No. 11 Wrestling Ends Regular Season Dual Schedule At No. 6 Oklahoma Thursday
Feb. 19, 2002
This Week --
Aiming to break a two-match losing streak, No. 11 Arizona State wrestling hits the road for its final dual of the season at No. 6 Oklahoma, Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. CT. The match will take place at OU's Howard McCasland Field House in Norman, Okla. ASU is 9-4 going into its regular season finale, while OU is 16-5 overall. Both teams are coming off losses suffered Sunday, as the Sun Devils look to rebound from a 22-20 upset by No. 23 Fresno State in Tempe, while the Sooners were defeated by rival No. 4 Oklahoma State 17-8 in Norman. OU has an 18-13-1 edge in the all-time series with ASU and has won the last five straight meetings.
Probable Arizona State Lineup --
125: #12/#12 Mike Simpson, Freshman, Anaheim, Calif. (23-7)
133: #6/#6 David Douglas, Senior, Harvey, Ill. (25-3)
141: #1/#3 Eric Larkin, Junior, Tucson, Ariz. (24-3)
149: Evan Larkin, Freshman, Tucson, Ariz. (10-11)
157: #11/#8 Rocky Smart, Pleasant Grove, Utah (16-3)
165: #18/nr Nick Frost, Sophomore, Tucson, Ariz. (16-9)
174: Chris Petrie, Freshman, Glendale, Ariz. (2-7)
184: Will Carr, Freshman, Columbia Heights, Minn. (5-18)
197: #9/#9 Erik Gladish, Senior, Kentfield, Calif. (22-10) or
Scott Hollingsworth, Freshman, Wheaton, Ill. (0-4)
HWT: #9/#9 Kellan Fluckiger, Junior, Preston, Idaho (24-6)
Rankings according to AWM/InterMat (2/19/02)
Last Time Out --
ASU was unable to pull off a win in its final home dual of season, falling to No. 23 Fresno State 22-20 at Wells Fargo Arena Sunday. The Bulldogs came back from a 20-9 deficit, winning the final three bouts to derail the Sun Devils. ASU won five of the first seven matches, including junior All-American Eric Larkin's 14th pin of the season (141) and major decisions by junior Kellan Fluckiger (HWT) and sophomore Nick Frost (165). ASU clung to a 20-18 lead going into the final match at 197 pounds, but it was FSU's Marcio Botelho who claimed the 11-3 major decision over freshman Scott Hollingsworth to give the Bulldogs the win. ASU wrestled without two of its regular starters who were out of the lineup due to injury.
Oklahoma (16-5) --
Oklahoma (16-5 overall, 3-2 Big 12) has won three of its last four duals and still has two more duals on its regular season slate after the meeting with ASU Thursday. The Sooners are also scheduled to host this year's Big 12 Championships, March 9. Ranked No. 6 in the nation and always a team in contention for a national title, Oklahoma's 10 starters are all ranked nationally in their respective weight classes. OU is led by All-Americans Witt Durden (ranked third at 133 pounds), Jared Frayer (ranked fourth at 149) and Leonce Crump (ranked fourth at heavyweight). The Sooners are coached by Jack Spates, in his ninth year at the helm. Last year, OU finished fourth for the second straight year at the NCAA Championships. The last time ASU defeated the Sooners was a 21-18 victory at the National Duals in 1998.
Pac-10 Championships On The Horizon --
With a final dual remaining this week, 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. For ticket information for the Pac-10 Championships, go to www.osubeavers.com.
Sun Devils in the National Polls --
For the fourth straight week, ASU checks in at 11th in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll released Feb. 13, and is 13th according to the Feb. 19 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 (12th-AWN, 12th-IM), junior Rocky Smart at 157 (eighth-IM, 11th-AWN), sophomore Nick Frost (18th-AWN), senior Erik Gladish at 197 (ninth-AWN, ninth-IM), and junior Kellan Fluckiger at heavyweight (ninth-AWN, 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 14 of his 24 matches by fall this season after beginning 2001-02 with 10 career pins compiled during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Larkin is three 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. The only Sun Devil to compete in this weight class this season, Simpson leads the team with five major decisions and is second with three technical falls. 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. An injury kept Simpson out of the lineup vs. Fresno State Sunday.
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 25-3, 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, 10-11 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 15-3, for an overall record of 25-3 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 has been a valuable back-up for Douglas. Larkin has an overall record of 10-11 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 15-2 with nine 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, 14 of Larkin's 24 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 has filled in for an injured Foster in ASU's last two duals with Iowa State and Fresno State, going 0-2.
157: Junior Rocky Smart (Pleasant Grove, Utah) has been ASU's starter at 157. He has tallied an outstanding 16-3 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 5-1, 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 16-9, including two pins, a team-high four technical falls and four 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. 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. More 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 2-7 after competing in eight of ASU's last nine 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 5-18 overall record, 3-10 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. Gladish has missed ASU's last two duals, nursing a knee injury. Freshman Scott Hollingsworth (Wheatonville, Ill.) has filled in, competing in his first collegiate dual match against Iowa State Feb. 10, and losing by fall to Cael Sanderson in 4:50. Hollingsworth also lost by an 11-3 major decision to Fresno State's Marcio Botelho. 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 24-6 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 six 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 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 --
After saying good-bye to the regular season this week, ASU sets its sights on the post-season and seeks to defend its 2001 conference crown at the Pac-10 Championships hosted by Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, March 2 through Sunday, March 3. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to compete in the NCAA Championships held at the Pepsi Arena in Albany, N.Y., Thursday, March 21, through Saturday, March 23.