Wrestling opens season strong in Michigan
The Arizona State University wrestling team opened its 2011-12 campaign on Saturday as the team competed at the Eastern Michigan Open in Ypsilanti, Mich. Several Sun Devils were able to make it to the third-place matchups in what was an overall productive day for the youthful squad.
Redshirt junior Levi Cooper entered the day as the team’s top returner, earning All-America honors last year and being ranked in the top-10 in most ranking services coming into the season. The heavyweight got the season off on a nice note, pinning Purdue’s Adam Wall in 2:22 but suffered a setback in his second match of the day, losing a decision to Eastern Michigan’s Wes Schroeder, 8-4, in the quarterfinals to drop down to the consolation bracket.
Unfazed, Cooper ripped off three victories – one by major decision - to advance to the consolation final against Adam Chalfant where he utilized another major decision, 9-0, to win the consolation final and finish third overall.
The biggest question mark entering the day may have been to see how the youth on the ASU roster would fare. Of the probable starters heading into the weekend, eight are redshirt freshmen. Several of the youngsters answered the call on Saturday, headed by Tommy Burriel.
Burriel, competing at 197 pounds, got the year started in similar fashion to Cooper as he pinned his first opponent, Kent State’s Keith Witt, in 4:13. Cooper then went on to earn the decision over Eastern Michigan’s Nick Whitenburg, 11-4 to advance to the semifinals. There, Burriel attempted to upset #5 Matt Powless of Indiana, fell just short in the 11-8 decision to the Hoosier All-American and dropped down to the consolation bracket.
Burriel won by decision against Michigan’s Nick McDiarmid to advance to the consolation final where he squared off against No. 19 Tyler Dickenson of Michigan State. There, Burriel scored his first upset of the season as Dickenson was forced to withdraw due to injury, giving Burriel the third-place finish.
Fellow redshirt freshman Nathan Hoffer also advanced to the consolation final at 141 pounds, going down by pin in 2:00 against Indiana’s Matt Ortega but still taking fourth in his collegiate debut. Hoffer did log four victories on the day, including two by pin in the consolation bracket.
In total, seven redshirt freshman earned their first career victories on Saturday in their collegiate debuts.
The Sun Devils will be back in action next weekend in their home opening as they square off in a double dual against in-state squads from Embry-Riddle and Grand Canyon University on Sunday, Nov. 13 beginning at 2 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.