Wrestling Stands 13th Following First Session of NCAA Championships

March 20, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State wrestling team had a solid outing in the first session of the NCAA Championships in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday at six Sun Devils won their opening round matches to advance to the second round of the tournament. As a team, Oklahoma State has taken the early lead with 19.5 points while ASU is in a tie for 13th place with 10 points.

The day opened with No. 12 seed Mike Simpson (So., Anaheim, Calif.) dropping a tough 8-5 decision to Sacred Heart's Jason Cucolo. Simpson, who won his first Pac-10 title two weeks ago, will now face another upset victim in No. 5 seed Zach Roberson of Iowa State as both men face elimination from the event. The Sun Devils rebounded, though, by winning its next two matches, starting with No. 7 seed Dana Holland (Sr., Glendale Heights, Ill.)

Holland faced Ohio State's Jeff Ratliff and won the 141 bout, 5-3. Holland ran off 12 wins in a row in December and won two tournament titles while placing second in another with Ratliff being the second win in that stretch in a 7-5 overtime battle at the Las Vegas Invitational. Holland will now face Edinboro's Cory Ace, who upset No. 10 seed Gabe Vigil from Boise State.

Up next was No. 1 seed Eric Larkin (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.). Larkin, undefeated this year at 29-0, picked up win No. 30 with his pin at 0:49 over Wisconsin's Ed Gutnik. The momentum for the team did not carry over to 157 where Rocky Smart (Sr., Pleasant Grove, Utah) was defeated 17-1 by fifth-seeded Gray Maynard of Michigan State.

The Sun Devils picked up steam, however, and came out to win the next four bouts. Nick Frost (Jr., Tucson, Ariz.) got the ball rolling with his 5-4 upset of No. 11 Jacob Klein of Nebraska. No. 10 Curtis Owen (Sr., Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) had to battle another Husker as he needed overtime to score another takedown and defeat Travis Pascoe, 6-4.

Ryan Bader (Fr., Verdi, Nev.) won his first NCAA match at 197 in the same fashion as Owen. Bader faced Adam Schaaf of MIllersville and scored a takedown in the extra session to win the bout, 6-4. Kellan Fluckiger (Sr., Preston, Idaho), seeded No. 4 in the heavyweight division, scored an 8-1 decision over Mike Carroll of Drexel to complete the Sun Devils' opening round action.

Session II will run Thursday evening at Kemper Arena with consolation first and second round matches and another round of championship action.

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