WRESTLING JOURNAL #8: This Week in ASU Wrestling with Aaron Simpson

Jan. 23, 2006

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1/23/06 - Two Home Pac-10 Wins Before Hitting the Road
Jumping right into it, we felt Jeremy Mendoza was the Wrestler of the Match this weekend as he pinned both of his opponents. Mendoza is now 26-2 this year and leads the team with a 14-1 record in dual matches ad 4-0 against Pac-10 foes.

We are finally into our Pac-10 duals schedule and getting closer and closer to the NCAA tournament. I will start off by saying that we did some good things this past weekend and we did some not so good things. We looked a little sluggish against a tough Oregon State team on Friday night. Jeremy Mendoza has been finding a way to put people away with the pin, but he is still struggling to put that perfect match together. He will really need to pick it up for his next match against Cal Poly's Chad Mendez. An update on Jason Robbins, our starter at 141, is he is still healing up an injury suffered at the National Duals. We will look to get him back as soon as he is released to compete. It is nice to see Pat Payne wrestling so tough with some good leg attacks on his feet. His win against Oregon State was against a tough opponent, yet he still found a way to get his hand raised. He is starting to get back to where he was when he competed so well in December. Brian Stith is also wrestling and training very well. We are excited to see him wrestle for a national title in March.

A big match came for Patrick Pitsch on Sunday against Oregon's Joey Bracamonte. There is a little history with Joey, ASU and Coach Ortiz. Joey has a lot of family from Tucson and grew up cheering for the Sun Devils. Joey is from New Mexico and brings a large family of loud supporters whenever he competes. It is nice to see a close family like his altogether cheering him on, but, on the other hand, he got out of Tempe with a fortunate win. You see, Pitsch was wrestling him tough. Pat was training this whole week with an upset in mind. He knew he could beat Bracamonte and found himself with a one point lead with about 30 seconds left in the match. There was only one problem: Pat thought the score was tied, 5-5. With the crowd going nuts and coaches yelling, Pat went for what he thought was the match winning takedown. In Pat's defense, you have to admire a kid for going after the win and not trying to go into overtime. Yet, as a coach, you wonder where the fault lies. Are we to blame for the lack of communication? We as coaches believe you should always know the score. You should be aware of what has transpired. If you are playing football and there are two minutes on the clock and you are down by two with no timeouts, you know that you need to move the ball down the field, get out of bounds to stop the clock and kick a game-winning field goal. That is something you must be aware of. I can guarantee you Pat will not make that mistake again. I also know he looks forward to a rematch come Pac-10 tourney time. We will have him ready.

We also had a tough match against Oregon's defending Pac-10 champion and All-American Shane Webster at 184. C.B. Dollaway just did not look like his normal self. Once agains, he needs to be more consistent with his matches. These two will meet again, but the next time will mean a little more.

On Friday night, Ryan Bader wrestled Pitsch's brother, Dan, for the second time this season. This time, Dan came out hard and battled Bader, but in the end, it was Bader's athleticism and will to win that proved to be the difference. Bader just knows how to get his hand raised. It is not always the prettiest win, but it is a win none-the-less. He is a very consistent wrestler who is still getting better.

Finally, Cain Velasquez had a major decision against Oregon State and a technical fall against Oregon. After Friday night's win against Oregon State, Cain was visibly upset with his performance. Fans came up to me after the match and asked why he was upset. They said, 'He majored his kid. Why was he angry?' My response: 'Cain only wants to dominate. If he feels that he did not dominate, then he is unhappy. He has such high expectations of himself, that when he does not meet them, he is not happy.' I can respect that. As a coach, you want to see your athlete give 100% for the entire match. When you have a guy like Cain on your team, then you have someone for the others to emulate. Our younger wrestlers should learn from Cain. They should see his mental toughness and his desire to dominate. They should want the same for themselves. We will definitely miss that next year with Cain's graduation. Hopefully someone will step up and carry on that style.

In closing, I would like to thank some of our past alums who showed up to our matches. On Friday, I had to pleasure of finally meeting three-time All-American John Ginther. John was in town and came by to check out the new wrestling facility and watched us compete. Also in attendance that night was former All-American Jim Gressley. These two were a major part of ASU's dominant years in college wrestling and really helped put us on the map nationally. At Sunday's match, I saw one of the original greats, Coach Glenn McMinn Sr. He usually grabs Coach Ortiz or myself after the match and gives us some pointers as to what he was seeing our guys do both good and bad. In our opinion, when someone like Glenn McMinn is talking wrestling, you just sit and learn!

We are closing in on February and only have two home duals left. One of the duals will be at an off campus sight in the West Valley. We are trying to hold it close to the Arizona High School State Wrestling Tournament on February 10 when we dual Fresno State. Then, on February 12, we give our four seniors one last hurrah as we wrestle Stanford at Well Fargo Arena at 2 p.m. Make sure you come out and support seniors Mendoza, Dollaway, Bader, Velasquez and Marc Rizio in the final home dual of their careers!

We go on the road this upcoming weekend with a hectic road trip throughout California. We will take our unbeaten Pac-10 record into hostile territory wrestling Cal Poly on Friday night (7 p.m.), Cal State Bakersfield Sunday at noon and finally Cal State Fullerton Sunday at 6 p.m. Wish us luck and remember, GO DEVILS!

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