ASU Wrestler Eric Larkin Honored as 2003 Dan Hodge Award Winner

April 3, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. - Senior Eric Larkin (Tucson, Ariz.) has added another award to his mantle as he was named the 2003 Dan Hodge Award winner Wednesday by the International Wrestling Institute and Museum and WIN Magazine. The Hodge Award, in its ninth year of existence and highly regarded as the 'Heisman Trophy' of amateur wrestling, is awarded annually to the top collegiate wrestler in the nation. Larkin follows three-time award winner Cael Sanderson, the four-time undefeated NCAA champion from Iowa State who finished his career last year at 158-0.

'I am very proud of Eric,' Thom Ortiz, ASU head coach, said. 'This is a tremendous honor for him and for our entire program. Eric is following Cael, who won this award the last three years. Whoever follows Cael has to be a pretty special wrestler. We are very excited for Eric and know he is well-deserving of this honor.'

Larkin dominated his opponents this year enroute to a perfect 34-0 record and the NCAA championship at 149 pounds. He won 20 of his matches with bonus point victories with 11 coming by pinfall, two by technical fall and seven by major decision. Only five times did the final buzzer sound with Larkin's opponent within three points of him. A career 123-12, he tied for the sixth-most wins in school history, using the third-most pins (36) to his advantage. Larkin also tied for 13th in dual match wins with 48.

'Everything just came together for me this year,' Larkin said following his national championship victory. 'I am just happy to finally reach my goals. I just kept wrestling hard until I finally won the national title. All the hard work was worth it to get to this point.'

The first Sun Devil to be named the Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Championships, Larkin became the sixth ASU grappler to win a national title. He also was the fourth to earn All-America honors four times in his career and the first to accomplish the feat wrestling at three different weight classes. He finished fourth as a freshman at 133, third as a sophomore at 141 and was national runner-up last year at 141 before claiming his national title.

Larkin also was a force in the Pac-10 Conference, winning four conference crowns at three weights and earning the tournament's outstanding wrestler award the past three years. He also was named the Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year for the past three years. He also never lost a match to a conference opponent at any point in his career, including dual meets and tournaments.

Adding to his awards and honors, Larkin also won the Las Vegas Invitational this year and was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler. At the Pac-10 Championships, Larkin also was named the outstanding wrestler and picked up the Most Falls in Least Time Award by pinning three opponents in 6:03.

Perhaps one of the greatest wrestlers to compete for Arizona State in its over 40 year history, Larkin helped the team to fifth place at the national meet this year, its best finish since 1995 when the team came home fourth. In conference, Larkin was a member of two Pac-10 championship teams including this year as the Sun Devils overcame a tough crowd in Boise, Idaho.

The Hodge Selection Committee will formerly present the prestigious award to Larkin April 15 at the Sun Devil wrestling team's annual awards banquet. Arizona State University also will present the Hodge Award to Larkin during the Sun Devils' football game with conference foe USC on Oct. 4 at Sun Devil Stadium.

The award, named for legendary Oklahoma Sooner wrestler Dan Hodge, takes in to consideration a wrestlers dominance on the mat, his number of pins, his overall record, past credentials, the quality of competition he faces, his sportsmanship, his citizenship and his heart. Hodge exemplified that going 46-0 in his collegiate career and winning three national titles (1955-57) while never surrendering a takedown. Also considered for the award were three other national champions from 2003: Cornell's Travis Lee (34-0 at 125), Illinois' Matt Lackey (38-0 at 165) and Iowa's Steve Mocco (36-0 at heavyweight).

Previous Dan Hodge Award Winners
2002 - Cael Sanderson (Iowa State)
2001 - Cael Sanderson (Iowa State) and Nick Ackerman (Simpson College)
2000 - Cael Sanderson (Iowa State)
1999 - Stephen Neal (Cal State Bakersfield)
1998 - Mark Ironside (Iowa)
1997 - Kerry McCoy (Penn State)
1996 - Les Gutches (Oregon State)
1995 - T.J. Jaworsky (North Carolina)

Awards, Honors and Titles Secured By Eric Larkin in 2003
- Dan Hodge Award
- NCAA Champion
- NCAA Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships
- NCAA All-American (fourth time)
- Pac-10 Champion (fourth time)
- Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year
- Pac-10 Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament
- Pac-10 Most Falls in Least Time Award (3 in 6:03)
- Las Vegas Invitational Champion
- Las Vegas Invitational Outstanding Wrestler

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