in Stillwater, Drouin used an early takedown in the first period to push himself to a 4-1 victory over No. 11 Jamal Parks. Then, on Sunday, Drouin and No. 17 Zack Bailey met with Drouin's early takedown also standing as the difference as the 2009 All-American won by a 3-1 score.
Once again this year, opponents are finding it difficult to score on Anthony Robles. Through four matches, Robles has won three technical falls and one decision, a 2-0 defeat of No. 8 Chris Notte of Oklahoma State. Combined this year, Robles has outscored his opponents, 60-8 and has shut out his last two foes, including the 2-0 defeat of Notte and a 16-0 technical fall over Justin Forrest of Oklahoma. Robles' previous wins were technical falls of 20-3 and 22-5 on the road at UC Davis and CS Fullerton, respectively.
ON THE SCENE
Ben Ashmore has put together a solid opening to the season as the junior stands 3-1 and is currently ranked No. 20 in the nation according to Amateur Wrestling News (Nov. 24). Ashmore opened the year with a win by forfeit at UC Davis and followed that with a pin of Eddie Garcia of CS Fullerton in 6:15. He nearly knocked off No. 11 Jordan Oliver, instead falling in a tough 4-2 overtime decision in his return to Stillwater. He rebounded on Sunday with a 7-5 decision over Alex Ekstrom of Oklahoma.
The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) released its coaches' team rankings once again on Tuesday with Sun Devils remaining in the No. 20 position for the third week in a row. Five of ASU's 2009-10 opponents are also currently members of the national Top 25 rankings, including No. 2 Iowa State, No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Nebraska, No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 25 Cal Poly. Oregon State also is on the list as receiving votes.
According to the latest Amateur Wrestling News Individual Rankings (Nov. 24), three Sun Devils are currently members of the national Top 20 with all three coming in the lightest weights. Anthony Robles remained No. 3 at 125 pounds while Chris Drouin remained No. 5 at 141 pounds. At 133 pounds, Ben Ashmore is the newest addition to the rankings for the Sun Devils as he enters the list this week at No. 20.
IN THE SERIES: GRAND CANYON
The Sun Devils hold a 2-0-0 advantage in the all-time series with the Antelopes after winning each of the last two duals after Grand Canyon started their program. The Sun Devils are 1-0-0 all-time at home after winning the first meeting in the series, 42-10, in Tempe. In the last meeting, the Sun Devils traveled into Phoenix to Antelope Gym and recorded a 41-6 defeat of the host Antelopes on January 3, 2009.
LAST TIME: ASU VS. GCU
The Sun Devils traveled to Phoenix and won 9-of-10 matches to cruise to a 41-6 defeat of Grand Canyon in a dual held in Antelope Gym on January 3, 2009. The dual opened at 157 pounds with the Sun Devils winning the first nine matches in a row, including seven that produced bonus points. Michael Swigart (157), Kyle DeBerry (165) and Jake Cranford (197) all won by major decision; Chris Drouin (141) won by technical fall; Jake Meredith (184) won by fall in 1:44 and both Imanibom Etukeren (285) and Anthony Robles (125) each won by forfeit. Other winners for the Sun Devils included Eric Starks (174) and Angel Alegre (133).
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.
This weekend, the Sun Devils will be playing host to Grand Canyon (Nov. 29, 2 p.m.) inside Wells Fargo Arena in their first of five home duals this year. 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.
ONE YEAR OLDER
Last year, the Sun Devils had a starting line-up much of the season that consisted of two sophomores, two juniors, three true freshmen and three redshirt freshmen. With eight of the 10 in just their first or second seasons, the Sun Devils had one of the youngest lineups in the nation. This year, however, those young wrestlers enter the season with more experience and a line-up that has just two freshmen, Michael Hawkins (redshirt freshman) and Anthony Pike (true freshman) at 197.
MAKING HIS DEBUT
Just the sixth head coach in the 47-year history of the program, former Sun Devil All-American Shawn Charles made his debut on the sideline over the weekend and became the fourth coach in a row to win his first dual with the Sun Devils as Arizona State downed host UC Davis, 39-6. The past three coaches each posted victories in their debuts, including a 30-15 win at CS Bakersfield for Bobby Douglas (1974-75 season), a 23-15 win at Clarion for Lee Roy Smith (1992-93) and a 40-6 home win for Thom Ortiz against CS Fullerton (2001-02). Ted Bredehoft, following one forfeit win and one forfeit loss, led his team to victory with a 38-0 blanking of Cal Poly Pomona (1962-63) to also collect a win in his first dual in which wrestling took place. The only coach that did not register a victory in his first dual was John Wadas, who saw his Sun Devils fall at home to Utah, 23-11, to open the 1971-72 season.
LIFTING THE LID
Arizona State 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 2-0 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 84-21-1 record. When counting in the other schools that no longer compete, ASU is 125-21-1 against 17 teams during their time as members of 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 the 1979 championships.
BACK FOR MORE
Twenty-five wrestlers return to the roster once again this season, including nine of the 10 men that competed at the Pac-10 Championships. The Sun Devils return three Pac-10 finalists in Anthony Robles (125 champion), Chris Drouin (141 runner-up) and Eric Starks (174 runner-up) with both Robles and Drouin coming off an All-American season as the duo placed fourth and sixth, respectively, at the NCAA Championships. Other starters returning include David Prado (133), Vicente Varela (149), Te Edwards (157), Kyle DeBerry (165), Jake Meredith (184) and Imanibom Etukeren (285). Several others that started at various points in the season are also back this season, including Erik Nye (285), Michael SwigartJerrad Trulson (157). In all, the returnees include four seniors, nine juniors, nine sophomores and two redshirt freshmen. (157) and
HELLO! MY NAME IS...
The program also has welcomed eight new wrestlers to the fold with six coming to Tempe as true freshmen and two in their sophomore year at Arizona State. The newcomers include Carlos Castro (141, Tucson, Ariz./Amphi HS), Sergio Cortez (165, Moorpark, Calif./Royal HS), Tai FukumotoKalin Goodsite (133, Riverside, Calif./Martin Luther King HS), Orson Lor (165, Tucson, Ariz./Amphi HS), Anthony Pike (197, Tucson, Ariz./Sunnyside HS), Jared Stephens (133, Westland, Mich./Westland John Glenn HS) and Daniel Walker (133, Phoenix, Ariz./Shadow Mountain HS). (149, Seattle, Wash./Lakeside HS),
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
Not only did eight new wrestlers join the program this season, but so did three staff members, including Bryan Snyder (head assistant coach), Raymond Jordan (volunteer coach) and Ben Askren (director of operations).
• Snyder was a four-time All-American (157) for Nebraska and was a two-time national runner-up. A four-time Big XII Champion and three-time NWCA All-Star Classic selection, Snyder went 136-11 with a 69-4 dual record in his days in Lincoln. He was a four-time NWCA All-Academic and Academic All-Big XII selection before earning two degrees from NU in 2002 (Sociology, Communication Studies).
• Jordan was a two-time All-American at Missouri, earning the honors at 174 (2009) and 184 (2008) to become just the fourth Tiger to earn All-America honors at two different weights. A four-time NCAA qualifier and 2007 Big XII Champion (174), Jordan went 123-29 in his career before earning a degree in Personal Finance Planning from MU in 2008.
• Askren, a U.S. Olympian at the 2008 Beijing Games, was a four-time NCAA All-American, four-time finalist and two-time NCAA Champion for Missouri. A two-time Dan Hodge Award winner, the three-time Big XII Champion went 153-7 in his career, won an NCAA record 18-consecutive matches by first-period pin and won 93 matches by pin in his career. Askren was a four-time NWCA All-Academic honoree and graduated from MU in 2007.
With their performances in St. Louis, Robles and Drouin both earned All-America honors to become the 63rd and 64th national honorees in the program's history. Overall, the Sun Devil program has collected 104 total All-America honors with four individual earning four honors in their careers, including current head coach Shawn Charles, the first Sun Devil in program history to do so. Robles and Drouin will now look to become the 31st and 32nd Sun Devils to earn multiple All-America honors in a career, which also includes current assistant coach Brian Stith, who was a two-time honoree.
NEXT TIME OUT
The Sun Devils will compete in their first tournament action of the season next weekend as they will travel to Primm, Nev., for the 2009 Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational on Friday and Saturday, December 4-5.