Wrestling to send four to NCAA Championships


The Arizona State University wrestling team will send four student-athletes to the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Mo., March 15-17, as three redshirt freshmen earned at-large bids to compete, the NCAA has announced. 

Shane McGough, Nathan Hoffer and Kevin Radford all earned at-large invitations to compete at the NCAA Championships, joining junior Levi Cooper on the Sun Devil roster for the event.  Cooper earned an automatic qualification courtesy of his runner-up finish in the heavyweight division at the Pac-12 Championships in Boise, Idaho, two weeks ago.

At-large bids were at a premium, with only 43 available nationwide after the 287 student-athletes across the country who had earned automatic berths.  All three freshmen were one of just four at-large bids selected at their respective weight classes. 

McGough will represent ASU at 133 pounds after posting an 18-13 record on the season and a fourth-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships.  McGough scored 13 of his 18 victories on the year with bonus points and eight of those 13 coming by way of pin.  McGough will take on the tournament’s ninth-seeded Cashe Quiroga in the first round. 

Nathan Hoffer will compete at 141 pounds and was the Pac-12 third-place finisher in the event a couple weeks ago.  Hoffer posted the team’s second-best record behind Cooper at 20-9 and scored the most dual victories of anyone on the team with 12.  The Anchorage, Alaska, native didn’t catch the easiest of draws though and will take on the No. 2 seed Kendrick Maple of Oklahoma.  Maple defeated Hoffer 12-0 earlier this season in ASU’s dual in Norman and was ranked No. 1 at the time.

Radford, who wasn’t even the team’s starter at 184 pounds at the beginning of the season, came on strong at the end – ripping off five consecutive victories to end the regular season and earning a fourth-place finish in the Pac-12 Championships.   Radford finished 18-12 and will face Penn’s Erich Smith, who Radford defeated earlier this season in a 5-2 decision.  With a victory, Radford would likely face the top-seeded Joe LeBlanc of Wyoming in the second round.

Cooper, the lone Sun Devil not sweating out the last week waiting for at-large bids, earned the tournament’s No. 9 seed after posting a 25-10 record on the year – leading all Sun Devils.  Cooper will face Michigan State’s Steve Andrus in the opening round.  Cooper defeated Andrus 7-4 in the team’s season opener at the Eastern Michigan Open back in early November.

The NCAA Championships will take place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis beginning Thursday, March 15.  The majority competition will be broadcast live by ESPN on its ESPN3 online affiliate for the early rounds and ESPNU and ESPN broadcasted the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.  ESPN announced that last year’s NCAA 125-pound champion and Sun Devil alum Anthony Robles would join ESPN as an analyst for all the broadcasts on ESPNU and ESPN. 

For continued coverage of the Arizona State wrestling team and a complete preview of all the action heading into next week’s NCAA Championships, be sure follow along at www.thesundevils.com.