No. 9 Wrestling Travels to No. 14 Oregon State, No. 24 Fresno State
Jan. 23, 2001
This Week: The ninth-ranked Arizona State wrestling squad (5-3 overall, 1-0 Pac-10) remains on the road for the second straight weekend as the Sun Devils will visit two different states in three days. ASU's undefeated Pac-10 record will be on the line when it travels to Corvallis, Ore. for a conference matchup with No. 14 Oregon State Friday, Jan. 26 at 8:30 p.m. MST. The Sun Devils will then head south to California for a match with No. 24 Fresno State on Super Sunday, Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. MST. The Sun Devils will attempt to bounce back from last week's National Duals, in which they posted a 1-2 record. ASU recorded an opening round 35-8 victory over Montana State Northern, but the fell to No. 1 Oklahoma State 26-12 and host Penn State 19-16.
Probable Sun Devil Lineup: Overall Dual
125: Chris Knox, RS-Fr. 1-9 0-5
133: #14/#12 David Douglas, Jr. 14-5 6-1
141: #3/#3 Eric Larkin, So. 12-1 6-1
149: Dana Holland, Jr. 14-8 4-4
157: #13/#10 Rocky Smart, So. 18-5 8-0
165: #4/#5 Steve Blackford, Sr. 21-2 8-0
174: Curtis Owen, Jr. 13-11 5-3
184: #11/#19 R.D. Pursell, Sr. 17-9 6-2
197: Andy Swanson, RS-Fr. 7-11 2-4
HWT: #12/#15 Kellan Fluckiger, So. 16-6 6-2
Scouting Oregon State:The Beavers of Oregon State bring a 9-3 overall record and a 5-1 Pac-10 mark to Friday night's match. Last week, OSU defeated #11 Boise State 15-10, the fourth straight dual victory for the Beavers. ASU will have a tall task ahead, as Oregon State is 6-1 this year in Gill Coliseum, its only home loss coming at the hands of No. 3 Iowa 31-6. OSU has three wrestlers ranked in the national polls in senior Ben Richards at 133 pounds (No. 20 InterMat), senior Eric Jorgensen at 157 pounds (No. 7 AWM, No. 8 IM) and junior heavyweight Jason Cooley (No. 6 AWM, No. 8 IM). Junior Nathan Coy leads the team with a 25-5 record -- all but one match wrestled at 174 pounds -- while Jorgensen checks in with a 22-5 mark. The Beavers are coached by Joe Wells, who just earned his 100th career victory at OSU with the win over Boise State.
The Series vs. OSU:ASU leads the all-time series with OSU 13-10 having won five of the last six dating back to 1997. The last time the Beavers defeated ASU was a 23-19 match at Corvallis. Last year, ASU won the Pac-10 dual match 23-16 in Tempe.
Scouting Fresno State:The Fresno State Bulldogs are 4-5 overall, but four of those five losses have been to top-six teams (No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Iowa, No. 4 Iowa State and No. 6 Oklahoma). FSU has a busy week ahead as they will have four matches in three days. The Bulldogs travel to UC Davis Friday, Jan. 26 and then return to host Oregon that evening. FSU will also host Portland State at 5:30 p.m. prior to the dual with ASU at 7 p.m. PST. The Bulldogs are led by 125 pound junior Stephen Abas, the No. 1 ranked wrestler in his weight class with a 14-0 overall record, 9-0 dual. Also ranked nationally are No. 16 Derrick Hayes (133), No. 15 Nathan Vasquez (157) and No. 2 Billy Blunt (HWT).
The Series vs. Fresno State:ASU leads the all-time series with FSU 15-3 since 1982. ASU has a four-match win streak heading into this weekend, while the last time the Sun Devils lost to FSU was by a 25-12 margin at home in 1996. Last year ASU defeated FSU 24-11 in Tempe.
Sun Devils in the National Polls:ASU secured its No. 9 spot for the second straight week according to the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll released Jan. 17. Six Sun Devils are also included in the latest individual rankings released by InterMat and Amateur Wrestling News: Eric Larkin at 141 pounds (No. 3 by both), Steve Blackford at 165 pounds (No. 4 AWM, No. 5 IM), Rocky Smart at 157 pounds (No. 13 AWM, No. 10 IM) , David Douglas at 133 pounds (No. 14 AWM, No. 12 IM), Kellan Fluckiger at HWT (No. 12 AWM, No. 15 IM), and R.D. Pursell at 184 pounds (No. 11 AWM, No. 19 IM).
Last Time Out:A heart-breaking 19-16 upset loss to host Penn State eliminated the ninth-ranked Arizona State wrestling squad in the consolation second round of the 2001 Cliff Keen/NWCA National Wrestling Duals at the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday, Jan. 20. The eighth-seeded Sun Devils opened the double-elimination tournament with a convincing 35-8 win over Montana State Northern, before falling to top-seed Oklahoma State 26-12 in the second round and Penn State in the second round consolation. Senior All-American Steve Blackford (165 pounds), sophomore All-American Eric Larkin (141) and sophomore Rocky Smart (157) all turned in perfect 3-0 records on the day.
Dual Perfection:Heading into this weekend's contests with Oregon State and Fresno State, two Sun Devils remain undefeated in dual matches (including bouts with No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 6 Oklahoma). Steve Blackford and Rocky Smart are both 8-0 on the mat against dual competitors in their respective weight classes. Overall, Blackford has won a string of nine straight matches including 14 of the last 15. Smart's performance is no less impressive, riding a five-match win streak and winning eight of the last nine.
Blackford Closing in on the Record Books:Senior Steve Blackford, the 2000 Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year and two-time All-American, continues his climb in the ASU record books as the 2001 season unfolds. Blackford has a team-high 21 wins this season, giving him 124 career victories and a fifth-place ranking on the all-time win list (just 23 shy of the school record). Last season, Blackford tied for second on the single-season victory list with 43 wins (Eddie Urbano, `84-85), just two away from the school record. Dan St. John (1986-90) holds both the ASU single-season victory record (45) and career victory record (147). Blackford is tied for fifth on the career dual victories list (57) and on the career falls list (28).
Bonus Points: All-American sophomore Eric Larkin got back on the winning track at the National Duals after suffering his first loss of the season to Oklahoma's second-ranked Michael Lightner Jan. 12...Larkin went 3-0, including a major decision win over Jason Fratzke of Montana State Northern...Larkin is 12-1, with all but two wins coming via bonus points ...The top three Sun Devils in the win column are Blackford (21-2), Rocky Smart (18-5) and R.D. Pursell (17-9)...Blackford leads the team with four pins...Blackford, junior Curtis Owen and junior Dana Holland share the team lead with three wins via technical fall...Larkin and Owen both have six major decision victories.
Head Coach Lee Roy Smith: In his ninth year at Arizona State, Lee Roy Smith has continued the unprecedented sucess of one of the nation's premier collegiate wrestling programs. In eight seasons, Smith has guided the Sun Devils to eight NCAA Championship appearances, four top-10 national finishes and four Pac-10 titles. Smith's ASU teams have finished as high as fourth in the nation in 1993 and 1995, and he has mentored 26 All-Americans and two national champions (for a total of three NCAA titles). Smith owns a career slate of 86-56-1 (.601) and is assisted by Tony Quinones, Aaron Simpson and his younger brother Mark Smith.
Up Next: ASU will travel to No. 12 Oregon for an all-important Pac-10 match in Eugene Friday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. PST, before returning to Tempe to host Cal State Bakersfield, Sunday, Feb. 4 at 2 p.m.