Sun Devils in Ninth Place After First Day of NCAA Wrestling Championships

March 15, 2001

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Sophomore All-American Eric Larkin and junior David Douglas advance to tomorrow morning's championship quarterfinals, while Arizona State's six additional qualifiers also remain alive in the consolation rounds, lifting the Sun Devils to a ninth-place team standing after the first day of competition at the 2001 NCAA Wrestling Championships at the University of Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday.

Douglas, the No. 11 seed at 133 pounds who upset the No. 6 seed Rob Loper from Pittsburgh in the second round of competition Thursday night, along with Larkin are 2-0 in the double elimination tournament and still in possible contention for individual national titles.

But perhaps the biggest news for the Sun Devils was the first-round upset of Steve Blackford by un-seeded Chris Vitale of Lehigh, a 12-9 loss that dashed the two-time All-American's hopes of an NCAA crown. Blackford, who can only finish as high as third, avoided elimination and came roaring back with a 12-2 major decision over Oregon State's Jed Pennell in his evening consolation match.

Joining Blackford advancing in the consolation brackets with 1-1 records and battling for third place finishes are sophomore Rocky Smart (157), sophomore Kellan Fluckiger (HWT), junior Dana Holland (149), junior Curtis Owen (174) and senior R.D. Pursell.

'With the exception of Steve's first round loss, we wrestled the way we were expected to wrestle,' ASU head coach Lee Roy Smith said. 'We had a couple of close losses in the second round that could have gone either way with Rocky at 157 and Kellan at heavyweight. But if we can keep Douglas and Larkin going in the championship bracket, that's where we're going to get the big points. You also get big points coming back for third. It's going to be a war for the guys in the consolations, and they are just going to have to take it one battle at a time.'

Douglas and Larkin both advanced to tomorrow morning's championship quarterfinals, with back-to-back second round wins on mat number three.

Douglas, a No. 11 seed at 133 pounds, pulled an upset over No. 6 seed Rob Loper from Pittsburgh with a 9-1 major decision. Douglas, who will face third-seed Todd Beckerman of Nebraska tomorrow, turned in a takedown and three-point near-fall in the first period en route to the victory. He breezed through his first round match, racking up four takedowns and a three-point near fall, before finally pinning Travis Drake of Applachian State in six minutes, 30 seconds.

Larkin also took one step closer to a national crown at 141 pounds, winning his 15th straight bout with a 10-4 decision over Fresno State's Ralph Lopez. After a 3-3 tie, Larkin earned two takedowns to break away from Lopez. Tomorrow in the quarterfinals, Larkin will face No. 4 seed Sean Gray of Virginia Tech. In the first round, Larkin gave the Sun Devils their second victory of the morning, earning 14-5 major decision over Northern Iowa's Mark Rial. Larkin turned in a takedown and two three-point near falls before Rial was able to muster a point of any kind.

At 157 pounds, sophomore Rocky Smart, the 10th seed, lost a heartbreaker in Thursday night's championship second round action, falling to Iowa State's Cole Sanderson, the seventh seed, 6-4 in overtime. Smart took a 2-1 lead with a first period takedown, only to have Sanderson score two escapes and a takedown to go ahead 4-2. Smart fought his way back to tie the score 4-4 at the end of the third period, but with six seconds left in overtime, Sanderson earned the winning takedown. Smart, who will compete in the consolation tomorrow, won his first round match with a 6-2 decision of Michigan's Pat Owen.

Sophomore Kellan Fluckiger, who received a first-round bye as the No. 10 seed, also competed in the championship second round, losing to seventh seed Billy Blunt of Fresno State by a slim 4-3 margin.

Junior Dana Holland rebounded from a first-round loss to No. 1 seed Reggie Wright at 149 pounds, and pinned Scott Frohardt of Air Force in just 2:08, remaining alive in the consolation round as well.

Putting a positive note on the completion of the day included Curtis Owen's 15-9 consolation victory over Northern Iowa's Eric Brown at 174 pounds and R.D. Pursell's 13-3 major decision victory over John Garriques of Seton Hall, as both Sun Devils advance to competition tomorrow.The highlight of the day for the two-session total of 25,920 in attendance at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena was the huge upset by Iowa's unseeded Mike Zadich of undefeated and top-seed

Reggie Wright of Oklahoma State in the second round at 149 pounds.NCAA wrestling action continues tomorrow with the championship quarterfinals and wrestlebacks beginning at 9 a.m. MST, with semifinals and more wrestlebacks to follow at 4:30 p.m. MST. Minnesota leads team scoring with 41.50 points, followed a tie for second with Iowa and Oklahoma State (36.5 points).

Arizona State NCAA Wrestling Championship ResultsCarver-Hawkeye Arena, University of Iowa

First and Second Session Results
Session I - First Round - Thursday, March 15
133 Pounds: #11 David Douglas (ASU) pinned Travis Drake (Applachian State), 6:30
141 Pounds: #3 Eric Larkin (ASU) major dec. Mark Rial (Northern), 14-5
149 Pounds: #1 Reggie Wright (Oklahoma State) dec. Dana Holland (ASU), 9-1
157 Pounds: #10 Rocky Smart (ASU) dec. Pat Owen (Michigan), 6-2
165 Pounds: Chris Vitale (Lehigh) dec. #3 Steve Blackford (ASU), 12-9
174 Pounds: #2 Otto Olson (Michigan) pinned Curtis Owen (ASU), 2:38
184 Pounds: #3 Daniel Cormier (Oklahoma State) pinned R.D. Pursell (ASU), 2:50
HWT: #10 Kellan Fluckiger (ASU) bye

Session II - Championship Round - Thursday, March 15
133: #11 David Douglas (ASU) major dec. #6 Rob Loper (Pittsburgh), 9-1
141: #3 Eric Larkin (ASU) dec. Ralph Lopez (Fresno State), 10-4
157: #7 Cole Sanderson (Iowa State) dec. #10 Rocky Smart (ASU), 6-4 (ot)
HWT: #7 Billy Blunt (Fresno State) dec. #10 Kellan Fluckiger (ASU), 4-3

Session II - Consolation - Thursday, March 15
149: Dana Holland (ASU) pinned Scott Frohardt (Air Force), 2:07
165: #3 Steve Blackford (ASU) major decision Jed Pennell (Oregon State), 12-2
174: Curtis Owen (ASU) dec. Eric Brown (Northern Iowa), 15-9
184: R.D. Pursell (ASU) major dec. John Garriques (Seton Hall), 13-3

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