Training Home of Sun Devil Wrestling also Trains Nation's Best

May 21, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Riches Wrestling Complex, the training home of Arizona State University wrestling and one of USA Wrestling's Olympic Regional Training sites, recently welcomed some of the nation's top international competitors for a World Team training session. Sponsored by the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club, several wrestlers came to Tempe between May 11-17 to prepare for the World Team Trials that will be contested in Las Vegas, Nev., June 9-10.

Several top-notch wrestlers were on hand to train, including seven men ranked in the Top 10 on the May 2007 USA Wrestling Freestyle lists. Among those wrestlers were four ranked in the Top 2, including Chris Bono (No. 1 at 66kg), Joe Williams (No. 1 at 84kg), Nick Simmons (No. 2 at 55kg) and Casey Cunningham (No. 2 at 74kg). Also ranked in the Top 10 were No. 6 Zach Roberson (60kg), No. 2 Ben Askren (74kg) and current ASU assistant coach Eric Larkin (No. 7 at 66kg).

Here are some of the top competitors that were on hand for the training sessions:
• Eric Larkin: a current assistant coach for the Sun Devils, Larkin won the 2003 NCAA title at 149 for ASU and was named the Dan Hodge Award Winner that year after capping a four All-American campaign
• Nick Simmons: was a four-time All-American at Michigan State
• Ben Askren: won the last two NCAA Championships at 174 pounds by going undefeated at Missouri. The four-time All-American also was named the Dan Hodge Award Winner each of the past two years
• Max Askren: younger brother of Ben Askren, Max was the No. 1 seed at 197 in the NCAA Championships this past year as a redshirt freshman
• Joe Williams: a three-time NCAA Champion at Iowa before adding six USA Championships, five World Team appearances and three Olympic appearances
• Chris Bono: a three-time All-American at Iowa State, Bono was also an NCAA Champion before earning berths on two World Teams
• Zach Roberson: the former Iowa State standout was a three-time All-American and one-time champion
• Casey Cunningham: the first NCAA Division I individual national champion in the history of all sports at Central Michigan, Cunningham was also a two-time All-American

Kenny Monday, the 1988 Olympic Champion, was on hand in a coaching capacity. Monday, the first African-American to earn gold in Olympic wrestling history, was a three-time All-American and one-time NCAA Champion at Oklahoma State before finding success internationally.

Also assisting with coaching duties during the training camp were current Sun Devil Head Coach Thom Ortiz, a three-time All-American at ASU and member of the 1988 NCAA Championship team, and Sun Devil Assistant Coach Aaron Simpson, a two-time All-American during his days in Tempe.

Former Sun Devils Zeke Jones, the current head coach at Penn, and Shawn Charles were on hand to coach the freestyle wrestlers while James Johnson, a two-time Greco-Roman national champion and World Team member, also advised the wrestlers in attendance.

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