Wrestling set for Las Vegas Invite
The Arizona State University wrestling squad will take a break from its dual schedule to take part in the 30th Annual Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational beginning Friday, Dec. 2, and continuing into Saturday in Las Vegas. The event will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center and will mark the 26th time in the 30-year history of the event that the Sun Devils have competed. The Sun Devils are coming back from a 2-2 showing at the Journeyman/Asics Northeast Duals this past weekend in which the team went 2-2 with an upset of #20 Penn in the process. Junior heavyweight Levi Cooper upset the top-ranked returning NCAA Champion in Zach Rey of Lehigh in the competition as well.
• ASU remains unranked after going 2-2 at the Northeast Duals and upsetting #22 (then #20) Penn
• Levi Cooper upset the top-ranked returning NCAA Champion in Zach Rey of Lehigh in the competition
• Head Coach Shawn Charles is in his third season as head coach
• Redshirt freshman Nathan Hoffer has posted three of his 10 victories this year by pin and is on a six match-winning streak
• 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
• Eleven Sun Devils have experienced their first college action this season, representing the mass majority of competitors thus far and Chace Eskam will make it 12 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.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
Eight opponents on ASU’s 2011-12 schedule can be found within the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll that was released earlier this week, including No. 2 Oklahoma State, who the Sun Devils are set to face in Stillwater on Jan. 20. Other top 25 teams on this year’s slate include No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 18 Oregon State, and No. 21 Nebraska. Arizona State faced three teams currently ranked at the Northeast Duals, upsetting #22 Penn, 21-20, while falling to #10 Lehigh and #25 Binghamtom.
IN THE RANKINGS - INDIVIDUAL
Returning All-American Levi Cooper is the only Sun Devils consistently ranked by all of the major ranking services, and did himself a huge favor ion upsetting former No. 1 Zach Rey at the Northeast Duals. The victory rocketed Cooper from the mid-teens in post rankings to the top-10 across the board, peaking at No. 4 bu The Open Mat. Amateur Wrestling News has him ranked No. 5 while DICollegeWrestling.net placed him in sixth in this weeks rankings. No other Sun Devils find themselves ranked by any ranking service.
LAS VEGAS INVITE HISTORY
The 2011 Las Vegas Invitational will be the 30th edition of the tournament with ASU making its 26th 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 were 12th at the event last year as Anthony Robles captured the title at 125 pounds.
IN THE FIELD: HIGHLY RANKED TEAMS
Thirty-four teams are scheduled to compete in the 30th Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational this weekend. That field includes the third-ranked NCAA Division I squad in Cornell. Also in the field will be No. 6 Ohio State, No. 8 Pittsburgh, No. 15 Wyoming, No. 18 Oregon State and No. 21 Nebraska
A LOOK BACK: Northeast Duals
The Arizona State University wrestling team had its hands full last Saturday, competing in four separate duals at the Journeyman/Asics Northeast Duals in Troy, N.Y. The Sun Devils finished two on the day, defeating Army and upsetting No. 20 Penn while falling to No. 10 Lehigh and Binghamton at the McDonough Sports Complex at Hudson Valley Community College. Levi Cooper was the story of the day, going 4-0 in his matches and upsetting the top-ranked and returning NCAA heavyweight champion Zach Rey of Lehigh, 5-1. Needing a pin to have any hope for a tie against Penn, Cooper managed to do so with only 45 second left in the match. His opponent then threw his headgear, earning a munsportsmanlike conduct penalty and costing his team a point, giving ASU the victory, 21-20. Redshirt freshman Nathan Hoffer also went 4-0 in the competition.
HANGING WITH MR. COOPER
After Levi Cooper’s surprise falter in his second match of the season against Eastern Michigan’s Wes Schroeder, the redshirt junior has ripped off 10 consecutive victories in a streak that includes an upset of top-ranked returning champion Zach Rey of Lehigh at the Northeast Duals. Two of those wins have come by fall and two more my major decision and Cooper is all of a sudden looking like he will be a force to be reckoned with at the national level moving forward.
DON’T MESS WITH THE HOFF
Another Sun Devil on a hot streak is redshirt freshman Nathan Hoffer. After a fourth-place finish at the Eastern Michigan Open to start the season, Hoffer has reeled off victories in all six dual competitions on the season and is the only undefeated dual competitor outside of Cooper. Hoffer went 4-0 at the Northeast Duals and three of his victories so far this season have come by pin.