No. 11 Wrestling Closes Out Home Slate With No. 24 Fresno State Sunday
Feb. 13, 2002
This Week --
Looking to regroup after a tough loss to No. 7 Iowa State last weekend, the No. 11 Arizona State wrestling team hosts its final home dual of the season with No. 24 Fresno State, Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. MST in Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils (9-3 overall, 6-0 Pac-10) aim to get back in the win column after dropping their first home match of the season to the Cyclones. Fresno State (11-6 overall) is coming off a two match win streak, having defeated both Oregon State and Portland State, Sunday, Feb. 10. The Bulldogs host Cal Poly Wednesday, Feb. 13, before heading to the desert. Sunday's match is the final home dual for three Arizona State seniors, David Douglas, Quinn Foster and Erik Gladish.
Probable Arizona State Lineup --
125: #11/#11 Mike Simpson, Freshman, Anaheim, Calif. (23-7)
133: #6/#6 David Douglas, Senior, Harvey, Ill. (24-3)
141: #1/#3 Eric Larkin, Junior, Tucson, Ariz. (23-3)
149: Quinn Foster, Senior, Fairfax, Va. (5-6)
157: #11/#11 Rocky Smart, Pleasant Grove, Utah (15-3)
165: #18/nr Nick Frost, Sophomore, Tucson, Ariz. (15-9)
174: Chris Petrie, Freshman, Glendale, Ariz. (2-6)
184: Will Carr, Freshman, Columbia Heights, Minn. (5-17)
197: #9/#9 Erik Gladish, Senior, Kentfield, Calif. (22-10) or
Scott Hollingsworth, Freshman, Wheaton, Ill. (0-3)
HWT: #9/#9 Kellan Fluckiger, Junior, Preston, Idaho (23-6)
Rankings according to AWM/InterMat (2/12/02)
Last Time Out --
ASU's four match win streak and 5-0 unbeaten streak at home was halted by No. 7 Iowa State Sunday, Feb. 10, with a 31-9 loss to the Cyclones. ASU mustered just three wins, while ISU won four of its seven matches by bonus points. Suffering just their third dual loss of the year, the Sun Devils fell for the second time this season to Iowa State. ASU's three wins came from junior Kellan Fluckiger at heavyweight, senior All-American David Douglas at 133 pounds and junior Rocky Smart at 157. Top-ranked junior All-American Eric Larkin lost just his third match of the season, falling for the second time to fourth-ranked Aaron Holker. Iowa State's Cael Sanderson picked up his 150th career victory without a loss, pinning freshman Scott Hollingsworth in 4:50 at 197. At the intermission between the fifth and sixth matches, legendary ASU wrestling coach Bobby Douglas, now in his 10th year as head coach at Iowa State, was presented his ASU Hall of Fame plaque by legendary football coach Frank Kush.
Fresno State (11-6) --
Following its match with Cal Poly Wednesday, Sunday's dual is the final match for Fresno State before hosting West Regionals, Saturday, March 9. The Bulldogs are led by two-time national champion and three-time All-American Stephen Abas (125). With three wins this past weekend, top-ranked Abas set the Fresno State record with 137 career victories. The Bulldogs went 1-2 in duals last weekend, falling to Oregon 20-16 Friday, before defeating Oregon State (19-15) and Portland State (33-6). Fresno State is ranked 24th according to the NWCA poll and the latest InterMat poll. Two FSU wrestlers appear in the Top-25 rankings, with Abas ranked No. 1 at 125 pounds and senior Derrick Hayes ranked No. 16 at 133. The Bulldogs are coached by Dennis Deliddo in his 21st season. ASU leads the all-time series with Fresno State 17-3, winning the last five matches. Last year the Sun Devils defeated FSU 24-14 in Fresno.
Senior Salute --
Sun Devils seniors David Douglas, Quinn Foster and Erik Gladish will be honored prior to Sunday's match for their contributions to Arizona State wrestling. The trio will wrestle for the final time on their home mat at Wells Fargo Arena.
Pac-10 Championships On The Horizon --
With one final dual remaining after Sunday's match with Fresno State, the post-season is just around the corner for ASU wrestling. The Sun Devils' road to the NCAA championships must first go through Corvallis, Ore., where the Oregon State Beavers host the Pac-10 Championships, Saturday, March 2, through Sunday, March 3. As a team, ASU will seek to defend its 2001 Pac-10 crown and aim to win its 16th conference title overall. The top four individual finishers in each weight class at the Pac-10 Championships advance to compete at the NCAA Championships held in Albany, N.Y., Thursday, March 21 through Saturday, March 23.
Sun Devils in the National Polls --
For the third straight week, ASU checks in at 11th in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll released Feb. 6, and is 10th according to the Feb. 12 InterMat poll. Six Sun Devils are ranked individually, featured by junior Eric Larkin, ranked No. 1 at 141 pounds by Amateur Wrestling News and No. 3 by InterMat, while senior David Douglas ranks sixth by both at 133 pounds. Additional rankings include redshirt freshman Mike Simpson at 125 (11th-AWM, 11th-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 23-7 overall record, tied with Eric Larkin and Kellan Fluckiger for the second on the team in wins. 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 24 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, No. 10 Jason Powell 7-2 in ASU's dual with Nebraska and Iowa State's Ty Malia 4-3 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 24-3, owning 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, 10-10 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 14-3, for an overall record of 24-3 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 10-10 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 14-2 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 twice to Iowa State's Aaron Holker, at National Duals and ASU's dual with ISU Feb. 10. 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 he 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 two matches at this weight class this season.
149: Five 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. Evan Larkin filled in for Foster in ASU's dual with Iowa State, losing by fall to fifth-ranked Billy Maldonado.
157: Junior Rocky Smart (Pleasant Grove, Utah) has been ASU's starter at 157. He has tallied an outstanding 15-3 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 4-1, 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 15-9, 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. Frost moved up to 174 in ASU's dual with Iowa State, but lost by an 11-0 major decision to Nick Passolano.
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 which required 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 seven of ASU's last eight duals. Nick Frost is 0-1 at 174, moving up a weight class in ASU's dual with Iowa State.
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 5-17 overall record, 3-9 in dual action. He picked up his first pin vs. Cal State Bakersfield and followed that up by pinning Oregon's Elias Soto the next 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. Freshman Scott Hollingsworth (Wheatonville, Ill.) competed in his first collegiate dual match against Iowa State Feb. 10, losing by fall to Cael Sanderson in 4:50.
HWT: Junior Kellan Fluckiger (Preston, Idaho) has been ASU's steady rock at heavyweight. He has an overall record of 23-6 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 has won his last five straight. 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 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 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 --
ASU closes out the 2001-02 regular season with a dual at Oklahoma Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. CT. The Sun Devils will then prepare to defend their conference title at the Pac-10 Championships, March 2-3.