No. 8 Wrestling Hosts Pac-10 Rival Boise State Saturday

Jan. 3, 2002

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This Week --
After competing in three straight tournaments, the No. 8 Arizona State wrestling team (2-0 overall, 2-0 Pac-10) returns to dual action, hosting Pac-10 rival Boise State (0-2, 0-0 Pac-10), Saturday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena. ASU is coming off a ninth-place finish at the Midlands Championships, Dec. 29th through the 30th, while Boise State hasn't seen action on the mat since placing eighth at the Reno Tournament of Champions, Dec. 20.

Probable Arizona State Lineup --
125: #8/#14 Mike Simpson, Freshman, Anaheim, Calif. (17-4)
133: #6/#6 David Douglas, Senior, Harvey, Ill. (16-2)
141: #1/#1 Eric Larkin, Junior, Tucson, Ariz. (19-1)
149: Danny Alcocer, Freshman, Aurora, Ill. (5-5) or
Joey Ortiz, Freshman, Phoenix, Ariz. (3-2)
157: #8/#7 Rocky Smart, Junior, Pleasant Grove, Utah (11-2)
165: #17/#18 Nick Frost, Sophomore, Tucson, Ariz. (9-5)
174: Jason Conine, Sophomore, San Antonio, Texas (2-8)
184: Will Carr, Freshman, Columbia Heights, Minn. (3-9)
197: #12/#12 Erik Gladish, Senior, Kentfield, Calif. (16-7)
HWT: #12/#11 Kellan Fluckiger, Junior, Preston, Idaho (14-5)
Rankings according to AWM/InterMat (1/2/02)

Probable Boise State Lineup --
125: #6/#6 Ben Vombaur, Junior, Vancouver, Wash. (10-2)
133: Jesse Brock, Sophomore, Wasilla, Alaska (9-4)
141: nr/#20 Gabe Vigil, Junior, Salt Lake City, Utah (10-6)
149: #20/#12 Colin Robertson, Junior, Riverton, Utah (6-3)
157: Tyler Robertson, Senior, Riverton, Utah (3-7)
165: Nathan Ploehn, Junior, West Valley City, Utah (0-0)
174: Pat Owens, Sophomore, Idaho Falls, Idaho (6-8)
184: Tony D'Amico, Sophomore, Palmer, Alaska (6-5)
197: Jacob McGinnis, Sophomore, Salmon, Idaho (1-4)
HWT: Boe Rushton, Junior, Bellevue, Idaho (7-5)
Rankings according to AWM/InterMat (1/2/02), nr - not ranked

Last Time Out --
Despite competing without wrestlers in three weight classes, ASU placed ninth at the 39th annual Midlands Championships hosted by Northwestern Dec. 29 through Dec. 30. Eric Larkin won the 141-pound title to lead the Sun Devils, while Mike Simpson placed third at 125 pounds. The only other ASU wrestler to place was Erik Gladish who took eighth at 197. David Douglas was the No. 2 seed at 133 pounds, but suffered his first loss of the season in the quarterfinals (5-2 to Iowa's Cliff Moore) and then his second in the consolation bracket (3-2 tiebreaker to Michigan State's Ryan L'Amoreaux). Prior to Midlands, ASU placed third at the Reno Tournament of Champions, Dec. 20, with Larkin (141), Douglas (133), and Kellan Fluckiger (HWT) winning titles, and Erik Gladish (197) earning runner-up honors.

Scouting Boise State --
Saturday marks Boise State's first Pac-10 dual and third overall. The Broncos enter the ASU match 0-2, having lost 33-6 at Northern Iowa, Nov. 21, and 42-0 at Minnesota, Nov. 25. Most recently, BSU placed eighth at the Reno Tournament of Champions Dec. 20, with junior Ben Vombaur winning the 125-pound title with a 3-1 upset of Oklahoma State's fourth-ranked Skyler Holman in the finals.

The Series --
ASU leads the all-time series with Boise State, 6-0. Although both Pac-10 competitors, these schools have not met in a dual match since the 1998-99 season. Their last meeting was a 27-12 win by ASU at the Reno Duals, Dec. 22, 1998.

Sun Devils in the National Polls --
ASU is ranked eighth in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll released Dec. 19. Seven Sun Devils are ranked individually, featured by junior Eric Larkin, ranked No. 1 at 141 pounds by both InterMat and Amateur Wrestling News, while senior David Douglas ranks sixth at 133 by both AWM and InterMat. Additional rankings include junior Rocky Smart at 157 (seventh-IM, eighth-AWM), sophomore Nick Frost at 165 (17th-AWM, 18th-IM), senior Erik Gladish at 197 (12th-AWM, 12th-IM), junior Kellan Fluckiger at heavyweight (12th-AWM, 11th-IM) and redshirt freshman Mike Simpson at 125 (14th-AWM, eighth-IM).

Pac-10 Rankings --
ASU is still ranked No. 1 in the second Pac-10 Wrestling Poll released Dec. 4. The defending champions sit atop No. 2 Oregon State (host of this year's Pac-10 tournament), No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Boise State, No. 5 Caly Poly, No. 6 UC Davis, No. 7 Cal State Bakersfield, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 Portland State and No. 10 Cal State Fullerton. ASU wrestlers are ranked among the top-four in eight weight classes, including five Sun Devils ranked No. 1: Mike Simpson (No. 3, 125), David Douglas (No. 1, 133), Eric Larkin (No. 1, 141), Rocky Smart (No. 1, 157), Nick Frost (No. 4, 165), Erik Gladish (No. 1, 197) and Kellan Fluckiger (No. 1, HWT).

King Pin --
The top-ranked wrestler in the nation at 141 pounds, junior Eric Larkin continues to display his dominance on the mat. Larkin has won 11 of his 19 matches by fall this season after beginning 2001-02 with 10 career pins compiled during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Larkin is six pins away from tying for fourth place on ASU's single-season list. The school record for pins in a season is 25 set by Dan Severn in 1980-81. Larkin had a stretch of 10 pins in 13 matches from the Nov. 25 dual with Oregon State through the second round of Midlands.

Owen Out for the Season --
Senior Curtis Owen, a two-time NCAA qualifier and co-captain, suffered a season-ending elbow injury and is petitioning for a medical redshirt. Surgery on the left elbow will require five to six months of rehabilitation. Owen has not competed this season.

Idaho Connections --
ASU has two wrestlers who hail from the state of Idaho. Heavyweight starter Kellan Fluckiger is from Preston, while senior Curtis Owen, who is out for the season with an elbow injury, is a native of Coeur D'Alene.

Weight-by-Weight Breakdown --
125: Redshirt freshman Mike Simpson (Anaheim, Calif.) has solidified the starting position at 125 pounds. The only Sun Devil to compete in this weight class this season, Simpson has racked up an impressive 17-4 overall record, including three wins by technical fall and two by major decision. Simpson finished third at both the Las Vegas Invitational and the Midlands Championships. After a 3-3 start, he has won 14 of his last 15 matches, losing only to No. 2 LeRoy Vega from Minnesota 3-2 at Midlands.

133: Senior David Douglas (Harvey, Ill.) is ASU's starter at 133 pounds, while redshirt freshman Evan Larkin (Tucson, Ariz.) has also seen considerable mat time. Douglas opened the season wrestling at 141 and compiled a perfect 10-0 record, before moving back down to 131 for the Reno Tournament of Champions. Since then he's 6-2, for an overall record of 16-2 including four pins, one technical fall and four major decision wins. Douglas won the 133-pound title at Reno, pulling a 3-2 upset over No. 1 Johnny Thompson (Oklahoma State) in the final bout. He also won the 141 title at the Missouri Open and rattled off 16 wins before suffering his first loss of the season at Midlands. Prior to Douglas's move down to 133, Evan Larkin was the Sun Devils starter through the Las Vegas Invite. Larkin has an overall record of 7-9 including one win by fall and two technical falls.

141: Junior Eric Larkin (Tucson, Ariz.) is the nation's top wrestler at 141 pounds. Larkin opened the season at 149, where he compiled an overall record of 9-1. Like Douglas, Larkin moved down to his permanent home at 141 at the Reno Tournament of Champions. Since then, Larkin is 10-0 with six pins and titles at Reno and Midlands. His only loss came to Harvard's Jesse Jantzen (8-4) at the Las Vegas Invite where he finished sixth. Overall, 11 of Larkin's 19 wins have come via fall, including a streak in which he pinned six of seven straight opponents. Larkin also won the Missouri Open 149-pound title. With Douglas' 10-0 record at 141 to start the season, ASU has not lost a match at this weight class this season.

149: Four Sun Devils have seen mat time at 149 pounds. Eric Larkin was 9-1 at this weight before moving to 141 at Reno and since then the starting role has been shared by redshirt freshmen Danny Alcocer (Aurora, Ill.) and Joey Ortiz (Phoenix, Ariz.) Alcocer is 5-5, while Ortiz is 3-2. Senior Quinn Foster is 1-2 at 149, seeing action only at Midlands.

157: Junior Rocky Smart (Pleasant Grove, Utah) owns the starting position at 157. He has tallied an outstanding 11-2 overall record including two major decision victories. Smart's only losses came to No. 11 Joe Carr (Wyoming) and No. 6 Ryan Bertin (Michigan). Smart won the 157 title at the Missouri Open, placed fourth at the Las Vegas Invite and sixth at the Reno Tournament. He won nine straight matches before suffering his first loss at Las Vegas.

165: Sophomore Nick Frost (Tucson, Ariz.) is the only Sun Devil to compete at 165. Frost has an overall record of 9-5, including one pin, two technical falls and two major decisions. Frost placed fourth at the Missouri Open and sixth at the Las Vegas Invite.

174: Sophomore Jason Conine (San Antonio, Texas) has been ASU's starter at 174. He has an overall record of 2-8. The Sun Devils are missing the services of senior co-captain Curtis Owen who is out for the season with an elbow injury. Owen is petitioning for a medical redshirt.

184: Like at 125, 157, 165 and 174, freshman Will Carr (Columbia Heights, Minn.) is the only Sun Devil to have competed at this weight class this season. In his first year at ASU, Carr has compiled a 3-9 overall record, 1-1 in dual action.

197: Senior Erik Gladish (Kentfield, Calif.) is ASU's leader at 197. Gladish has placed in all four of the Sun Devils' tournaments, including runner-up finishes at the Missouri Open and the Reno Tournament, along with a seventh place finish at Las Vegas and eighth-place finish at Midlands. Gladish has an overall record of 16-7 including one win via fall and two by major decision. Sophomore Andy Swanson has also wrestled at 197, compiling a 2-4 record at the Missouri Open and Reno Tournament.

HWT: Junior Kellan Fluckiger (Preston, Idaho) has been ASU's steady rock at heavyweight. He has an overall record of 14-5 including two pins. He won the heavyweight title at the Reno Tournament, and placed fifth at the Missouri Open. He has won eight of his last nine matches, including a string of six straight starting at Reno, before falling short to No. 1 John Lockhart (Illinois) by a close 5-3 margin at Midlands. Junior Hector Torres (Rosemead, Calif.) has also wrestled at heavyweight, compiling an 0-2 record at the Missouri Open.

Las Vegas Invitational Recap--
Redshirt freshman Mike Simpson earned a third-place finish at 125 pounds and junior Rocky Smart finished fourth at 157, leading the Sun Devils to fifth-place at the two-day Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational that concluded Saturday, Dec. 1. A total of six Sun Devils advanced to finals, including top-ranked junior Eric Larkin who suffered a surprise 8-4 semifinal loss to Harvard's Jesse Jantzen. Larkin, who pulled out of the sixth-place match, had pinned his first three opponents prior to the loss. Also picking up sixth-place finishes were senior David Douglas (141) and sophomore Nick Frost (165), while senior Erik Gladish placed seventh (197).

Missouri Open Recap --
ASU made its season debut Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Missouri Open, with three Sun Devils taking home individual title wins. Senior David Douglas won the 141-pound title, junior Eric Larkin captured the 149-pound title and junior Rocky Smart won the 157-pound crown. Senior Erik Gladish came just shy of becoming the fourth Sun Devil to post a tournament victory, falling 3-1 in overtime to Ohio State's Nick Preston in the final bout. Also placing for ASU were sophomore Nick Frost (fourth at 165 pounds) and junior Kellan Fluckiger (fifth at heavyweight).

Head Coach Thom Ortiz --
Becoming the fifth head coach in the 39-year history of ASU wrestling, Thom Ortiz returns to his alma mater where he was a three-time All-American, a three-time Pac-10 champion and a strong contributor to three of the most successful teams in ASU wrestling history. Ortiz helped ASU win four straight Pac-10 titles and its only NCAA crown in 1988, a season followed by two-straight national runner-up finishes in '89 and '90. Ortiz returns to ASU after serving nine years as the head assistant coach at Iowa State under his former Sun Devil coach Bobby Douglas. In 1992, he followed Douglas from Tempe to Ames, Iowa, for an assistant coaching position. With the Cyclones, Ortiz helped mentor three national champions and numerous All-Americans, while bringing in some of the top-ranked recruiting classes in the nation. Ortiz was also the runner-up for the 2000 National Wrestling Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year Award. Prior to his stint at Iowa State, Ortiz was an ASU graduate assistant in 1991, before taking over as the Sun Devils' interim head coach while Douglas was coaching the U.S. Olympic wrestling team in 1992.

ASU Ties --
Not only is head coach Thom Ortiz a former Sun Devil, both of his assistant coaches, Townsend Saunders and Aaron Simpson, are ASU alums. Saunders is in his first season as an assistant coach, hired by Ortiz in June 2001. Saunders wrestled for two seasons at ASU (1988-89, 1989-90), both years earning All-America honors and winning Pac-10 titles. Since his collegiate career, he went on to compete as a two-time Olympian, including a silver-medal winning performance in 1996. Saunders, recently named the executive director of the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club, was also a two-time gold medalist at the Pan-American Games and a 1994 gold medalist at the Goodwill Games. Simpson enters his fourth year as an assistant, after working the previous three years under Lee Roy Smith. Simpson graduated from ASU in 1998 where he was a two-time All-American and two-time Pac-10 champion. Simpson continues his wrestling career competing for the Phoenix-based Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club. He was the 1997 Pan-American Games silver-medalist at 187 pounds and in June 2000, he placed fifth at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Last summer he qualified for the World Team Trials with a fifth-place finish at the U.S. National Championships.

Up Next --
ASU will host a dual match with Embry-Riddle, Saturday, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. in Peoria, Ariz., before heading to the National Duals, Jan. 19-20.

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