Final Road Duals Await No. 20 Sun Devil Wrestling
Feb. 2, 2005
TEMPE, Ariz. - Following a sweep of the Oregon schools on the road last weekend, the No. 20 Arizona State University wrestling team (7-6-1, 4-0-0 Pac-10) heads to northern California Saturday for its final road duals of the season as the Sun Devils take on Stanford and UC Davis. The Sun Devils and Cardinal meet at noon in Palo Alto, Calif., before the Aggies welcome ASU to Davis, Calif., for a 7 p.m. dual.
NEED THE IN-FOES
The Stanford Cardinal enter the dual with a 5-5-1 overall record and stand 1-3-1 in Pac-10 duals. SU won its only home contest of the season with a 35-14 decision over San Francisco State. The Cardinal are led by undefeated defending NCAA champion Matt Gentry at 157. The Aggies are 4-3-0 on the year and 3-2-0 in the Pac-10. Derek Moore leads the team from his 133 weight class where he is ranked No. 15 in the latest national polls.
PERFECT AGAINST BOTH
Arizona State has never lost to either Stanford or UC Davis in a wrestling dual in its history. Of course, the Sun Devils have never defeated or tied the Aggies either. The ASU-SU series is four-duals deep with the Sun Devils winning the last meeting, a 24-17 decision at the Sun Devil Duals last season. Overall, ASU is 4-0-0 against the Cardinal, winning duals in 1986, 1985 and 1983. The dual with UCD will mark the inaugural meeting of the two conference opponents.
LAST MEETING ON THE ROAD
In the Stanford series, Arizona State is 1-0 in duals contested in Palo Alto, Calif., after winning the first meeting in the history of the series, 30-12, on Jan. 10, 1983.
QUICK REVIEW: NORTHWEST SWEEP
The Sun Devils rebounded nicely from a pair of losses at the NWCA National Duals one week earlier as they defeated Oregon State, 29-9, in Corvallis, Ore., before downing Oregon, 23-15, in Eugene, Ore., the following day. The victories kept Arizona State perfect in the conference at 4-0-0 while also pushing its overall winning percentage above .500 (7-6-1).
C.B. Dollaway had a relatively easy road trip to the Pacific Northwest, needing just 4:13 combined to defeat both of his opponents. In the weekend opener, Dollaway pinned Oregon State's Dan Pitsch, the brother of current Sun Devil Patrick Pitsch, at 2:21. One day later, Dollaway improved upon that time as it took him 1:52 to pin Oregon's Tony Roland. For the season, Dollaway leads the Sun Devils with eight falls. Three of his teammates share a tie for the second most on the team in the same category at three.
WATCH OUT FOR (MILE) STONES!
Cain Velasquez holds a 13-1 record this year in duals and, if he is victorious in the final four duals of the season, could reach 17 victories to tie him for 20th on the all-time single-season list. Three other Sun Devils are nearing significant milestones of their own, though one will more than likely have to wait until next season to eclipse the mark. Jeremy Mendoza has 45 career victories and four more this season would push him to the 50-win plateau. The same goes for Brian Stith, who sits at 47 victories in his career. Ryan Bader has collected 80 victories in his three years and, though it likely will not happen this season, he needs 20 more to become just the 21st Sun Devil to reach 100 wins in a career.
PAC-10 IMPLICATIONS: ASU v. SU
The bout of the weekend could come at 157 when undefeated and top-ranked Matt Gentry faces Brian Stith, who is ranked No. 14 in the nation and second in the Pac-10. The duo have met twice this season with Gentry winning the first bout, 6-3, in the quarterfinals of the Fullerton Open and escaping with a 2-1 tiebreaker decision in the finals of the Reno Tournament. Five other bouts in Palo Alto will pit Top 6 in the conference wrestlers against one another. Those bouts include: No. 4 Jeremy Mendoza vs. No. 6 Nathan Peterson at 125; No. 2 Patrick Williams vs. No. 6 Josh Zupanic at 149; No. 5 Rick Renzi vs. No. 3 Imad Kharbush at 174; No. 2 C.B. Dollaway vs. No. 6 Ryan Hagen at 184; and No. 2 Ryan Bader vs. No. 5 Ian Bork at 197.
PAC-10 IMPLICATIONS: ASU v. UCD
The clash at 184 pounds appears to be the marquee match-up of the dual as No. 2 C.B. Dollaway and No. 3 Brandon Bear meet. The duo have not faced one another yet, but share several common opponents. Earlier in the season, Dollaway dropped a tough 9-7 sudden victory to No. 2 Paul Bradley of Iowa. Two weeks ago, Bear had his turn with Bradley and upset him, 6-5. Two other bouts feature Top 6 conference foes. Those bouts are: No. 2 Patrick Williams vs. No. 4 Daniel Murphree at 149 and No. 2 Brian Stith vs. No. 5 Cooper Fouch at 157.
AROUND THE PROGRAM
Here is an update on several former Sun Devils: Current assistant coach Eric Larkin, a member of the USA Wrestling freestyle team, traveled to Krasnoyarsk, Russia, and represented the United States in the Ivan Yarygin Memorial International on January 30. Unfortunately for Larkin, he suffered a 2-0 defeat in the first round and was eliminated ... 2003 graduate Curtis Owen, currently an assistant coach for football and wrestling locally with Chandler High School, was recently named the December Play It Smart academic coach of the month. He was chosen from more than 120 academic coaches nationwide ... former All-American and assistant coach Zeke Jones, now an assistant coach with West Virginia, was recently selected to enter the USA Wrestling Hall of Fame. Jones was enshrined into the Arizona State Hall of Fame in September, following his coaching duties as a member of the USA Wrestling Freestyle team at the Athens Olympics.
THE FIRST TIME SINCE ...
The tie with Fresno State on Jan. 4 was the first tied finish for the Sun Devils since ASU and Cal State Bakersfield ended their Jan. 31, 1999, dual in Tempe knotted at 18 apiece. The last time ASU was involved in a tied dual was last year at the Virginia Duals when Purdue won on criteria in a 20-20 in the consolation semifinals of the national event.
Brian Stith has been on a tear ever since the New Year, building an 8-2 record in the month of January. Of those eight victories, six have come by major decision with one fall and one decision victory. His two losses both were in the tiebreaker period and decided by one point.
HAPPY TO UPSET
Patrick Pitsch had a nice trip to Oregon State over the weekend. Not only did he get to see his brother, Dan (OSU's 184 starter), he also scored a 3-2 upset of No. 14 Matt Ellis in their 165 bout.
HEAVY ON THE VICTORIES
The three heaviest weights in the Sun Devil lineup have provided the largest impact for the team this year. Arizona State's three starters of C.B. Dollaway (184), Ryan Bader (197) and Cain Velasquez (285) are a combined 70-14 overall with a total of 17 wins by major decision, six by technical fall and another 13 victories by fall. The trio are currently ranked No. 11, No. 7 and No. 4 in the nation, respectively.
THE LEADER OF THE PAC (10)
In the latest conference rankings, the Sun Devils are ranked first as a team (based upon individual rankings). On an individual basis, eight Sun Devils hold rankings with Cain Velasquez (285) leading the way at No. 1. Four wrestlers are ranked No. 2, including Patrick Williams (149), Brian Stith (157), C.B. Dollaway (184) and Ryan Bader (197). Jeremy Mendoza (125) is fourth while Rick Renzi (174) and Patrick Pitsch (165) both sit in the fifth position at their weights.
The Feb. 1 USA Today/NWCA National Top 25 has Arizona State holding onto the No. 20 position following its sweep of Oregon State and Oregon last weekend.
On September 3, 2004, former Sun Devil All-American Steve Blackford lost his life in a tragic automobile accident. A beloved son, brother, nephew and friend, Blackford will be sorely missed by all that were fortunate enough to have met him and especially those who hold a special place in their hearts for him.
The wrestling program will soon have a new training facility on campus to use as a joint effort between the Sunkist Kids and ASU. Ground was broken in early August with the 9,600 square foot building scheduled for completion in December. With 7,200 square feet of usable mat space, the facility will hold three full-size competition mats (40x40) and afford a much larger practice area for the Sun Devils, and Sunkist Kids, to utilize.
A consensus Top 4 pick in this season's preseason individual rankings, Ryan Bader returns for his junior season with hopes of not only adding his third Pac-10 championship title at 197 pounds, but also adding his second All-America honors following a fourth-place finish at the national meet a year ago. Bader has compiled a career record of 57-26 following a stellar 33-8 mark last year on his way to earning a spot among the nation's elite wrestlers and winning tournament titles at the Missouri Open, Reno Tournament of Champions and the Pac-10 Championships.
ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY
Ryan Bader's All-America honor attained last year may have been his first, but it is certainly not the first for the program. Bader's accolade was the 100th award in the history of the program and also continued a streak of 30 years in a row that the Sun Devil program has produced at least one All-American wrestler.
SUN DEVILS COACHING SUN DEVILS
All four members of the Arizona State coaching staff obtained their degrees from ASU while also competing for the Sun Devils during their careers in Tempe. Head Coach Thom Ortiz graduated in 1990 and was a member of the 1988 national championship team. Aaron Simpson was a two-time All-American prior to earning his degree in 1996 and coaching the team for the past seven seasons. Eric Larkin and Kellan Fluckiger both completed their degree work in 2003 following successful campaigns with the maroon and gold. Larkin was the 2003 NCAA champion at 149 and a four-time All-American and conference champion while Fluckiger was an All-American in his senior season while taking home two conference gold medals.
MEET THE MAN IN CHARGE
Thom Ortiz enters his fourth year at the helm of the Sun Devil wrestling program with a 32-20 record as the head coach. Ortiz led the Sun Devils to the 2003 Pac-10 Championship title on the strength of six individual champions and seven total finalists while also guiding current assistant coach Eric Larkin to the NCAA title at 149 pounds in his senior campaign. A graduate of ASU in 1990, Ortiz was a two-time All-American and was a member of the 1988 NCAA Championship Sun Devil team. A three-time Pac-10 champion, Ortiz also was a part of three conference team championships in his time with ASU.
Real Pro Wrestling (RPW) was created in 2002 and held its first show taping Oct. 8-9 in Los Angeles. Eric Larkin, Aaron Simpson, Kellan Fluckiger and Danny Felix all competed for the shows that will begin airing on PAX TV March 31. Teams, results and other information will be released as part of the one-hour shows that will air for 14 weeks in a row with the 15th showing being a two-hour special that features all seven of the championship bouts that pit Olympic caliber freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers against one another (realprowrestling.com).
HOME OF THE SUN DEVILS
Wells Fargo Arena, located adjacent to Sun Devil Stadium, is the home of several of Arizona State's athletic teams, including wrestling, basketball, gymnastics and volleyball. The building has a capacity of 14,198 and has been the host of numerous conference and national events, most recently the 2004 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships. In 2005, the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight for women's basketball will be contested on Ned Wulk Court with the winner heading to the final four.
NEXT TIME OUT
The first of ASU's two remaining duals of the 2004-05 season will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13, as the Sun Devils play host to Portland State. Six days later, ASU will close out the dual season with a 9 a.m. home dual with Cal Poly (Feb. 19).