Three Sun Devils Earn All-America Honors at NCAA Wrestling Championships

March 16, 2001

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Junior David Douglas, sophomore Eric Larkin and senior Steve Blackford were assured All-America honors with consolation third-round victories, advancing to the final day of competition and lifting Arizona State's 11th-ranked wrestling team to a 12th-place standing after the second day of the 2001 NCAA Wrestling Championships at the University of Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena Friday.

Both Larkin and Blackford earned major decision victories in their consolation quarterfinal matches, advancing to wrestle for third place national finishes tomorrow morning. Larkin, the No. 3 seed at 141 pounds, will face fourth-seeded Sean Gray of Virginia Tech, while Blackford, the third-seed at 165 pounds, will face fifth-seed Matt Lackey of Illinois in the consolation semifinals.

Douglas won the match that assured him All-America honors, but lost his consolation quarterfinal and will wrestle for seventh place tomorrow.

Heading into tomorrow's finals, the Sun Devils are tied for 12th with Wisconsin (39.5 points). Host Iowa leads the team race with 112 points, followed by Minnesota with 109.5 and Oklahoma State with 106.

'We have three wrestlers going tomorrow, but I felt coming in we could potentially have a couple more All-Americans,' ASU head coach Lee Roy Smith said. 'Once Rocky (Smart) strained his ACL again against (Cole) Sanderson in overtime yesterday, it's an awful difficult tournament and a very tough weight (157) class to be able to wrestle through with an injury. Kellan (Fluckiger) was defeated by two wrestlers that are now All-Americans, so he had some tough draws.'

Blackford, who rebounded from his first opening-round loss in four NCAA appearances Thursday, becomes the eighth all-time Sun Devil to end his career as a three-time All-American. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Blackford now ranks second on ASU's all-time win list with 137 victories, including five here in Iowa City. In the fourth session of competition Friday night, Blackford earned a 5-2 decision over Chris Martin of Virginia Tech and an 11-3 major decision over Iowa's Ben Shirk.

'I'm really proud of Steve battling back the way he has,' Smith said. 'As a senior, sometimes a lot goes through your head when it's your last time and you've already been an All-American, but I'm proud of the way he's responding.'

Larkin, now the 14th all-time Sun Devil to become a two-time All-American, turned in a 10-6 decision over Michigan State's Mike Castillo and an 11-2 major decision over Minnesota's Chad Erikson in the fourth session Friday night.

'I'm really proud of the way Eric wrestled tonight,' Smith said. 'He has missed a lot of mat time this season with surgery on both knees and he's starting to get his timing back now. It looks like he's getting stronger as the tournament goes on.'

Douglas earned the first All-America honors of his career with a 5-2 decision over Dylan Long of Northern Iowa, before falling in overtime to Oklahoma's Witt Durden 6-4.All eight of ASU's qualifiers advanced to the second day of competition, but only three Sun Devils advanced past the third session Friday morning.

Douglas and Larkin were the remaining Sun Devils in the championship quarterfinals this morning, but both failed to advance, suffering their first losses of the tournament.Douglas, the No. 11 seed at 133 pounds, lost a tough 2-0 decision to No. 3 seed Todd Beckerman of Nebraska. Beckerman's takedown with approximately 30 seconds left in the second period made the difference.

The No. 3 seed at 141 pounds, Larkin was upset by 11th-seed Grant Hoerr of Wisconsin 3-2, whose riding time in the third period proved to be the tiebreaker. Hoerr scored a takedown in the first period, while Larkin evened the score with a takedown of his own in the second period. The two wrestled to a scoreless third frame, but Hoerr's advantage time sent Larkin to the consolation bracket.

Eliminated this morning with second-round consolation losses were junior Dana Holland at 149 pounds, sophomore Rocky Smart, the No. 10 seed at 157, junior Curtis Owen at 174 pounds, R.D. Pursell at 184 and sophomore Kellan Fluckiger, the No. 10 seed at heavyweight.

Holland was pinned by sixth-seed Eric Schmiesing of Hofstra in 6:25, while Smart suffered a 4-1 upset loss to un-seeded Josh Jansen of Ohio State. Owen fell victim to a 5-3 decision by 12th-seed Ati Connor of Nebraska. Tied up at 1-1 with 14 seconds left in the third period, Boise State's Cash Edwards, the No. 9 seed, scored a takedown on Pursell, and went on to earn the 3-2 decision. And after falling behind 4-1 in the second period, Fluckiger was upset by un-seeded James Huml of Oklahoma State, 5-3.

The 2001 NCAA Wrestling Championships conclude Saturday with the third, fifth and seventh place matches slated for 7 a.m. MST, followed by the championship matches at 11:30 p.m. MST. The championships will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. MST.

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

Session III - Championship Quarterfinals - Friday, March 16
133: #3 Todd Beckerman (Nebraska) dec. #11 David Douglas (ASU), 2-0
141: #11 Grant Hoerr, (Wisconsin) dec. #3 Eric Larkin (ASU), 3-2

Session III - Consolation Second Rounds - Friday March 16
149: #6 Eric Schmiesing (Hofstra) pinned Dana Holland (ASU), 6:25
157: Josh Jansen (Ohio State) dec. #10 Rocky Smart (ASU), 4-1
165: #3 Steve Blackford (ASU) major decision Dave Guarino (Buffalo), 12-0
174: #12 Ati Connor (Nebraska) dec. Curtis Owen (ASU), 5-3
184: #9 Cash Edwards (Boise State) dec. R.D. Pursell (ASU), 3-2
HWT: James Huml (Oklahoma State) dec. #10 Kellan Fluckiger (ASU), 5-3

Session III - Consolation Second Rounds - Friday, March 16
165: #3 Steve Blackford (ASU) dec. Nick Nemeth (Kent State), 11-6

Session IV - Consolation Third Round - Winner Earns All-America Honors - Friday, March 16
133: #11 David Douglas (ASU) dec. Dylan Long (Northern Iowa), 5-2
141: #3 Eric Larkin (ASU) dec. Mike Castillo (Michigan State), 10-6
165: #3 Steve Blackford (ASU) dec. #7 Chris Martin (Virginia Tech), 5-2

Session IV - Consolation Quarterfinals - Friday, March 16
133: Witt Durden (Oklahoma) dec. #11 David Douglas (ASU), 6-4 (ot)
141: #3 Eric Larkin (ASU) major dec. #7 Chad Erikson (Minnesota), 11-2
165: #3 Steve Blackford (ASU) major dec. Ben Shirk (Iowa), 11-3

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