No. 11 Wrestling Hosts No. 5 Iowa State Sunday At 2 p.m.
Feb. 5, 2002
This Week --
Bringing a four-match win streak and a perfect 5-0 mark at home to the mat this weekend, Arizona State's 11th-ranked wrestling squad (9-2, 6-0 Pac-10) plays host to fifth-ranked Iowa State (13-5, 1-3 Big 12), Sunday, February 10, at 2 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena. The only match of the weekend for the Sun Devils is an important one heading into the final weeks of the regular season. Sunday's festivities will feature an Alumni Reunion, as well as a special Hall of Fame presentation for legendary ASU wrestling coach Bobby Douglas, the current head coach of the Cyclones, between the fifth and sixth matches. ASU head coach Thom Ortiz, will also be facing his former team for which he was an assistant for the last nine seasons. This weekend marks the second meeting of the season between these two teams, as Iowa State defeated ASU 29-14 at last month's National Duals.
Probable Arizona State Lineup --
125: #11/#10 Mike Simpson, Freshman, Anaheim, Calif. (23-6)
133: #6/#6 David Douglas, Senior, Harvey, Ill. (23-3)
141: #1/#1 Eric Larkin, Junior, Tucson, Ariz. (23-2)
149: Quinn Foster, Senior, Fairfax, Va. (5-6)
157: #11/#11 Rocky Smart, Pleasant Grove, Utah (14-3)
165: #18/nr Nick Frost, Sophomore, Tucson, Ariz. (15-8)
174: Chris Petrie, Freshman, Glendale, Ariz. (2-6)
184: Will Carr, Freshman, Columbia Heights, Minn. (5-16)
197: #9/#9 Erik Gladish, Senior, Kentfield, Calif. (22-10) or
Scott Hollingsworth, Freshman, Wheaton, Ill. (0-2)
HWT: #9/#9 Kellan Fluckiger, Junior, Preston, Idaho (22-6)
Rankings according to AWM/InterMat (2/5/02)
Probable Iowa State Lineup --
125: nr/#13 Ty Malia, Sophomore, Billings, Mont. (11-7)
133: #12/#8 Zach Roberson, Sophomore, Overland Park, Kan. (13-7)
141: #4/#5 Aaron Holker, Junior, Orem, Utah (23-5)
149: #5/#6 Billy Maldonado, Senior, Hammond, Ind. (25-6)
157: nr/#14 Matt Veach, Sophomore, Springfield, Ill. (16-11)
165: #1/#1 Joe Heskett, Senior, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (28-1)
174: #20/nr Nick Passolano, Freshman, New Lenox, Ill. (17-12)
184: nr/#16 Austen Palmer, Junior, Durham, N.C. (14-13)
197: #1/#1 Cael Sanderson, Senior, Heber City, Utah (29-0)
HWT: #14/#12 Mark Knauer, Senior, Avalon, Wis. (12-8)
Rankings according to AWM/InterMat (2/5/02), nr-not ranked
Last Time Out --
ASU picked up two more wins at home last weekend, defeating No. 23 Nebraska 20-16 Friday night and Oregon 30-11 Sunday afternoon. The Sun Devils' match with the Huskers came down to the wire as sophomore Nick Frost's technical fall in the final bout gave ASU the win. ASU found itself trailing by one point going in the final match, after falling behind 8-0 after the first two matches and 11-6 after the first five. The Sun Devils' had an easier time getting past Oregon, winning seven matches including pins by junior Eric Larkin and freshman Will Carr.
Scouting Iowa State (13-5, 1-3) --
The Cyclones are led by 10th-year head coach Bobby Douglas, who before moving to Ames, coached the Sun Devils for 18 years (1975-92). Douglas guided ASU to its only NCAA title in 1988, and national runner-up finishes in 1989 and 1990. The Cyclones are 13-5 in dual action and are coming off two losses last weekend at No. 7 Oklahoma State (25-16) and No. 5 Oklahoma (26-16). On the mat, ISU is led by three-time NCAA champion senior Cael Sanderson, who holds a 29-0 record this season and 148-0 mark in his career. Sanderson is the top-ranked wrestler at 197 pounds, while senior Joe Heskett (28-1), a 2001 NCAA runner-up, is also No. 1 at 165 pounds. Additional ranked wrestlers include No. 5 Aaron Holker (141), No. 6 Billy Maldonado (149) and No. 8 Zach Roberson (133). ISU leads the all-time series with ASU, 16-5, and has won nine of the last 10 meetings. Iowa State hosts Missouri Thursday, Feb. 7, in Ames before making the trip to Tempe.
Iowa State Connections --
Both head coaches of the Iowa State and Arizona State programs are no strangers to each other. ASU head coach Thom Ortiz spent the previous nine years as Bobby Douglas' assistant coach at Iowa State before taking the Sun Devil position in 2001. Douglas, on the other hand, spent 18 years as the ASU head coach from 1975-1992 and served as Ortiz's coach during his four-year career at ASU (1985-90).
Matches To Watch --
At 141 pounds, top-ranked Eric Larkin will face No. 5 Aaron Holker, who was responsible for handing Larkin just his second loss of the season when these teams met at the National Duals. Other tightly contested matches should include No. 10 Mike Simpson up against No. 13 Ty Malia at 125, No. 6 David Douglas against No. 8 Zach Roberson at 133, No. 11 Rocky Smart against No. 14 Matt Veach at 157 and No. 9 Kellan Fluckiger against No. 15 Mark Knauer at heavyweight. ASU will weigh-in two wrestlers, No. 9 Erik Gladish and freshman Scott Hollingsworth, for the chance to face top-ranked Cael Sanderson, who has yet to lose a match in his collegiate career.
Sun Devils in the National Polls --
For the second straight week, ASU checks in at 11th in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll released Jan. 30, and is 10th according to the Feb. 5 InterMat poll. Six 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 sixth by both at 133 pounds. Additional rankings include redshirt freshman Mike Simpson at 125 (11th-AWM, 10th-IM), junior Rocky Smart at 157 (11th-IM, 11th-AWM), sophomore Nick Frost (18th-AWM), senior Erik Gladish at 197 (ninth-AWM, ninth-IM), and junior Kellan Fluckiger at heavyweight (ninth-AWM, ninth-IM).
Pac-10 Rankings --
ASU has been ranked No. 1 in all five Pac-10 Wrestling polls this season, the latest released Feb. 5. 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 Stanford, No. 8 Cal State Bakersfield, No. 9 Portland State and No. 10 Cal State Fullerton. ASU wrestlers are ranked among the top-four in six weight classes, including five Sun Devils ranked No. 1: Mike Simpson (No. 2, 125), David Douglas (No. 1, 133), Eric Larkin (No. 1, 141), Rocky Smart (No. 1, 157), 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 13 of his 23 matches by fall this season after beginning 2001-02 with 10 career pins compiled during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Larkin is four 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.
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 and has a 23-6 overall record, tied for the team lead in wins with All-Americans David Douglas and Eric Larkin. The only Sun Devil to compete in this weight class this season, Simpson also leads the team with five major decisions and is tied for the team lead with three technical falls (Frost). Simpson finished third at both the Las Vegas Invitational and the Midlands Championships. After a 3-3 start, he has won 20 of his last 23 matches, losing only to No. 2 LeRoy Vega from Minnesota 3-2 at Midlands, No. 11 Luke Eustice 8-2 from Iowa at the National Duals, and No. 10 Jason Powell 7-2 in ASU's dual with Nebraska during that span.
133: One of the top wrestlers in the nation, senior David Douglas (Harvey, Ill.) is ASU's starter at 133 pounds and has notched his third straight 20-win season with an overall record of 23-3, tied for the team lead in wins. Redshirt freshman Evan Larkin (Tucson, Ariz.) has also seen considerable mat time with a mark of 8-9 at 133, 10-9 overall. 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 13-3, for an overall record of 23-3 including four pins, two technical falls 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. Douglas' only loss at the National Duals was a tough 7-4 decision to fifth-ranked Cliff Moore (Iowa). 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 10-9 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 114-1 with eight pins and titles at Reno and Midlands. His only losses have come to Harvard's Jesse Jantzen (8-4) at the Las Vegas Invite where he finished sixth and to Iowa State's Aaron Holker at National Duals. Overall, 13 of Larkin's 23 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. A knee injury kept him out of four duals in January, as well as the NWCA All-Star Classic, but returned to the lineup against Nebraska. Eric's younger brother Evan filled in for the elder Larkin at 141 vs. Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield, and came away with two wins. With Douglas' 10-0 record at 141 to start the season, ASU has only lost one 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 has belonged to senior Quinn Foster (Fairfax, Va.), who is 5-6 overall. Foster picked up his first pin of the season vs. Cal Poly. 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 14-3 overall record including two major decision victories. Smart's only losses came to No. 11 Joe Carr (Wyoming), No. 6 Ryan Bertin (Michigan) and No. 1 Bryan Snyder (Nebraska). 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. A hand injury suffered at Reno kept Smart out of the lineup until the Jan. 26 duals with Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield. Since returning he is 3-1, losing only to top-ranked Bryan Snyder. Alcocer is 1-4 at 157, having filled in for an injured Smart in duals with Boise State and Embry-Riddle, as well as the National Duals.
165: Sophomore Nick Frost (Tucson, Ariz.) is the only Sun Devil to compete at 165. Frost has an overall record of 15-8, including two pins, a team-high four technical falls and three major decisions. Frost placed fourth at the Missouri Open and sixth at the Las Vegas Invite. Two times this season, Frost scored a technical fall which proved to be the deciding factor in two ASU wins this season. His 20-3 technical fall victory over Ted Dufresne in ASU's match with Lehigh at the National Duals gave the Sun Devils the team victory when criteria C was used as the deciding factor for breaking the 21-21 tied final score. Most recently,with ASU trailing by one point going into the final bout vs. Nebraska, Frost's 18-2 technical fall over Jason High handed the Sun Devils the 20-16 victory. Frost also picked up ASU's only win in its match with Iowa at National Duals.
174: ASU has been plagued by injuries at 174. The Sun Devils lost senior co-captain Curtis Owen (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) to a season-ending elbow injury for which he had surgery. Owen is petitioning for a medical redshirt. Sophomore Jason Conine (San Antonio, Texas) then stepped in as ASU's starter at 174, compiling an overall record of 2-9 before also falling to injury. True freshman Chris Petrie (Glendale, Ariz.) made his collegiate debut in the Embry-Riddle dual with a decision, and is now 2-6 after competing in ASU's last eight duals.
184: Like at 125 and 165, 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 5-16 overall record, 3-8 in dual action. He picked up his first pin vs. Cal State Bakersfield and followed that up by pinning Oregon's Elias Soto last weekend.
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 22-10 including one win via fall, one by technical fall and four by major decision. Gladish met some fierce competition at the National Duals, in No. 1 Cael Sanderson (Iowa State) and No. 2 Jon Trenge (Lehigh). Gladish was pinned by Sanderson in 4:11 and was edged by Trenge in double overtime, 6-4, but since then has won four straight. 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 22-6 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. Fluckiger then won four straight until falling to another top-ranked wrestler, Steve Mocco from Iowa State (pin in 0:55) at the National Duals, but like Gladish has won his last four straight matches. 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 ErikGladish 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 RenoTournament 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 close out its 2001-02 season slate at home with Fresno State, Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. Wrestling in the final home matches of their careers, seniors David Douglas, Quinn Foster and Erik Gladish will be recognized prior to the dual. The Sun Devils will then close out the regular season at Oklahoma, Thursday, Feb. 21, before preparing to defend their conference title at the Pac-10 Championships hosted by Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, March 2 through Sunday, March 3.