Wrestling Hosts Oregon State Thursday; Competes in Las Vegas Invitational This Weekend
Nov. 27, 2001
This Week --
Arizona State wrestling (1-0 overall, 1-0 Pac-10) will host its second straight Pac-10 dual when the Oregon State Beavers (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10) meet the Sun Devils, Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. MST in Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils will then immediately hit the road to compete in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Friday, Nov. 30 through Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Probable Arizona State Lineup --
125: Mike Simpson, Freshman, Anaheim, Calif. (2-2)
133: Evan Larkin, Freshman, Tucson, Ariz. (3-2)
141: #3/#3 David Douglas, Senior, Harvey, Ill. (5-0)
149: #1/#1 Eric Larkin, Junior, Tucson, Ariz. (5-0)
157: #8/#7 Rocky Smart, Junior, Pleasant Grove, Utah (5-0)
165: #13/#13 Nick Frost, Sophomore, Tucson, Ariz. (2-3)
174: Jason Conine, Sophomore, San Antonio, Texas (0-3)
184: Will Carr, Freshman, Columbia Heights, Minn. (2-2)
197: nr/#6 Erik Gladish, Senior, Kentfield, Calif. (4-1) or
Andy Swanson, Sophomore, Louisville, Colo. (1-2)
HWT: #15/#13 Kellan Fluckiger, Junior, Preston, Idaho (4-2)
Probable Oregon State Lineup --
125: Michael Delany, Junior, Tracy, Calif. (5-0) or
Ale DeLaPena, Sophomore, Benton City, Wash. (5-2)
133: #9/#15 Nathan Navarro, Senior, Ontario, Ore. (7-0)
141: Casey Horn, Junior, Salem, Ore. (3-0)
149: Jordan Barich, Freshman, Newberg, Ore. (3-0)
157: Micah Houston, Sophomore, Arlington, Texas (4-1)
165: #18/nr Jed Pennell, Sophomore, Cave Junction, Ore. (3-0)
174: #6/#6 Nathan Coy, Senior, Oregon City, Ore. (1-0) or
Jake Huffman, Junior, Scio, Ore. (7-0)
184: Isaac Weber, Senior, Newberg, Ore. (4-2)
197: Jason Lovell, Junior, Turner, Ore. (5-1)
HWT: #12/#18 Jason Cooley, Senior, Anchorage, Alaska (0-0) or
Andy Bowlby, Junior, Newberg, Ore. (6-0)
Rankings according to AWM/InterMat (11/21/01), nr - not ranked
Last Time Out --
ASU followed up its successful trip to the Missouri Open with a commanding 40-6 victory over Cal State Fullerton in Tempe, Sunday, opening up its home schedule with dual win number one under first-year head coach Thom Ortiz. Erik Gladish, Kellan Fluckiger and Evan and Eric Larkin all recorded pins, while Mike Simpson earned a technical fall victory and David Douglas and Rocky Smart tallied major decisions. ASU won eight matches, seven by bonus points. Nick Frost suffered a tough upset, as CSF's Chris Carlino scored a takedown in the final seconds for the 8-7 decision. Eric Larkin, Douglas and Smart all preserved their undefeated records on the season.
Scouting Oregon State --
Ranked 24th by InterMat, the Beavers quickly accrued an undefeated dual record of 4-0, sweeping the Oregon State duals in Corvallis, Friday, Nov. 23. OSU turned in wins vs. Portland State (36-3), Central Washington (44-0), Pacific (32-6) and Simon Fraser (40-9). OSU's match with Portland State counts as a Pac-10 meeting. 141-pounder Casey Horn picked up pins in all three of his victories , while 165-pounder Jed Pennell also went 3-0, including a pin and a major decision. OSU opened the season at the Southern Oregon Open, Nov. 17, with four wrestlers winning titles (Michael Delaney, 125, Andy Bowlby, HWT, and co-champions Nathan Coy and Jake Huffman, 174). OSU, host of this year's Pac-10 Championships, is led by head coach Joe Wells and assistants Dan Hicks and Jeff Cardwell.
All-Time Series With OSU --
ASU leads the all-time series with Oregon State, 14-10, having won the last two straight meetings, and six of the last seven dating back to 1997. ASU defeated OSU 21-14 last year in Corvallis, despite upsets of two of its top wrestlers, Steve Blackford and Rocky Smart. The last time OSU defeated ASU was a 23-19 victory in Corvallis in 1999.
Las Vegas Invitational --
In addition to ASU, the teams participating in this year's Las Vegas Invitational are Adams State, Augustana, Boston, Brown, Buffalo, Cal Poly, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Fullerton, Central Oklahoma, Central Washington, Clarion, Colorado Mines, Columbia, Cornell, Dana, Dickinson State, Edinboro, Embry-Riddle, Fresno State, Harvard, Lassen, Lehigh, Michigan, Missouri Valley, Montana State, Nebraska, North Carolina State, North Carolina, North Dakota State, North Idaho, Northern Colorado, NW Wyoming, Oregon State, Oregon, Pacific, Pima, Pittsburgh, Portland State, San Francisco State, Southern Oregon, Stanford, Air Force, Army, West Virginia, Western State and Wyoming.
Last Year at the Las Vegas Invitational --
Eric Larkin won six straight matches to capture the 141-pound championship title, leading ASU to a fourth-place finish at the 19th annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational last year. The Sun Devils finished only behind Illinois (156 points), Nebraska (113.5) and Lehigh (105.5). ASU ended the two-day affair with 89.5 points. Steve Blackford and David Douglas each advanced to the semifinals at 165 and 133 pounds, respectively, but losses sent them to the consolation bracket. In the fifth-place match at 133, Douglas fell in a close 3-2 match to Buffalo's Shawn Kegal, while Blackford pulled out with a medical forfeit in his fifth-place bout.
Sun Devils in the National Polls --
The National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll has not yet been released, but ASU enters the season ranked ninth by Amateur Wrestling News and 11th by InterMat. Seven Sun Devils are ranked individually, featured by junior Eric Larkin, ranked No. 1 at 141 pounds by both AWM and InterMat and senior David Douglas, ranked third at 133 pounds by both. Additional rankings include junior Rocky Smart at 157 (eighth-AWM, seventh-IM), sophomore Nick Frost at 165 (13th-AWM, 13th-IM), senior Curtis Owen at 174 (20th-AWM, 19th-IM), senior Erik Gladish at 197 (sixth-IM) and junior Kellan Fluckiger at heavyweight (15th-AWM, 13th-IM).
Pac-10 Rankings --
ASU is ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 Preseason Wrestling Poll released Oct. 26. The defending champions sit atop No. 2 Oregon State (host of this year's Pac-10 tournament), No. 3 Boise State, No. 4 Oregon, No. 5 Caly Poly, No. 6 UC Davis, No. 7 Cal State Bakersfield, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 Portland State and No. 10 Cal State Fullerton. ASU wrestlers are ranked among the top-four in eight weight classes, including four Sun Devils ranked No. 1: Mike Simpson (No. 4, 125), David Douglas (No. 1, 133), Eric Larkin (No. 1, 141), Rocky Smart (No. 1, 157), Nick Frost (No. 4, 165), Curtis Owen (No. 3, 174), Erik Gladish (No. 2, 197) and Kellan Fluckiger/Hector Torres (No. 1, HWT).
Lineup Juggling --
ASU All-Americans Eric Larkin and David Douglas opened the season wrestling up one weight class, Larkin at 149 pounds and Douglas at 141 pounds. Ranked No. 1 and No. 3 at 141 and 133 pounds, respectively, both wrestlers expect to make the move back down to those weight classes following this weekend's Las Vegas Invitational.
Missouri Open Highlights --
11th-ranked ASU made its season debut Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Missouri Open, with three Sun Devils taking home individual title wins. Senior David Douglas won the 141-pound title, junior Eric Larkin captured the 149-pound title and junior Rocky Smart won the 157-pound crown. Senior Erik Gladish came just shy of becoming the fourth Sun Devil to post a tournament victory, falling 3-1 in overtime to Ohio State's Nick Preston in the final bout. Also placing for ASU were sophomore Nick Frost (fourth at 165 pounds) and junior Kellan Fluckiger (fifth at heavyweight).
Sun Devils Impressive at Sunkist Open --
Junior Eric Larkin captured the freestyle 63 kg. championship title, while freshman Evan Larkin, junior Kellan Fluckiger and assistant coach Aaron Simpson each earned freestyle runner-up honors as the 17th Annual Sunkist Kids/ASU International Open that concluded at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Ariz., Sunday, Oct. 28. Larkin went 5-0 during the two-day tournament, highlighted by a close 5-4 decision over Jamill Kelly in the championship bout. His title was one of five freestyle titles captured by the United States, while Canada came away with two champions. Eric's younger brother Evan, took second at 58 kg., losing to Canada's Saelo Azarbayjami by technical fall (12-2, 4:10) in the title match. Fluckiger finished second at 130 kg., losing by technical fall (10-0, 2:07) to Tolly Thompson, while Simpson, last year's winner at 85 kg., fell to Randy Pugh 4-2 in the title match.
Head Coach Thom Ortiz --
Becoming the fifth head coach in the 39-year history of ASU wrestling, Thom Ortiz returns to his alma mater where he was a three-time All-American, a three-time Pac-10 champion and a strong contributor to three of the most successful teams in ASU wrestling history. Ortiz helped ASU win four straight Pac-10 titles and its only NCAA crown in 1988, a season followed by two-straight national runner-up finishes in '89 and '90. Ortiz returns to ASU after serving nine years as the head assistant coach at Iowa State under his former Sun Devil coach Bobby Douglas. In 1992, he followed Douglas from Tempe to Ames, Iowa, for an assistant coaching position. With the Cyclones, Ortiz helped mentor three national champions and numerous All-Americans, while bringing in some of the top-ranked recruiting classes in the nation. Ortiz was also the runner-up for the 2000 National Wrestling Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year Award. Prior to his stint at Iowa State, Ortiz was an ASU graduate assistant in 1991, before taking over as the Sun Devils' interim head coach while Douglas was coaching the U.S. Olympic wrestling team in 1992.
ASU Ties --
Not only is head coach Thom Ortiz a former Sun Devil, both of his assistant coaches, Townsend Saunders and Aaron Simpson, are ASU alums. Saunders is in his first season as an assistant coach, hired by Ortiz in June 2001. Saunders wrestled for two seasons at ASU (1988-89, 1989-90), both years earning All-America honors and winning Pac-10 titles. Since his collegiate career, he went on to compete as a two-time Olympian, including a silver-medal winning performance in 1996. Saunders, recently named the executive director of the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club, was also a two-time gold medalist at the Pan-American Games and a 1994 gold medalist at the Goodwill Games. Simpson enters his fourth year as an assistant, after working the previous three years under Lee Roy Smith. Simpson graduated from ASU in 1998 where he was a two-time All-American and two-time Pac-10 champion. Simpson continues his wrestling career competing for the Phoenix-based Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club. He was the 1997 Pan-American Games silver-medalist at 187 pounds and in June 2000, he placed fifth at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Last summer he qualified for the World Team Trials with a fifth-place finish at the U.S. National Championships.
Up Next --
After over a two-week break from competition, ASU resumes action Thursday, Dec. 20, at the Reno Tournament of Champions in Reno, Nev.