No. 10 Wrestling Prepares For National Duals This Weekend
Jan. 15, 2002
This Week --
Facing quite possibly its toughest test of the season thus far, Arizona State's 10th-ranked wrestling squad will put its undefeated dual record on the line this weekend at the 2002 Cliff Keen/NWCA National Duals hosted by Ohio State University, Saturday, Jan. 19 through Sunday, Jan. 20 in Columbus, Ohio. The event will be held at both St. John Arena and French Field House on the OSU campus. ASU is unseeded and will face sixth-seed Iowa State in the first round at 11 a.m. EST, Saturday. The Sun Devils are one of 16 teams competing in the Div. 1 bracket which also includes six of the top seven teams from last year's NCAA Championships.
Probable Arizona State Lineup --
125: #9/#10 Mike Simpson, Freshman, Anaheim, Calif. (18-4)
133: #6/#5 David Douglas, Senior, Harvey, Ill. (17-2)
141: #1/#1 Eric Larkin, Junior, Tucson, Ariz. (21-1)
149: Quinn Foster, Senior, Fairfax, Va. (2-3)
157: #10/#7 Rocky Smart, Pleasant Grove, Utah (11-2) or
Danny Alcocer, Freshman, Aurora, Ill. (6-6)
165: #17/#19 Nick Frost, Sophomore, Tucson, Ariz. (11-5)
174: Jason Conine, Sophomore, San Antonio, Texas (2-9)
184: Will Carr, Freshman, Columbia Heights, Minn. (3-11)
197: #12/#10 Erik Gladish, Senior, Kentfield, Calif. (18-7)
HWT: #12/#9 Kellan Fluckiger, Junior, Preston, Idaho (16-5)
Rankings according to AWM/InterMat (1/15/02)
2002 Cliff Keen/NWCA National Duals --
The 2002 Cliff Keen/NWCA National Duals will consist of 90 dual meets on 12 mats in two days. A new format will be used this year, with Division I, II, and III all conducting their own 16-team individual dual meet championships. The Div. I field includes defending NCAA and Duals champion Minnesota (the top-seed), along with No. 2 seed Oklahoma State, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Iowa, No. 6 Iowa State, No. 7 Ohio State, No. 8 Penn, Northern Iowa, Fresno State, Central Michigan, Edinboro, Lehigh, Arizona State, Lock Haven and Michigan State. All 16 teams are ranked in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association top-25 poll. For brackets and a complete schedule of events, go to www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.
ASU Draws Iowa State in First Round Action --
The Sun Devils have no easy task facing No. 6 Iowa State in the first round of the National Duals. These two teams are set to meet again at Wells Fargo Arena, Sunday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. First-year ASU head coach Thom Ortiz will face his former team for the first time since leaving ISU after a nine-year assistant coaching stint. Ortiz will also be facing his former mentor and legendary Sun Devil coach Bobby Douglas, in his 10th year as the head coach at Iowa State after 18 years in Tempe. This year the Cyclones are 8-1 in dual action, losing only to Iowa 21-16, Dec. 9. ISU is led by seniors Cael Sanderson (197) and Joe Heskett (165). Going into the National Duals, Sanderson is 138-0 in his collegiate career.
National Duals to be Web Cast Live --
ASU wrestling fans will be able to keep up with the Sun Devils match-by-match at the National Duals as Livesportsvideo.com is set to web cast the two-day event. Go to www.livesportsvideo.com to get connected for this pay-per-view event.
Last Year --
Seeded eighth in last year's National Duals, ASU was eliminated after suffering a 19-16 upset loss to host Penn State in the consolation second round. The Sun Devils opened the 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.
Last Time Out --
The Sun Devils posted their fourth dual win without a loss, handing Embry-Riddle a commanding 31-7 defeat at Peoria High School Saturday, Jan. 12. Three wrestlers won their matches via bonus points, as senior Erik Gladish won by technical fall at 197 pounds and sophomore Nick Frost and redshirt-freshman Mike Simpson each won by major decision at 165 and 125, respectively. True freshman Chris Petrie picked up his first collegiate victory in his ASU debut, earning a decision at 174 pounds, while Eric Larkin earned his 21st victory of the season with an Embry-Riddle forfeit at 141 pounds.
Sun Devils in the National Polls --
ASU is tied for 10th in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll released Jan. 9, along with Lock Haven and Missouri, and is 11th according to the Jan. 15 InterMat poll. Seven Sun Devils are ranked individually, featured by junior Eric Larkin, ranked No. 1 at 141 pounds by both InterMat and Amateur Wrestling News, while senior David Douglas ranks fifth by InterMat and sixth by AWM at 133 pounds. Additional rankings include redshirt freshman Mike Simpson at 125 (ninth-AWM, 10th-IM), junior Rocky Smart at 157 (seventh-IM, 10th-AWM), sophomore Nick Frost at 165 (17th-AWM, 19th-IM), senior Erik Gladish at 197 (12th-AWM, 10th-IM), and junior Kellan Fluckiger at heavyweight (12th-AWM, ninth-IM).
Pac-10 Rankings --
ASU is still ranked No. 1 in all three Pac-10 Wrestling Polls this season, the latest released Jan. 7. The defending champions sit atop No. 2 Oregon State (host of this year's Pac-10 tournament), No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Boise State, 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 five Sun Devils ranked No. 1: Mike Simpson (No. 3, 125), David Douglas (No. 1, 133), Eric Larkin (No. 1, 141), Quinn Foster (No. 3, 149), Rocky Smart (No. 1, 157), Nick Frost (No. 4, 165), Erik Gladish (No. 1, 197) and Kellan Fluckiger (No. 1, HWT).
King Pin --
The top-ranked wrestler in the nation at 141 pounds, junior Eric Larkin continues to display his dominance on the mat. Larkin has won 12 of his 21 matches by fall this season after beginning 2001-02 with 10 career pins compiled during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Larkin is five pins away from tying for fourth place on ASU's single-season list. The school record for pins in a season is 25 set by Dan Severn in 1980-81. Larkin had a stretch of 10 pins in 13 matches from the Nov. 25 dual with Oregon State through the second round of Midlands.
ASU Awaits Big Homestand in Early February --
Arizona State wrestling fans should mark their calendars for the Sun Devils' final four dual matches of the 2002 season at Wells Fargo Arena with three top-25 opponents and Pac-10 rival Oregon. Starting Friday, Feb. 1, ASU will welcome No. 20 Nebraska for a 7 p.m. match, followed by Oregon, Sunday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. ASU's biggest home dual of the season will be versus the No. 6 Iowa State Cyclones, Sunday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. Thom Ortiz, formerly an assistant coach for Iowa State, will be up against his old team, while Iowa State's head coach is Bobby Douglas, head coach of the Sun Devils from 1975-92. ASU will close out their 2002 home schedule with No. 24 Fresno State, Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m.
Owen Out for the Season --
Senior Curtis Owen, a two-time NCAA qualifier and co-captain, suffered a season-ending elbow injury and is petitioning for a medical redshirt. Surgery on the left elbow will require five to six months of rehabilitation. Owen has not competed this season.
Weight-by-Weight Breakdown --
125: Redshirt freshman Mike Simpson (Anaheim, Calif.) has solidified the starting position at 125 pounds. The only Sun Devil to compete in this weight class this season, Simpson has racked up an impressive 18-4 overall record, including three wins by technical fall and three by major decision. Simpson finished third at both the Las Vegas Invitational and the Midlands Championships. After a 3-3 start, he has won 15 of his last 16 matches, losing only to No. 2 LeRoy Vega from Minnesota 3-2 at Midlands.
133: Senior David Douglas (Harvey, Ill.) is ASU's starter at 133 pounds, while redshirt freshman Evan Larkin (Tucson, Ariz.) has also seen considerable mat time. Douglas opened the season wrestling at 141 and compiled a perfect 10-0 record, before moving back down to 131 for the Reno Tournament of Champions. Since then he's 7-2, for an overall record of 17-2 including four pins, one technical fall and four major decision wins. Douglas won the 133-pound title at Reno, pulling a 3-2 upset over No. 1 Johnny Thompson (Oklahoma State) in the final bout. He also won the 141 title at the Missouri Open and rattled off 16 wins before suffering his first loss of the season at Midlands. Prior to Douglas's move down to 133, Evan Larkin was the Sun Devils' starter through the Las Vegas Invite and since then has been a valuable back-up for Douglas. Larkin has an overall record of 8-9 including one win by fall and two technical falls.
141: Junior Eric Larkin (Tucson, Ariz.) is the nation's top wrestler at 141 pounds. Larkin opened the season at 149, where he compiled an overall record of 9-1. Like Douglas, Larkin moved down to his permanent home at 141 at the Reno Tournament of Champions. Since then, Larkin is 12-0 with seven pins and titles at Reno and Midlands. His only loss came to Harvard's Jesse Jantzen (8-4) at the Las Vegas Invite where he finished sixth. Overall, 12 of Larkin's 21 wins have come via fall, including a streak in which he pinned six of seven straight opponents. Larkin also won the Missouri Open 149-pound title. With Douglas' 10-0 record at 141 to start the season, ASU has not lost a match at this weight class this season.
149: Four Sun Devils have seen mat time at 149 pounds. Eric Larkin was 9-1 at this weight before moving to 141 at Reno and since then the starting role now belongs to senior Quinn Foster (Fairfax, Va.). Foster is 2-3, seeing action only at Midlands and ASU's duals with Boise State and Embry-Riddle. Redshirt freshman Danny Alcocer (Aurora, Ill.) has also competed at 149, compiling a 5-5 record. Redshirt freshman Joey Ortiz (Phoenix, Ariz.) compiled a 3-2 record in the frosh division of the Missouri Open.
157: Junior Rocky Smart (Pleasant Grove, Utah) has been ASU's starter at 157. He has tallied an outstanding 11-2 overall record including two major decision victories. Smart's only losses came to No. 11 Joe Carr (Wyoming) and No. 6 Ryan Bertin (Michigan). Smart won the 157 title at the Missouri Open, placed fourth at the Las Vegas Invite and sixth at the Reno Tournament. He won nine straight matches before suffering his first loss at Las Vegas. Alcocer is 1-1 at 157, seeing action in the Boise State and Embry-Riddle duals.
165: Sophomore Nick Frost (Tucson, Ariz.) is the only Sun Devil to compete at 165. Frost has an overall record of 11-5, including one pin, two technical falls and three major decisions. Frost placed fourth at the Missouri Open and sixth at the Las Vegas Invite.
174: Sophomore Jason Conine (San Antonio, Texas) has been ASU's starter at 174. He has an overall record of 2-9. True freshman Chris Petrie (Glendale, Ariz.) made his collegiate debut in the Embry-Riddle dual with a decision and is 1-0 at 174. The Sun Devils are missing the services of senior co-captain Curtis Owen (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) who is out for the season with an elbow injury. Owen is petitioning for a medical redshirt.
184: Like at 125, 165 and 174, freshman Will Carr (Columbia Heights, Minn.) is the only Sun Devil to have competed at this weight class this season. In his first year at ASU, Carr has compiled a 3-11 overall record, 1-3 in dual action.
197: Senior Erik Gladish (Kentfield, Calif.) is ASU's leader at 197. Gladish has placed in all four of the Sun Devils' tournaments, including runner-up finishes at the Missouri Open and the Reno Tournament, along with a seventh place finish at Las Vegas and eighth-place finish at Midlands. Gladish has an overall record of 18-7 including one win via fall, one by technical fall and three by major decision. Sophomore Andy Swanson (Louisville, Colo.) has also wrestled at 197, compiling a 2-4 record at the Missouri Open and Reno Tournament.
HWT: Junior Kellan Fluckiger (Preston, Idaho) has been ASU's steady rock at heavyweight. He has an overall record of 16-5 including two pins. He won the heavyweight title at the Reno Tournament, and placed fifth at the Missouri Open. He had won eight of nine matches, including a string of six straight starting at Reno, before falling short to No. 1 John Lockhart (Illinois) by a close 5-3 margin at Midlands. Junior Hector Torres (Rosemead, Calif.) has also wrestled at heavyweight, compiling an 0-2 record at the Missouri Open.
Reno Tournament/Midlands Recaps--
Despite competing without wrestlers in three weight classes, ASU placed ninth at the 39th annual Midlands Championships hosted by Northwestern Dec. 29 through Dec. 30. Eric Larkin won the 141-pound title to lead the Sun Devils, while Mike Simpson placed third at 125 pounds. The only other ASU wrestler to place was Erik Gladish who took eighth at 197. David Douglas was the No. 2 seed at 133 pounds, but suffered his first loss of the season in the quarterfinals (5-2 to Iowa's Cliff Moore) and then his second in the consolation bracket (3-2 tiebreaker to Michigan State's Ryan L'Amoreaux). Prior to Midlands, ASU placed third at the Reno Tournament of Champions, Dec. 20, with Larkin (141), Douglas (133), and Kellan Fluckiger (HWT) winning titles, and Erik Gladish (197) earning runner-up honors.
Las Vegas Invitational Recap --
Redshirt freshman Mike Simpson earned a third-place finish at 125 pounds and junior Rocky Smart finished fourth at 157, leading the Sun Devils to fifth-place at the two-day Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational that concluded Saturday, Dec. 1. A total of six Sun Devils advanced to finals, including top-ranked junior Eric Larkin who suffered a surprise 8-4 semifinal loss to Harvard's Jesse Jantzen. Larkin, who pulled out of the sixth-place match, had pinned his first three opponents prior to the loss. Also picking up sixth-place finishes were senior David Douglas (141) and sophomore Nick Frost (165), while senior Erik Gladish placed seventh (197).
Missouri Open Recap --
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).
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 tocompete 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 --
ASU will return to Pac-10 dual action next weekend as the Sun Devils travel to California for matches with Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield, Saturday, Jan. 26. ASU will first face Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo at 1:30 p.m. before heading to Bakersfield for a 7:30 p.m. match there.