Six Individuals, Arizona State Wrestling Team Claim Pac-10 Titles
March 3, 2003
BOISE, Idaho - The No. 14 Arizona State wrestling team, picked as the win the team title a year ago and fell to Boise State, entered the foes home venue and walked away as the 2003 Pac-10 Champions! Six Sun Devils claimed titles in the tournament, including Mike Simpson (So., Anaheim, Calif.), Eric Larkin (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.), Nick Frost (Jr., Tucson, Ariz.), Curtis Owen (Sr., Coeur D'Alene, Idaho), Ryan Bader (Fr., Verdi, Nev.) and Kellan Fluckiger (Sr., Preston, Idaho) as ASU accumulated 134 points to Boise State's 127 to lay claim to its 14th Pac-10 team title. Larkin also piled on two more awards by securing his third Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year award and the Gorrarian Award (most pins in the least time) to conclude the championship.
Controversy hung over the final of the 141, though, as Dana Holland (Sr., Glendale Heights, Ill.), who won the bout after a tiebreaker, had his title stripped and given to his opponent after a controversial call at the end of regulation was reviewed. Holland, a two-time winner over No. 2 seed Gabe Vigil of BSU, who defeated his foe, 3-3 on criteria. After holding a 1-0 lead with time advantage in the third period, Vigil escaped to tie it at one. With three seconds left, Holland was taken down and then awarded a penalty point because Vigil was hit with a technical violation of locking hands. At the buzzer, it was 3-2 Vigil, but riding time for Holland tied the match and sent it to overtime. In the extra session, neither wrestler scored sending the bout a 30 second tiebreaker. With Holland on top, he held his opponent down to win on criteria and put the team score at 125-124. The locking hands violation was reviewed by video and overturned.
'I am very proud of these guys,' Thom Ortiz, ASU head coach, said. 'We wrestled such a tough schedule to prepare ourselves for this event and it paid off with the Pac-10 Championship. It is unfortunate with Dana, but that will only make him stronger for the national tournament. For Eric to end his year like this is great for him and for the University. Now we need to take care of business in Kansas City.'
The first match of the night for ASU saw Simpson face Jesse Brock of BSU. Simpson, who scored a 6-2 win over Brock in their only meeting of the year at the Reno tournament, took the only takedown in the match and, coupled with an escape in the third period, won his first Pac-10 title with a 3-2 decision. The win cut the BSU team lead to 125-122 heading into the 141 bout.
Larkin became the second Sun Devil to win four Pac-10 championships in a career with an 11-1 major decision over No. 2 Collin Robertson of Boise State at 149. Larkin scored first on a takedown in the first period and took Robertson to his back for another three points. The Sun Devil senior, who also won at 133 in 1999 and at 141 in 2001 and 2002, also nearly pinned his opponent in the third period and earned the support of the BSU crowd with his dominating season. Larkin improved to 29-0 on the year.
At 165, the Sun Devils' first final not against a Boise State opponent, saw No. 1 Frost face No. 3 Eric Arbogast of Portland State, an opponent the ASU junior defeated earlier this year with a 19-4 technical fall. Frost came out on fire and built an 8-2 lead after two periods. He added two more takedowns to push his lead ahead and ended the match with a 13-4 major decision and win his first conference title.
Owen followed at 174 with ASU's fifth conference title on the night with a 3-1 decision over No. 2 seed Shane Webster of Oregon. Owen took the first match of the year in a 10-4 decision at Oregon and took the upper hand in their latest battle with a takedown in the third period. Owen first escaped the down position to open the final stanza and then hit a takedown with less than a minute remaining. Webster escaped and gave Owen a fight to the end as he fought off the Duck to win his first Pac-10 title.
Redshirt freshman and No. 2 seed Bader advanced to the finals of his first conference tournament and then won the title as he upended No. 4 K.C. Walsh of Boise State. After two scoreless periods, Bader went down to start the third and escaped for a 1-0 lead. After riding Walsh for the entire 2:00 in the second stanza, Walsh was awarded a stalling point to tie the match, but riding time won it for Bader, 2-1. In the duo's only other meeting this year, Walsh held the upper hand with a 5-4 decision victory at the National Duals, on riding time.
The final bout of the night was the heavyweight battle between No. 1 Fluckiger and No. 2 Boe Rushton of BSU. Fluckiger locked in a hold with one minute left in the match and picked up three near fall points to win the match 5-0 and take his second heavyweight title after claiming the same in 2001.
The seven finalists marks the first time since 1985 that the Sun Devils have had such success in the conference meet. At the 1985 event, held in Tempe, ASU won the team title with a school-record seven champions.
Next up for the Sun Devils will be the NCAA Championships in Kansas City, Mo., March 20-22. Eight members of the ASU team will be in the competition, up from the six in the championship
2003 Pac-10 Wrestling ChampionshipsChampionship Final Results133 - Mike SimpsonFinal Simpson decision Jesse Brock (Boise St.), 3-2
141 - #1 Dana HollandFinal No. 2 Gabe Vigil (BSU) decision Holland, 3-2
149 - #1 Eric LarkinFinal Larkin major decision No. 2 Collin Robertson (BSU), 11-1
165 - #1 Nick FrostFinal Frost major decision No. 3 Eric Arbogast (PSU), 13-4
174 - #1 Curtis OwenFinal Owen decision No. 2 Shane Webster (Oregon), 3-1
197 - #2 Ryan BaderFinal Bader decision No. 4 K.C. Walsh (BSU), 2-1
285 - #1 Kellan FluckigerFinal Fluckiger decision No. 2 Boe Rushton (BSU), 5-0
Final Team Scores1. Arizona State 134.02. Boise State 127.03. Oregon State 93.54. Cal Poly 73.55. Oregon 68.06. CS Bakersfield 66.57. UC Davis 46.58. CS Fullerton 44.59. Stanford 37.510. Portland State 31.5