No. 12 Wrestling Heads to California For Duals at Cal Poly, CS Bakersfield Saturday

Jan. 23, 2002

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This Week --
Looking to regroup after a 1-2 showing at the National Duals last weekend, Arizona State's 12th-ranked wrestling squad returns to Pac-10 conference action, traveling to California for duals with Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield, Saturday, Jan. 26. The Sun Devils will meet Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo at 1:30 p.m. PST, before heading inland for a match at Cal State Bakersfield at 7:30 p.m. PST. ASU looks to improve upon its 5-2 overall dual record and perfect 3-0 mark vs. conference opponents.

Probable Arizona State Lineup --
125: #9/#11 Mike Simpson, Freshman, Anaheim, Calif. (20-5)
133: #6/#6 David Douglas, Senior, Harvey, Ill. (19-3)
141: #1/#1 Eric Larkin, Junior, Tucson, Ariz. (21-2)
149: Quinn Foster, Senior, Fairfax, Va. (3-5)
157: #10/#12 Rocky Smart, Pleasant Grove, Utah (11-2) or
Danny Alcocer, Freshman, Aurora, Ill. (6-9)
165: #17/#18 Nick Frost, Sophomore, Tucson, Ariz. (13-6)
174: Jason Conine, Sophomore, San Antonio, Texas (2-9) or
Chris Petrie, Freshman, Glendale, Ariz. (1-3)
184: Will Carr, Freshman, Columbia Heights, Minn. (3-14)
197: #12/#10 Erik Gladish, Senior, Kentfield, Calif. (18-10)
HWT: #12/#10 Kellan Fluckiger, Junior, Preston, Idaho (18-6)
Rankings according to AWM/InterMat (1/22/02)

Last Time Out --
ASU was eliminated from the 2002 Cliff Keen/NWCA National Duals hosted by Ohio State after a posting a 1-2 record in the first day of competition Saturday, Jan. 19. The Sun Devils suffered their first loss of the season, falling 29-14 to sixth-ranked Iowa State in the preliminary round. ASU then bounced back with an exciting win via tiebreaker over No. 15 Lehigh (21-21) in the consolation first round. In the final match at heavyweight, junior Kellan Fluckiger tied the team score at 21 with a pin of Lehigh's Joe Sahl and the Sun Devils were awarded the victory by criteria C (greater number of technical falls). It was sophomore Nick Frost's technical fall at 165 pounds that proved to be the deciding factor. ASU was then eliminated in the consolation second round by fifth-seed Iowa, 39-3. Frost was the lone Sun Devil to win a match vs. the Hawkeyes.

Scouting Cal Poly (8-5)--
ASU leads the all-time series with the Mustangs 24-8, having won the last 12 straight matches dating back to the 1986-87 season. Last year, ASU defeated CP 27-14 at Wells Fargo Arena, Jan. 5. The Mustangs are coming off back-to-back dual wins against Bay Area schools Stanford and Menlo College, at home Sunday, Jan. 20. Cal Poly overcame a 15-3 deficit to defeat Stanford 25-18, improving its Pac-10 record to 3-1, before taking care of Menlo College 31-15. This season, Cal Poly has also picked up Pac-10 wins against Cal State Fullerton (34-9) and Portland State (34-4), while falling to Boise State (20-15). The Mustangs are led by 141-pounder Cedric Haymon (23-5) and 174-pounder Steve Strange (24-5), ranked fifth and 14th, respectively, by Amateur Wrestling News. Cal Poly is coached by Lennis Cowell, in his 17th season at the helm.

Scouting Cal State Bakersfield (2-3)--
The Sun Devils lead the all-time series with Cal State Bakersfield, 15-6-1, and have won four of the last six meetings. Last year, ASU handled the Roadrunners 34-9, at Wells Fargo Arena, Feb. 4. Like Cal Poly, the Roadrunners' most recent foes have been Stanford and Menlo College, with CSB falling to Stanford 13-30, Jan. 18, but bouncing back to defeat Menlo College 25-12, Jan. 19. The Roadrunners' only other dual win this season came vs. San Francisco State (25-12), Jan. 6. Cal State Bakersfield is coached by TJ Kerr, in his 18th season.

Larkin Unable To Compete At NWCA All-Star Classic --
Junior Eric Larkin was selected to compete in the 2002 NWCA All-Star Classic to be held Monday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Hofstra Arena in Hempstead, Long Island, New York, but has pulled out due to injury. Navy's Mark Conley will replace Larkin in the 141-pound match against Virginia Tech's Sean Gray. Twenty-five Sun Devils have participated in the event dating back to 1967. Recent Sun Devil participants include Steve Blackford (2000) and current ASU assistant coach Aaron Simpson (1997). Head coach Thom Ortiz also competed in the 1990 All-Star Classic.

Sun Devils in the National Polls --
ASU has dropped to 12th in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll released Jan. 16, and is 10th according to the Jan. 15 InterMat poll. 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 by both at 133 pounds. Additional rankings include redshirt freshman Mike Simpson at 125 (ninth-AWM, 11th-IM), junior Rocky Smart at 157 (12th-IM, 10th-AWM), sophomore Nick Frost at 165 (17th-AWM, 18th-IM), senior Erik Gladish at 197 (12th-AWM, 10th-IM), and junior Kellan Fluckiger at heavyweight (12th-AWM, 10th-IM).

Pac-10 Rankings --
ASU is still ranked No. 1 in all three Pac-10 Wrestling Polls this season, the latest released Jan. 7. 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), Quinn Foster (No. 3, 149), 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 12 of his 21 matches by fall this season after beginning 2001-02 with 10 career pins compiled during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Larkin is five 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.

ASU Awaits Big Homestand in Early February --
Arizona State wrestling fans should mark their calendars for the Sun Devils' final four dual matches of the 2002 season at Wells Fargo Arena with two top-25 opponents and Pac-10 rival Oregon. Starting Friday, Feb. 1, ASU will welcome No. 20 Nebraska for a 7 p.m. match, followed by Oregon, Sunday, Feb. 3, at 2 p.m. ASU's biggest home dual of the season will be versus the No. 6 Iowa State Cyclones, Sunday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. Thom Ortiz, formerly an assistant coach for Iowa State, will be up against his old team, while Iowa State's head coach is Bobby Douglas, head coach of the Sun Devils from 1975-92. ASU will close out their 2002 home schedule with Fresno State, Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m.

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.

Weight-by-Weight Breakdown --
125: Redshirt freshman Mike Simpson (Anaheim, Calif.) has solidified the starting position at 125 pounds and with a 20-5 overall record, is second only to Eric Larkin for the team lead in wins. The only Sun Devil to compete in this weight class this season, Simpson is tied for the team lead with four major decision victories (Douglas) and three technical fall wins (Frost). Simpson finished third at both the Las Vegas Invitational and the Midlands Championships. After a 3-3 start, he has won 17 of his last 19 matches, losing only to No. 2 LeRoy Vega from Minnesota 3-2 at Midlands and No. 11 Luke Eustice from Iowa at the National Duals.

133: Senior David Douglas (Harvey, Ill.) is ASU's starter at 133 pounds and has compiled an impressive overall record of 19-3. Redshirt freshman Evan Larkin (Tucson, Ariz.) has also seen considerable mat time with a mark of 8-9. 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 9-3, for an overall record of 19-3 including four pins, one technical fall and four major decision wins (tied for team lead with Simpson). 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. Douglas' only loss at the National Duals was a tough 7-4 decision to fifth-ranked Cliff Moore (Iowa). Prior to Douglas's move down to 133, Evan Larkin was the Sun Devils' starter through the Las Vegas Invite and since then has been a valuable back-up for Douglas. Larkin has an overall record of 8-9 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 12-1 with seven pins and titles at Reno and Midlands. His only losses have come to Harvard's Jesse Jantzen (8-4) at the Las Vegas Invite where he finished sixth and to Iowa State's Aaron Holker at National Duals. Overall, 12 of Larkin's 21 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 only lost one 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 belonged to senior Quinn Foster (Fairfax, Va.). Foster is 3-5, seeing action only at Midlands, ASU's duals with Boise State and Embry-Riddle and National Duals. Redshirt freshman Danny Alcocer (Aurora, Ill.) has also competed at 149, compiling a 5-5 record. Redshirt freshman Joey Ortiz (Phoenix, Ariz.) compiled a 3-2 record in the frosh division of the Missouri Open.

157: Junior Rocky Smart (Pleasant Grove, Utah) has been ASU's starter 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. Alcocer is 1-4 at 157, having filled in for an injured Smart in duals with Boise State and Embry-Riddle, as well as the National Duals.

165: Sophomore Nick Frost (Tucson, Ariz.) is the only Sun Devil to compete at 165. Frost has an overall record of 13-6, including one pin, three technical falls (tied for team lead with Simpson) and three major decisions. Frost placed fourth at the Missouri Open and sixth at the Las Vegas Invite. His 20-3 technical fall victory over Ted Dufresne in ASU's match with Lehigh at the National Duals gave the Sun Devils the team victory when criteria C was used as the deciding factor for breaking the 21-21 tied final score. Frost also picked up ASU's only win in its match with Iowa at National Duals.

174: Sophomore Jason Conine (San Antonio, Texas) has been ASU's starter at 174. He has an overall record of 2-9. True freshman Chris Petrie (Glendale, Ariz.) made his collegiate debut in the Embry-Riddle dual with a decision, but is now 1-3 after suffering three losses at the National Duals. The Sun Devils are missing the services of senior co-captain Curtis Owen (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) who is out for the season with an elbow injury. Owen is petitioning for a medical redshirt.

184: Like at 125, 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 3-14 overall record, 1-6 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 18-10 including one win via fall, one by technical fall and three by major decision. Gladish met some fierce competition at the National Duals, in No. 1 Cael Sanderson (Iowa State) and No. 2 Jon Trenge (Lehigh). Gladish was pinned by Sanderson in 4:11 and was edged by Trenge in double overtime, 6-4. Sophomore Andy Swanson (Louisville, Colo.) 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 18-6 including two pins. He won the heavyweight title at the Reno Tournament, and placed fifth at the Missouri Open. He had won eight of 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. Since that loss, Fluckiger won four straight until falling to another top-ranked wrestler, Steve Mocco from Iowa State (pin in 0:55) at the National Duals. Junior Hector Torres (Rosemead, Calif.) has also wrestled at heavyweight, compiling an 0-2 record at the Missouri Open.

Reno Tournament/Midlands Recaps--
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.

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 tocompete 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 returns home for four straight duals at Wells Fargo Arena starting with No. 20 Nebraska, Friday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. and Oregon, Sunday, Feb. 3, at 2 p.m. MST.

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