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Las Vegas Invite awaits ASU wrestling

December 02, 2010

Sun Devil Mat Notes (pdf)

For the 26th time in 29 years, the Arizona State University wrestling team will venture north to Las Vegas, Nev., for the Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational being held Friday and Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. One of the top tournaments in the nation each year, the 29th installment of the event will feature 12 teams currently ranked in the national Top 25, including the No. 22 Sun Devils (3-1, 1-0 Pac-10), who are one of six Pac-10 teams in the event.

• ASU is currently ranked No. 22 (NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll)
• Robles (#3) and Jenkins (#2) remained in the national Top 3 this week
• ASU making its 26th all-time appearance in the Las Vegas Invitational
• 12-of-25 nationally ranked teams will compete in the tournament this weekend
• 82 nationally ranked individuals will compete, including five No. 1 wrestlers
• ASU’s trip this weekend is its first of two in December to the state of Nevada
• ASU won it’s Pac-10 opener with a 25-19 defeat of CS Fullerton last week
• ASU is 128-23-1 all-time against Pac-10 foes (82-23-1 against current members)
• Robles has 90 wins, needing 10 more to join the Century Club

The Sun Devils remained in the Top 25 this week in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll, sliding two positions to No. 22. Cornell remained the top-ranked team in the nation while fellow Pac-10 team Boise State (#6) and Oregon State (#13) are the lone conference schools ranked ahead of the Sun Devils.

Looking at the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, six of Arizona State’s opponents are currently ranked in the Top 25. Overall, ASU’s schedule includes duals with No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 8 Oklahoma (L, 32-7), No. 13 Oregon State, No. 14 Iowa State, No. 15 Nebraska and No. 25 American.

According to Amateur Wrestling News, only two individual Sun Devils carry national rankings this week, but both are highly regarded as Anthony Robles and Bubba Jenkins are among the Top 2 nationally in their weight classes. Robles remained at No. 3 in the 125-pound weight class while Jenkins moved up to No. 2 this week after upsetting No. 1 Adam Hall (Boise State) in the NWCA All-Star Classic presented by The Marines.

The 2009 Las Vegas Invitational will be the 29th edition of the tournament with ASU making its 25th all-time appearance in the event, which includes every tournament held since the 1985 event. In that time, the Sun Devils have won the event three times, including the 1987, 1989 and 1992 tournaments, while finishing as the runner-up twice (1988, 1997). Overall, Arizona State has placed among the Top 5 16 times and among the Top 10 on 21 different occasions. The Sun Devils individually will be looking to capture a crown with the last individual winner coming in 2006 when current assistant coach Brian Stith won the 157 title. Anthony Robles was close last year as he reached the final at 125 pounds and took second overall.

Thirty-six teams are scheduled to compete in the 29th Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational this weekend, including 30 teams from the NCAA Division I level. Of those 30 Division I teams, 12 are ranked, including: No. 1 Cornell, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 6 Boise State, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 9 Illinois, No. 10 Virginia Tech, No. 11 Central Michigan, No. 13 Oregon State, No. 19 Ohio State, No. 21 Michigan, No. 22 ASU and No. 23 Purdue. In the smaller divisions, five of those six teams entered are ranked in their respective national polls, including No. 9 Grand Canyon and No. 18 San Francisco State (NCAA Division II); No. 9 Dickinson State (NAIA); and No. 2 North Idaho and No. 20 Western Wyoming (NJCAA).

All told, 107 individuals enter the Las Vegas Invitational with national rankings, including 82 wrestlers in the Top 20 of the NCAA Division I rankings. According to the November 30 release of the Amateur Wrestling News rankings, five top-ranked individuals will be in the tournament, including: Zach Bailey (Oklahoma, 141); Kyle Dake (Cornell, 149); Andrew Howe (Wisconsin, 165); Mack Lewnes (Cornell, 174); and Kirk Smith (Boise State, 184). While each of the 10 weight classes has at least four nationally ranked wrestlers set to compete, the toughest weights look to be 133, 141 and 157, with 12, 10 and nine ranked wrestlers, respectively. At 133, only No. 1, No. 8, No. 14 and No. 15 are missing from the Top 15 while 141 features No. 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 15. At 157, ASU’s Bubba Jenkins leads the field as the No. 2 wrestler in the nation, but will have to contend with No. 3, 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 19 in the tournament as well. With all these ranked individuals, their should be a lot of quality matches on the weekend.

At the 2009 Las Vegas Invitational, Anthony Robles led the way for the Sun Devils as he placed second at 125 pounds (L, 4-2 in the final) to help the team finish 11th overall in the 44-team field. Three other Sun Devils placed in the Top 8 of their respective weight classes, including Ben Ashmore (eighth at 133), Chris Drouin (sixth at 141) and Erik Nye (sixth at heavyweight).

With their trip to the Las Vegas Invitational this weekend, the Sun Devils will be heading to the state of Nevada for the first of two tournaments this month. On December 19, the Sun Devils will return to the Silver State as the take part in the Reno Tournament of Champions.

Arizona State faced visiting CS Fullerton last Saturday night in the Sun Devils’ home Pac-10 Conference opener and walked away with a 25-19 victory over the Titans. The Sun Devils opened with four wins in a row, including a major decision by Bubba Jenkins at 157, a pin by Te Edwards at 165, a technical fall by Eric Starks at 174 and a decision by Jake Meredith at 184. After two losses (forfeit, decision), the two teams traded wins, including Anthony Robles winning by technical fall at 125 and Kalin Goodsite winning by decision at 141.

Just as Eric Starks avenged a dual loss to Victor Carazo (Grand Canyon) by defeating him in the final of the Fullerton Open at 174 pounds, Jake Meredith exacted a bit of revenge as well last week in a dual with CS Fullerton. At the Fullerton Open, Meredith reached the final and faced Todd Noel (CSUF) where he fell to the Titan, 5-3, to take second place. One week later, Meredith came out on top with a 5-0 decision to move to 1-0 in Pac-10 action, which will help with his seeding at the Pac-10 Championships later this season.

Heading into the Las Vegas Invitational, the Sun Devils have won 21 matches by fall with five of those wins coming in one minute or less while 15-of-21 falls have occurred in the first period of action. Ten of the Sun Devil falls also have come in less than two minutes. So far this year, Luke Ashmore (149) has the fastest fall recorded with his pin in 41 seconds at the Fullerton Open while David Prado (133) is right behind him at 0:47. Michael Hawkins has a pair of sub-one minute pins, including times of 0:53 and 0:59, while Jake Meredith closes out the one-minute pinners with a fall of 1:00.

Heading into his senior campaign, Anthony Robles holds a career record of 90-23 and needs 10 wins to become the 23rd different Sun Devil to break the century mark. Currently ranked 25th all-time in career wins at Arizona State, Robles will need 13 wins (103 total) to break into the Top 20 as he will tie with three others for 19th place, including current head coach Shawn Charles. With his 90 wins, Robles is currently tied for 25th all-time on the ASU wins list with Marco Sanchez.

Since joining the Pac-10 Conference in time for the 1978-79 season, the Sun Devils have built a 29-4-1 all-time record in their first conference dual of the season. Arizona State is 13-0-1 in its last 14 Pac-10 openers with its last loss coming during the 1996-97 season in a 21-18 set back to CS Bakersfield in Tempe. ASU has won nine of its last 11 home Pac-10 openers including the 25-19 defeat of CS Fullerton last week.

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 six others still competing (including Boise State, Cal Poly, CS Bakersfield, CS Fullerton, Oregon State and Stanford). Against current members of the Pac-10, ASU holds an 82-23-1 all-time record and stands 128-23-1 all-time when including all 17 teams that are/have been in the Pac-10.

In the 32 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 48 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.

Although the results won’t count toward their season and career records, both Anthony Robles and Bubba Jenkins dominated at the 45th NWCA All-Star Classic in Fresno, Calif., as the Sun Devil posted the only two wins by something other than a decision. First up was No. 3 Robles, who scored a 20-2 technical fall over No. 4 Zach Sanders (Minnesota) at 125 pounds. Then, Jenkins took to the mat at 157 pounds as the No. 6 Sun Devil upset No. 1 Adam Hall (Boise State) with a 12-4 major decision. Only three other matches contested saw a wrestler win by four or more points at the annual exhibition event.

At the Fullerton Open on Saturday, the Sun Devils sent three individuals to the finals of their respective weight classes with Eric Starks winning the title at 174 pounds, giving him his first tournament crown in his collegiate career. Starks had to battle back from an early deficit against Victor Carazo (Grand Canyon) and eventually tied the score at 6-6 to force overtime. In the extra minute of action, Starks shot in low to hook an ankle before moving his way up to secure both legs and the takedown to score two points and win the match while also avenging a 3-1 loss to Carazo in a dual last week in Phoenix.

With the two wins on the opening day of the season, the Sun Devils improved to 64-9-0 all-time against teams from the state of Arizona and extended their winning streak to 44 in a row in the process. The last time Arizona State lost to a fellow Copper State school came on February 13, 1973, when visiting Arizona won, 18-17. The Sun Devils also improved to 28-6-0 all-time in road duals inside the state after winning their 19th and 20th in a row.

With their 29-8 victory at Grand Canyon Saturday morning, the Sun Devils improved to 35-14-0 all-time in their first dual of the season. Following a 2-0 record on the road, the Sun Devils now turn their attention to their first home dual of the year with No. 8 Oklahoma in town. The Sun Devils are 32-16-0 all-time in their first home dual of the season and have won four in a row. The dual with the Sooners will mark the third time Arizona State has faced OU in its home opener with the Sooners winning the previous two instances, 32-7 (Dec. 3, 1964) and 23-21 (Dec. 4, 1985).

Five individuals are entering their final collegiate seasons, including local standout Anthony Robles, who has earned a pair of All-American honors after a solid career at nearby Mesa High School. The remaining seniors include Ben Ashmore, Bubba Jenkins, Orlando Jimenez and Lucas Mariacher. All five will be honored before the team’s dual with Cal Poly on January 30 (2:00 p.m.)

Several weeks ago, head coach Shawn Charles rounded out his coaching staff with the addition of Ben Askren as an assistant coach. The 2008 Olympian and two-time NCAA finalist (at Missouri), who served as the program’s Director of Operations last year, will assist with day-to-day operations once again while also working with technique on the mat with the Sun Devils. He joins Brian Stith (fourth year) as the program’s assistant coaches this season.

In early November, 17 members of the program entered the Embry-Riddle Collegiate Championships in Prescott as unattached competitors with 12 returning the Valley of the Sun with Top 5 finishes. Three Sun Devils reached the final and placed second, including Josh Sandoval (125), Kevin Radford (184) and Levi Cooper (285). Kalin Goodsite (141) placed third while David Prado (133), Joel Smith (149), Kevin Maelfeyt (157), Wesley Moore (184) and Michael Hawkins (285) all finished fourth. Dalton Miller (125), Derek Felton (165) and Bobby Bowman (174) also finished fifth in their weight classes.

On October 23, a new UFC World Heavyweight Champion was crowned and that champion is former Sun Devil All-American Cain Velasquez. The first fighting champion of Mexican heritage, Velasquez dispatched of former champion Brock Lesnar with a first round TKO to take the belt at UFC 121 in Anaheim, Calif. Velasquez is now the is the fourth different Sun Devil wrestler to hold a belt in the UFC.

Arizona State will be off from competition for two weeks as the Sun Devils take care of their academic studies with finals in the coming weeks. The Sun Devils will return to the mats on December 19 in Reno, Nev., at the Reno Tournament of Champions.