Sun Devil Wrestling Staff Adds NCAA Champion Eric Larkin

July 16, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. - Eric Larkin, a former national champion and four-time All-American at Arizona State, has been hired as an assistant coach, Thom Ortiz, the Sun Devils' head coach, announced Friday. Larkin, who competed for the program from 1998-2003 and recently finished third at the US Olympic Team Trials, will begin his duties immediately and will assist with the training of the team's members in the lower weight classes.

'I feel that our coaching staff is now complete with Eric working with the light weights and Aaron Simpson working with our heavier weights,' Ortiz said. 'Eric will be able to show them the techniques that made him a national champion and help them succeed on the mat. I think he is very excited to get into the (wrestling) room full time and will be able to bring a lot of enthusiasm back into the training sessions as far as showing what it takes to be a national champion. He will serve as a great role model for the guys on the team and also give them a great competitor to train with.'

The most decorated wrestler in ASU history, Larkin capped a perfect 34-0 senior campaign with the 149 pound NCAA title and was named the Dan Hodge Award winner, given annually to the top collegiate wrestler in the nation. A four-time All-American and four-time Pac-10 Champion, Larkin also was the first Sun Devil to earn the Outstanding Wrestler Award at the NCAA meet. He also was a finalist for the 2003 Best Collegiate Male Athlete ESPY. The 2003 Pac-10 Medal of Honor winner, Larkin also was a three-time Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year selection while building a 123-12 career record.

'It feels great to be back with the team,' Larkin said. 'I am very excited to get back into the wrestling room and get back to training with the guys. I have trained with many of the guys on the team in the past and now I hope I can give back to the program and get Arizona State back on top of the college standings. I feel I can help the athletes reach their goals and I know that by training with them, they will help me improve my skills as well.'

While Larkin competed at 133, 141 and 149 pounds as a collegian, he now competes internationally at 66kg (145.5). Larkin will look to help Sun Devils competing at 125, 133, 141, 149 and 157 pounds improve upon their skills while also training to compete on his own during the off season.

'While he is training our wrestlers, he also will be training for the (2005) World Championships and eventually a berth on the Olympic Team in 2008,' Ortiz said. 'He will be able to stay in shape by teaching our team while they can give back to him as well. We think he can make the national team and all of us will do what we can to help him attain his goals, just as he will be on hand to help our student-athletes try to attain their own.'

Just the sixth Sun Devil to win a national title, Larkin always advanced far at the NCAA meet, placing fourth at 133 pounds as a freshman, third at 141 pounds as a sophomore, second at 141 as a junior and first at 149 as a senior.

'I think I bring intensity and experience to the team and that will help them in the long run,' Larkin said. 'I have been through the college ranks and know what it takes to be successful. Every time I went to the national meet, I earned All-America honors, so I know how to be prepared and that will go along way with their training.'

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