Sun Devil Wrestling Heads East for Virginia Duals

Jan. 10, 2007

Match Notes (pdf) | Roster | Schedule/Results

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University wrestling team will head east this weekend as the Sun Devils (2-6, 1-1 Pac-10) are set to compete in the 27th Virginia Duals in Hampton, Va., Friday and Saturday. Seeded fifth in the team dual event, the Sun Devils will open action Friday at 9 a.m. EST against Virginia (3-3). A Sun Devil victory will send the team to a 1 p.m. EST dual with the winner of fourth-seeded Rider (2-2) and VMI (1-1) while a loss to the Cavaliers in the morning would send the Sun Devils to an elimination dual with the loser of the Rider/VMI dual.

No. 10 Penn State is the top seed in the 16-team tournament while No. 12 Edinboro and No. 22 Kent State round out the Top 3 teams in the event. Also competing are Rider, Old Dominion, Drexel, Bloomsburg, Duquesne, Wyoming, Liberty, Virginia, VMI, The Citadel, Virginia Tech and North Dakota State.

Arizona State is assured of two duals on Friday and will have to win at least one of those two duals to move on to competition Saturday. For results and times of duals once teams advance, visit

With the Duals being held in Hampton, Va., one Sun Devil will have the opportunity to compete in his hometown once again as senior Brian Stith will take the mats for the Sun Devils at 157 pound this weekend.

At the start of his senior season, Brian Stith needed just 12 victories to secure 100 in his career in Tempe. Following a 3-0 performance at the Sun Devil Duals over the weekend and a season record of 11-2, Stith now stands 99-31 overall in his three-plus campaigns with the Sun Devils and will be going for win No. 100 in his hometown of Hampton, Va., this weekend when Arizona State takes part in the Virginia Duals. With one victory, Stith will become the 22nd Sun Devil to reach the century mark in wins and will mark the second year in a row it has happened after Ryan Bader finished his career with 120 wins last year. Ranked No. 6 in the nation heading into the weekend, Stith, a two-time All-American and the NCAA Runner-up in 2006 at 157 pounds, would need four victories to tie for 18th on the ASU list with 103 career wins.

Following their 0-3 record at the Sun Devils over the weekend, the Sun Devils fell from the national rankings and are not receiving votes this week. Only three teams in the Virginia Duals this weekend hold positions in the USA Today/Intermat/NWCA Coaches Top 25 released January 9 and those teams are No. 10 Penn State, No. 12 Edinboro and No. 22 Kent State.

According to the latest NWCA national rankings, only one Sun Devil holds a national ranking this week and that is Brian Stith, who is ranked sixth at 157 pounds.

According to the Pac-10 Individual Rankings that were released January 8, six Sun Devils remain in the Top 6, including Brian Stith (157) and Patrick Pitsch (165) who both are ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes. Also in the rankings this week are No. 3 Greg Gifford (184), No. 4 Jason Trulson (197), No. 5 Pat Payne (141) and No. 6 John Espinoza (125).

The Sun Devils suffered three setbacks at the Sun Devil Duals on Sunday afternoon, dropping a 29-13 decision to American, a 30-14 decision to CS Fullerton and a 38-12 decision to No. 23 Lehigh. Brian Stith (157) went 3-0 for Arizona State with one win by fall and another by technical fall to lead the team. Jason Trulson (197) and John Espinoza (125) both posted 2-1 records on the day.

The Cavaliers are 3-3 overall on the year and 0-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Head Coach Steve Garland's team has two wrestlers ranked in the national Top 20, including No. 10 Eric Albright at 133 pounds and No. 17 Rocco Caponi at 184 pounds.

The dual between Arizona State and Virginia will be the first meeting in the series.

The Broncs stand 2-3 overall on the year and 0-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Head Coach Gary Taylor's team has one nationally ranked wrestler in No. 14 Doug Umbehauer at 174 pounds, the Midlands runner-up this year.

Arizona State won the only meeting in the series, a 19-13 decision at the Reno Duals during the 1997-98 season.

The Keydets are 1-1 overall on the year and stand 0-0 in the Southern Conference. Head Coach John Trudgeon's team has one ranked wrestler nationally in No. 20 Sam Alvarenga at 149 pounds, who recently placed second at the Virginia Intercollegiates.

Arizona State holds a 1-0-0 advantage in its series with VMI, winning the first meeting, 47-0, in the first round of the 1988 Virginia Duals.

Here is how the series records look for the Sun Devils against the remaining teams entered into the 2007 Virginia Duals: Arizona State is 3-1-0 all-time against Bloomsburg, 1-1-0 all-time against Edinboro, 1-0-0 all-time against Liberty, 3-3-1 all-time against Penn State and 10-6-0 all-time against Wyoming. The Sun Devils have never faced teams from The Citadel, Drexel, Duquesne, Kent State, North Dakota State, Old Dominion and Virginia Tech.

With their 38-12 defeat of Portland State, ASU improved to 31-14 in their first home dual of the season and moved to 32-13 all-time in the first dual of the season.

Seven different wrestlers picked up their first wins in a Sun Devil singlet over the opening weekend, including two true freshmen, three redshirt freshmen and two transfers. Greg Gifford, who spent the past three seasons with Fresno State before the program was cut, went 2-0 on the weekend for his first wins with the program and also picked up the 70th win of his collegiate career. Another transfer, Chris Remsen, also secured the first wins of his career, going 2-0 on the weekend at 149 after dropping all four of his bouts at 174 last year. The NC State transfer is now 2-4 on his career. True freshmen Shawn Jones and Angel Alegre each won one bout at 133 for victories in their first collegiate bouts while redshirted athletes Robert Galvan (141), Jake Cranford (197) and Thor Moen (285) made the most of their first bouts following a season off from competition with victories in their debuts. Following the Fullerton Open, Jonathan Prince, a sophomore transfer, added his name.

After redshirting last year, Thor Moen got his first opportunity to compete for the Sun Devils Sunday, but did not spend much time on the mat as he pinned his foe in 3:56. Moen was one of two Sun Devils that recorded the first pin falls of their collegiate careers as Jason Trulson also won by fall, pinning his opponent in 1:40.

Despite their 0-3 performance over the weekend, the Sun Devils stand to 448-250-12 all-time in dual competition and need two more wins to reach the 450-win plataeu. The last two milestone victories came under the leadership of current coach Thom Ortiz as he guided his squad to a 36-9 defeat of Portland State on December 5, 2002, for the 400th victory in program history before seeing his Sun Devils down CS Bakersfield, 20-19, on January 10, 2005, for the 425th victory. Both victories came in Tempe.

ASU also needs just two more home victories to reach 200 in the history of the program. Arizona State won the 175th home dual on Jan. 5, 2003, when they defeated Embry-Riddle, 46-0, with the 150th victory coming on Jan. 9, 1997, in a 19-16 defeat of visiting Iowa State. The next home event for the Sun Devils will be January 7 when they play host to American, CS Fullerton and Lehigh for the Sun Devil Duals.

Arizona State had won 17 Pac-10 duals in a row (went 8-0-0 over the previous two seasons) and where unbeaten in conference duals at 29 in a row (28-0-1) before sustaining a 30-14 loss at home to CS Fullerton over the weekend. The loss to the Titans also snapped a 15-dual winning streak over CSUF. The last time ASU did not win at home against a Pac-10 foe came during the 1998-99 season when ASU and CS Bakersfield fought to an 18-18 tie in Tempe. The last home loss in conference action came during the 1996-97 campaign when CSUB defeated ASU, 21-18. Overall in his coaching career, Thom Ortiz is 34-3-0 in duals with Pac-10 foes.

Looking at the preseason team rankings released by the NWCA and InterMat, the Sun Devils will face at least seven of the teams ranked in the Top 25, including five of the Top 9 teams in the nation. Those teams include No. 1 Minnesota, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Iowa, No. 6 Iowa State, No. 9 Cornell, No. 20 Cal Poly and No. 21 Lehigh. The Sun Devils will meet Oklahoma, Cal Poly and Lehigh at home with the others taking place on the road.

After opening his senior campaign with a 2-0 record, No. 1 Brian Stith headed to the 41st NWCA All-Star Classic presented by the United States Marines Corps in Dallas. In a bout that featured No. 1 Stith and No. 2 Travis Paulson of Iowa State, neither man scored in the first period with Stith winning the flip and deferring. Paulson started the second period down and quickly escaped for the only scoring in the period. Stith, however, could not escape quickly and when he did to tie the match, Paulson had accumulated over one minute of riding time to secure the win, 2-1.

With Stith's 2-1 setback in Dallas this week at the All-Star Classic, the Sun Devils are now 10-12-1 all-time as 23 different wrestlers have competed in the event.

Head Coach Thom Ortiz and the Sun Devil wrestling program have received National Letters of Intent from three high school seniors that have chosen to continue their education and wrestling careers at Arizona State next academic year. The trio of signees include Vincent Varela (Rio Rancho, N.M.), Kyle DeBerry (Tucson, Ariz.) and Jesse Robbins (Oviedo, Fla.) with all three ranked in the Top 150 according to InterMat's Recruiting Rankings with Varela ranked No. 18, DeBerry No. 45 and Robbins No. 101. Varela is a three-time state champ and ranked second in the nation at 135 pounds, DeBerry is a three-time state champion and ranked third in the nation at 160 while Robbins is a two-time Greco-Roman national champion and ranked fifth nationally at 171.

Arizona State sent five of its wrestlers to the finals of the 2006 Pac-10 Championships with Patrick Pitsch (165), Ryan Bader (197) and Cain Velasquez (285) winning individual crowns to help the Sun Devils secure their second Pac-10 team title in a row and the 16th in program history following the tournament held at Stanford. The crown gave the Sun Devils their first back-to-back championships since winning the 1997 and 1998 titles. This year's team will look to secure its third crown in a row, marking the first time the program won more than two in a row since Bobby Douglas' squads won seven in a row between 1985-91.

For the fourth time in the five years Thom Ortiz has been the head coach, the Sun Devils placed in the Top 15 at the NCAA Championships as his squad placed sixth one year ago in Oklahoma City. Four All-Americans helped the maroon and gold to their second-highest finish under Ortiz (fifth in 2003) with Brian Stith leading the charge as the national runner-up at 157. He was joined by Cain Velasquez (4th at HWT), C.B. Dollaway (5th at 184) and Ryan Bader (7th at 197) on the podium at the end of the meet to help ASU accumulate 61.5 points, just one-half of one point from a fifth-place tie with Cornell (62.0) and 8.5 points from fourth-place Iowa (70.0) and a team trophy.

Brian Stith is the lone returning All-American for the Sun Devils having secured the national honor each of the last two seasons. His first honor came in 2005 when he placed sixth in the nation before finishing as the runner-up last year after entering the tournament as the No. 10 seed. An All-America accolade for Stith this season would make him the 13th Sun Devil to earn three honors in a career and the first since Eric Larkin earned four All-America honors (1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003).

A pair of middle-weights return this season with hopes of collecting their second individual Pac-10 crown. Brian Stith won his first crown in 2005 when he upset defending conference and NCAA champion Matt Gentry of Stanford in the 157 final before earning his first All-America honor. Stith placed second last year, falling to Ben Cherrington of Boise State. The second returning champion is Patrick Pitsch, who captured the 165 title last year as the tournament's three-seed. Pitsch went on to fall one victory short of All-America honors at the national championships and will look for his first national award this year.

The coaching staff welcomed a new volunteer coach to the fold this season as Travis Koppenhafer, the 2004 NCAA Division II Champion at 157 pounds for Adams State College, has joined the Sun Devils. A three-time All-American for ASC, Koppenhafer will work with the middle-weights, including Brian Stith and Patrick Pitsch, among others.

Wells Fargo Arena serves as the home of Arizona State's home wrestling duals, as well as basketball (men and women), gymnastics and volleyball. Opened in the spring of 1974, the 14,198-seat arena has been the home venue of some of the Sun Devil greats with all 16 Pac-10 team titles and one of the two Western Athletic Conference crowns attained by ASU. Since its opening, 56 Sun Devils have captured 106 individual conference titles while 67 different athletes have earned a total of 98 All-America honors.

Since becoming a varsity program in 1962, Arizona State has competed in the NCAA Championships all 43 years and scored at least one point in 38 of those tournaments, including each of the last 31 in a row. During this time, the Sun Devils have had 60 different student-athletes secure a combined total of 102 All-America honors while helping the team place in the Top 10 on 18 occasions and in the Top 5 seven times, including a NCAA title in 1988 and runner-up finishes in both 1989 and 1990.

Since 1928, the NCAA has conducted a wrestling championship with 11 different schools claiming the crown. In 1988, Arizona State won the title and still is the only Western team to have done so in the history of the event. Based on geographical location, when removing ASU from the list, the most western team to win a title would be Oklahoma, who has won seven. The schools that have won crowns include Oklahoma State (33), Iowa (20), Iowa State (8), Oklahoma (7), Minnesota (2) and the following schools with one each: Arizona State, Cornell College (of Iowa), Indiana, Michigan State, Northern Iowa and Penn State.

On Saturday, January 7, 2006, the Sun Devils dedicated their new training facility in a joint celebration with the gymnastic team. The Riches Wrestling Complex, the John Spini Women's Gymnastics Training Center and the Cavanagh/Dickey Olympic Sports Plaza were dedicated and showcased as fans and over 200 supporters toured two of the premier training centers in the nation while both teams showcased their teams by holding practices. The facilities are located off Sixth Street behind the Kajikawa Football Practice Fields and beyond the outfield wall at Farrington Softball Stadium.

The Sun Devils return to action next weekend with a pair of tough duals as they play host to CS Bakersfield January 19 at 7:00 p.m. inside Wells Fargo Arena before traveling to New York for a 1 p.m. EST dual Sunday against No. 13 Cornell.