Skip to main content

Wrestling travels to Grand Canyon, hosts CS Bakersfield

January 01, 2009

Coming off a 19th-place finish at the Midlands Championships and a day off to ring in the new year, the Arizona State University wrestling team will jump back into dual competition this weekend with a pair of duals in the Valley of the Sun. Following three tournaments in a row, the Sun Devils (3-2, 2-0 Pac-10) will first travel down the road into Phoenix for a 5 p.m. dual Saturday at Grand Canyon (0-5) before playing host to Pac-10 foe CS Bakersfield () at 6 p.m. Sunday inside Wells Fargo Arena.

Internet coverage will be available for both duals this weekend as Arizona State's duals with Grand Canyon and CS Bakersfield can be followed via live stats at Also, for the Saturday dual with the Antelopes, GCU will be providing live streaming video. To access the video coverage, go to: (cost is $7).

When the Sun Devils face the Antelopes on Saturday evening inside Antelope Gym on the Grand Canyon campus in Phoenix, it will mark the first time in just over 15 years that Arizona State has wrestled another Arizona school on their mats. The last time ASU was the visitor against another Copper State opponent came on December 17, 1993, when the Sun Devils blanked host Phoenix College, 40-0.

For the second 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 Sun Devils have already met and defeated Embry-Riddle, 38-6, and will now take on Grand Canyon on Saturday in the program's first road dual against another Arizona school since 1993. In that 15 year span, the Sun Devils have wrestled another Arizona school 10 times (10-0), defeating Embry-Riddle nine times and Grand Canyon once. Overall, the Sun Devils stand 54-9-0 all-time against teams from the state of Arizona, including 9-0-0 against ERAU and 1-0-0 against GCU, the lone remaining programs in the state.

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 41-18-0. Ortiz' teams also have been nearly perfect against Pac-10 foes as the Sun Devils stand 25-3-0 against league opponents after going 1-2 last year. ASU is 3-0 overall at home this year and 2-0 against Pac-10 foes.

The Sun Devils, who are 2-0 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 111-16-1 against 13 different schools. Of those 13 teams, eight are still competing in the Pac-10 Conference with the Sun Devils holding a 78-16-1 record against those teams.

Arizona State holds a 43-9-0 record against Pac-10 foes since Thom Ortiz took over the program eight years ago, including a 25-3-0 home record and an 18-6-0 road mark after opening the conference slate with home wins over UC Davis and Portland State.

The Antelopes are 0-5 on the year and, after a 0-24-1 record in their first year last year, are still in search of their first victory in program history. Head Coach R.C. LaHaye's 'Lopes have a few of his top wrestlers on the sideline this week, but will have a pair of wrestlers with over .500 records, including former Sun Devil Alex Contreras (7-6 at 125) and Jack Porter (9-7 at 165). Porter has placed third overall at both the Embry-Riddle and Cal Baptist Opens earlier this season and also has posted a win over a Sun Devil with his 6-2 defeat of Sal Musto.

Arizona State leads the all-time series, 1-0-0, after securing a 42-10 victory last year in Tempe. A depleted roster for GCU last year gave ASU all seven of its wins by forfeit while the 'Lopes won the three bouts that were contested, including Jack Porter winning a 12-4 major decision at 174 pounds.

Head Coach T.J. Kerr, in his 25th season at CSUB, has led his Roadrunners to a 3-3 overall record and a 2-0 mark in Pac-10 competition with home wins over Stanford and Portland State. The ninth-place finishers at the Southern Scuffle, CSUB's Brandon Halsey, ranked No. 16 nationally, won the 197 title and is 11-1 on the year. Mitch Monteiro (285) and Brandon Zoetewey (125) also are ranked, standing seventh and 12th, respectively.

Arizona State leads the all-time series, 20-8-1, and stands 8-4-1 in home duals, including winning each of the last four in Tempe. CS Bakersfield snapped ASU's three-dual winning streak with a 22-13 decision in Bakersfield, Calif., last year while the Sun Devils won the last meeting in Tempe with a slim 19-18 decision during the 2006-07 season.

Three bouts this weekend with CS Bakersfield could feature the top-ranked wrestler in the Pac-10 at that weight class as well as one battle featuring No. 1 vs. No. 2. The three top-ranked wrestlers in the December 20 rankings are Sun Devils Anthony Robles (125) and Chris DrouinKyle DeBerry (165) vs. No. 5 Joey Granata and No. 6 Eric Starks (174) vs. No. 3 Jason Points. (141) and Roadrunner Mitch Monteiro (285). The battle of the Top 2 would come at 141 with Drouin facing second-ranked Elijah Nacita. Based on ASU's projected lineup, there are two other ranked battles that could take place: No. 6

Two bouts in the CSUB dual that could take place would be rematches from earlier in the season, including the third installment of a series at 165 pounds. Earlier this year, Kyle DeBerry won his bout with CSUB's Joey Granata, 12-6, in the consolation rounds of the Las Vegas Invitational, but dropped an 8-4 decision in the championship second round at the Reno Tournament of Champions two weeks later. The other rematch could come at 125 pounds where No. 8 Anthony Robles scored an 18-0 technical fall victory over No. 18 Brandon Zoetewey in the consolation semifinals of the Vegas tournament.

Arizona State scored 27 points and finished 19th overall in the team standings (17th among collegiate teams) on the strength of Anthony RoblesChris Drouin, who was unseeded at 141, was one victory shy of placing with his lone losses coming to the No. 1 and No. 3-ranked wrestlers in the nation. Although competing unattached from the team, Ben Ashmore fared well as he placed fifth at 125 pounds with seven victories, including a 3-2 decision over Robles. placing seventh at 125 pounds.

With three more victories by technical fall at the Midlands, Anthony Robles now has seven on the season, tying him for second in the nation among NCAA Division I competitors. So far this season, Oklahoma's Will Rowe (149) has won eight bouts by tech fall while both Robles (125) and Jake Patacsil (149) of Purdue are tied for second with seven.

While several Sun Devils have won bouts with bonus-point scores, Anthony Robles is far and away leading the team once again this year as he has scored 81 points already this year (Chris Drouin is second with 35). Robles has seven wins by technical fall, six by fall, one major decision and one forfeit victory.

InterMat released its Division I national team and individual rankings on December 23 with both Chris Drouin (No. 5 at 141) and Anthony Robles (No. 8 at 125) remaining at their same rankings from the week before. The team, not ranked in the overall poll, remained No. 25 in the tournament strength index rankings.

According to this week's USA Today/InterMat/NWCA national team and individual rankings (December 23), the Sun Devils have duals remaining against two nationally ranked foes in No. 7 Minnesota and No. 11 Oklahoma, but also will see many of the top teams at the Midlands this week. Those teams scheduled to compete at the Midlands include current No. 1 Iowa, No. 2 Iowa State, No. 5 Missouri, No. 8 Illinois, No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 12 Central Michigan, No. 18 Indiana, No. 20 Northwestern, No. 21 Old Dominion, No. 22 Northern Iowa, No. 23 Penn and No. 25 Pitt.

The coaches at CS Fullerton (hosts for the 2009 Pac-10 Championships) have begun releasing Pac-10 individual rankings this month with Anthony Robles (125) and Chris Drouin (141) both holding the top spots in their respective weight classes. Both Thor Moen (197) and Erik Nye (285) are ranked fifth with all other Sun Devils ranked sixth or lower in the December 20 release.

All five of Arizona State's wins by fall at the Reno Tournament of Champions were recorded in the first period of action and all five rank among the Top 10 fastest of the season, ranking No. 5-No. 9. Vicente Varela (1:17 at 149), Chris Drouin (1:28 at 141) and Jake Cranford (1:40 at 197) each picked up falls within the first two minutes of action while Anthony Robles (2:13 at 125) and Jake Meredith (2:53 at 184) won by fall after the two-minute mark. Robles' fall placed him on the Top 10 list for the third time this year, adding to his wins at 32 seconds (fastest of the year for ASU) and 1:10 (No. 4) from Las Vegas. Robles and Cranford bumped Meredith's fall off the Top 10 list as Cranford record a second win by fall in 1:40 (did the same at Reno) to tie the seventh fastest while Robles took over the 10th position with his fall victory in 2:30 at the Midlands.

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 at the Midlands Championships. Te Edwards competed at 157 pounds and went 1-2 in his first action in uniform for the Sun Devils, marking the 11th different debut of the season. So far this season, Edwards is the third true freshman to compete, joining Eric Starks and Jake Meredith. Seven redshirt freshman have debuted this year, including 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). For this year's team to join that list, they will have to win five more duals inside Wells Fargo Arena, including three Pac-10 duals and a pair of meetings with Top 20 teams in No. 8 Minnesota and No. 20 Oklahoma.

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.

Twenty-five wrestlers from the 2007-08 roster return this year and are led by starters Anthony Robles (125), Orlando Jimenez (133) and Chris Drouin (141) along with several veterans that have moved up to a starting position, including Thor Moen (197) and Jake Cranford (184). Several freshman that redshirted last year also figure prominently into the starting line-up, including Vicente Varela (149), Michael Swigart (157) and Kyle DeBerry (165).

The program welcomed 11 new members to the team this fall, including two immediate starters, one possible starter and several others with impressive credentials. Heavyweight Erik Nye (2x undefeated California junior college champion) and Eric Starks (174; 2x state placer in California) both look to have the edge in the starting line-up while Eric Starks (184; 2x Washington state champion) also could see action. Ben Ashmore, a four-time Texas state champion, could see action at 125 after transferring from Oklahoma State while true freshmen Te EdwardsMichael Hawkins (285) will add depth to a young, but talented roster. (157) and

The coaching staff also made an addition as Al Fuentes was brought on to replace Eric Larkin, who left to pursue other career aspirations. A two-time NAIA All-American at 142 pounds (1997 and 1998) for Findlay (Ohio), Fuentes also was a three-time Academic All-American and will play a vital role in helping the program both on and off the mats. Like head coach Thom Ortiz, Fuentes was a member of a national championship team as UF captured the 1995 NAIA Championship title.

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.

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 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.

Following the dual with CS Bakersfield, the Sun Devils will not compete until two weeks later when they play host to Oklahoma in a 2 p.m. dual inside Wells Fargo Arena on January 18.