Wrestling heads to Oklahoma for first true road trip
The Arizona State University wrestling team will face its first true road test of the season this weekend as the team heads to Oklahoma to face top-ranked Oklahoma State University in Stillwater on Friday evening and #11 Oklahoma on Norman on Sunday afternoon. Friday’s dual against the Cowboys (6-0, 1-0 Big 12) will be the first time the Sun Devils have squared of against a top-ranked team since 2008, when the team fell 41-0 to #1 Iowa. Friday’s dual is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. CST and live play-by-play will be available by visiting the wrestling page at www.okstate.com. Sunday’s dual against the Sooners (8-2, 2-1 Big 12) will begin at 2 p.m. CST at McCasland Field House.
• ASU remains unranked on the season
• The Sun Devils have not faced a #1-ranked team since 2008, a 41-0 defeat to Iowa
• Levi Cooper leads the team with 20 victories on the season and just two dual losses
• Levi Cooper upset the top-ranked returning NCAA Champion in Zach Rey of Lehigh at the Northeast Duals
• Head Coach Shawn Charles is in his third season as head coach
• Redshirt freshman Shane McGough has logged nine of his 14 victories this year with bonus points (6 falls, 3 majors)
• Arizona State is a combined 18-63-1 against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma
• The Sun Devils return one All-American this season in heavyweight Levi Cooper
• Cooper (HWT) is the only Sun Devil ranked by all of the major ranking services
• Fourteen Sun Devils have experienced their first collegiate action this season, representing the mass majority of competitors thus far
• True freshman Rush Hall will represent the 15th member of that above list as he is slated to start at 157 pounds this weekend
IN THE RANKINGS - TEAM
The Sun Devils entered the season unranked for the first time since the 2008-09 season. This comes despite finishing sixth at the NCAA Championships last year, though the loss of national champions Anthony Robles and Bubba Jenkins and the very young team the Sun Devils will be fielding are likely to blame for their omittance. The team did not receive any votes in the most recent NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll.
There will be a live play-by-play available for the Oklahoma State dual on Friday evening by visiting the wrestling page on www.okstate.com. A live stream on Sunday’s Oklahoma dual will be available at www.soonersports.com/allaccess
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
Seven opponents on ASU’s 2011-12 schedule can be found within the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll that was released earlier this week, top-ranked Oklahoma State, which Arizona State will compete against on Friday before its dual against #11 Oklahoma on Sunday. Arizona State fell to #12 Lehigh, #23 Binghamton, #14 Nebraska, #15 Oregon State and #25 Old Dominion earlier this season, though they did beat Penn who, while unranked now, was #20 at the time.
IN THE RANKINGS - INDIVIDUAL
Returning All-American Levi Cooper is the only Sun Devil consistently ranked by all of the major ranking services, and did himself a huge favor in upsetting former No. 1 Zach Rey at the Northeast Duals. The victory rocketed Cooper from the mid-teens in most rankings to the top-10 across the board, peaking at No. 4 by The Open Mat. Cooper was won three of his last four duals and has climbed back within the top-10 in most ranking services after falling out for a couple weeks, reaching #9 in the Amateur Wrestling News, The Open Mat and Intermat rankings.
HIT THE ROAD, JACK
This weekend’s duals will mark the first true road tests for the Sun Devils this season. Any other time ASU has left Tempe to compete this season it has either been at a tournament or at a neutral site.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION: Oklahoma State
The top-ranked Cowboys are among the favorites to win the NCAA Championships this year and solidified that sentiment after defeating then-No. 1 Iowa in Iowa City two weeks ago in a dramatic dual that was decided by criteria. The Hawkeyes had won 84 consecutive duals before OSU took them down. Nine of OSU’s probably starters currently rank in the top-18 nationally, according to Amateur Wrestling News, and four are within the top-five at their respective weight classes. OSU leads the all-time series with a 37-4-0 record against the Sun Devils and has never lost to ASU in Stillwater. The Sun Devils fell, 40-4, against Oklahoma State in Tempe last season.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION: Oklahoma
The #11 Sooners have been among the top 10-15 teams in the country all season and have eight wrestlers currently ranked in the top-20 nationally. Oklahoma has posted an 8-2 record on the season and have won four of their past five duals. The Sooners are 26-14-1 against the Sun Devils and winners of the past eight contests, including a 32-7 defeat of ASU in Tempe last year.
A LOOK BACK: Virginia Duals
ASU lost a couple of close duals and was knocked out in the first round of the consolation bracket at the 32nd Virginia Duals in Hampton, Va. ASU opened the competition against the seventh-seeded Old Dominion Friars in a back-and-forth affair that saw ASU jump out to an early lead before ODU ripped off a streak of four consecutive wins. ASU made it interesting on a Tommy Burriel major at 197 pounds to bring the score to 20-16 but Levi Cooper was unable to get one two extra points in the heavyweight bout, despite winning 6-0, and ASU fell 20-19. Saturday’s dual against North Dakota State was more of the same with ASU jumping to an early lead before a couple bonus-point victories for the Bison in the middleweights dropped ASU too far behind to make up the distance as NDSU came away victorious 23-19.