Larkin, Holland and Fluckiger Remain in Title Hunt at NCAA Meet

March 20, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State wrestling team saw three of its members advance to the quarterfinals of the 2003 NCAA Wrestling Championships Thursday evening in Kansas City, Mo., while four other Sun Devils remained in the hunt to become All-Americans. As a team, the Sun Devils are tied with Northern Iowa for eighth place (18 points) while Oklahoma State leads the nation with 35 points.

Eric Larkin (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.) at 149, Dana Holland (Sr., Glendale Heights, Ill.) at 141 and Kellan Fluckiger (Sr., Preston, Idaho) at heavyweight remain in title contention with their wins in the second session. Rocky Smart (Sr., Pleasant Grove, Utah) at 157, Nick Frost (Jr., Tucson, Ariz.) at 165, Curtis Owen (Sr., Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) at 174 and Ryan Bader (Fr., Verdi, Nev.) at 197 all fell from the championship brackets and await their next opponent in the consolation second round Friday morning. Mike Simpson (So., Anaheim, Calif.) meet some tough competition today and was bumped from the event after two losses.

No. 12 seed Simpson was the first up and dropped a 6-2 decision to No. 5 seed Zach Roberson of Iowa State and was eliminated from the tournament. Simpson ends his second Sun Devil season with a 21-21 record and will enter next year as the defending Pac-10 champion at 133.

No. 7 Holland came though again, this time pinning his Edinboro opponent at 2:49 to advance. With his win over Cory Ace, Holland will now meet West Virginia's Shane Cunanan for All-America honors and a spot in the semifinals. Cunanan, a former Oregon State wrestler, upset the No. 2 seed Zack Esposito of Oklahoma State.

Larkin's quest for his second national final in a row and first national championship stayed on track, much as he did in the Pac-10 championships, by pinning his second opponent in a row. He stuck Cal Poly's Matt Cox at 2:23 while earning his third pin of his Mustang foe this year and the second in the past three weeks. Cox fell to Larkin at 4:37 in the semifinals of the conference meet March 2.

Smart rebounded from an earlier loss to take down Pac-10 foe Brian Cobb of Cal State Bakersfield, 10-6, and earn a rematch with another conference opponent in Jeremiah Jarvis of UC Davis. Jarvis, the 2003 conference champion, defeated Smart in the semifinals of the Pac-10 meet where the Sun Devil finished third.

After defeating Nebraska opponents in the first round, Frost and Owen each tasted defeat in the second round with Frost suffering a 6-3 setback to No. 6 Johnny Clark of Ohio State. Owen also dropped a 6-3 decision with his coming at the hands of Lehigh's No. 7 Brad Dillon. Bader fell to his Lehigh opponent as well, dropping an 11-4 decision to No. 1 seed Jon Trenge.

The final ASU bout of the day saw Fluckiger, seeded No. 4, score a 7-1 decision over Purdue's Israel Blevins. In the quarterfinals, Fluckiger will face No. 5 seed Boe Rushton of Boise State who he defeated 5-0 in the finals of the Pac-10 Championships earlier this month.

Friday morning will feature Session III action that includes two consolation bracket matches in each weight class as well as the championship quarterfinals. The four winners of the championship bracket bouts will earn All-America honors while those in the consolation bracket will have to win three more matches to claim the national distinction.

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