No. 11 Wrestling Hosts No. 22 Nebraska Friday, Oregon Sunday

Jan. 29, 2002

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This Week --
After two straight weekends on the road, and three away from the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena, Arizona State's 11th-ranked wrestling squad returns home to host No. 22 Nebraska, Friday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. and Pac-10 rival Oregon, Sunday, Feb. 3, at 1 p.m. MST (originally scheduled for 2 p.m.). ASU is riding a two-match win streak after taking care of Cal Poly (28-15) and Cal State Bakersfield (40-6) in California last Saturday, and brings a 7-2 overall record and 5-0 mark versus conference opponents to the mat this weekend. Seven Sun Devils are ranked nationally in their respective weight classes, and five have recorded at least 20 wins this season.

Probable Arizona State Lineup --
125: #11/#10 Mike Simpson, Freshman, Anaheim, Calif. (22-5)
133: #6/#6 David Douglas, Senior, Harvey, Ill. (21-3)
141: #1/#1 Eric Larkin, Junior, Tucson, Ariz. (21-2)
149: Quinn Foster, Senior, Fairfax, Va. (4-5)
157: #11/#12 Rocky Smart, Pleasant Grove, Utah (13-2)
165: #18/nr Nick Frost, Sophomore, Tucson, Ariz. (14-7)
174: Chris Petrie, Freshman, Glendale, Ariz. (2-4)
184: Will Carr, Freshman, Columbia Heights, Minn. (4-15)
197: #10/#10 Erik Gladish, Senior, Kentfield, Calif. (20-10)
HWT: #10/#9 Kellan Fluckiger, Junior, Preston, Idaho (20-6)
Rankings according to AWM/InterMat (1/29/02), nr - not ranked

Last Time Out --
The Sun Devils swept Pac-10 opponents Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield on the road Saturday, improving their perfect conference record to 5-0, 7-2 overall. In the first dual of the doubleheader, ASU won its first five matches to take a 22-0 lead on its way to a 28-15 victory at Cal Poly. Senior Quinn Foster put up six points with a pin at 149 pounds, while freshman Mike Simpson contributed a major decision at 125. ASU then made the inland commute to Bakersfield for an evening match with the Roadrunners, where the Sun Devils matched a season-high 40 points to dominate 40-6, tying the second-most points scored by a CSB opponent. The only points scored by CSB came with an ASU forfeit at 149, while the Sun Devils won five of their nine matches by bonus points, not including a CSB forfeit at heavyweight. Sophomore Nick Frost and freshman Will Carr each recorded pins.

Scouting Nebraska (8-5) --
The Sun Devils look to break a five-match losing streak against the Cornhuskers dating back to 1994, although Nebraska's margin of victory in the last two meetings with ASU has been slim, winning by a total of four points. The Cornhuskers edged ASU 23-20 at the 2000 National Duals after eeking out a 19-18 win at the 1999 National Duals. NU leads the all-time series 6-4-1. Currently ranked 22nd in the nation according to the NWCA Top-25 poll, Nebraska is 8-5 overall. Four huskers are ranked nationally in their respective weight classes including No. 1 Bryan Snyder (23-0, 157), a three-time All-American, No. 6 Justin Ruiz (17-5, 197), No. 10 Jason Powell (19-3, 125) and No. 14 Travis Pascoe (16-5, 184). Nebraska is led by second-year head coach Mark Manning, while former ASU three-time All-American Shawn Charles (1990-93) is in his first season as an assistant for Manning. NU hasn't wrestled since Jan. 20, when it split a pair of duals vs. Bloomsburg (49-6) and West Virginia (21-30).

Scouting Oregon (5-4) --
Oregon comes to Tempe with the hopes of spoiling ASU's perfect Pac-10 record this season. The Sun Devils have dominated the all-time series 16-2, winning the last 16 meetings. Last year, ASU defeated the Ducks 22-19 at McArthur Court. Oregon, led by fourth-year head coach Chuck Kearney, brings a 5-4 overall record and a 2-1 Pac-10 record to the mat on Sunday. The Ducks will travel to face Boise State Friday night before heading south to Tempe. Oregon has four wrestlers ranked in their respective weight classes, including No. 13 Shaun Williams (8-2, 125), No. 18 Tony Overstake (10-2, 157), No. 6 Eugene Harris (20-2, 165) and No. 16 Eric Webb (13-6, HWT). Oregon has not been ranked in the Top-25 NWCA poll this season, but is third among Pac-10 teams. The Ducks are coming off a doubleheader sweep of Pacific (32-15) and Central Washington (39-9), Jan. 25.

Sun Devils in the National Polls --
ASU has moved up to 11th in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll released Jan. 23, and is 10th according to the Jan. 29 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 (11th-AWM, 10th-IM), junior Rocky Smart at 157 (12th-IM, 11th-AWM), sophomore Nick Frost at 165 (18th-IM), senior Erik Gladish at 197 (10th-AWM, 10th-IM), and junior Kellan Fluckiger at heavyweight (10th-AWM, ninth-IM).

Pac-10 Rankings --
ASU has been ranked No. 1 in all four Pac-10 Wrestling Polls this season, the latest released Jan. 23. 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 Stanford, No. 8 Cal State Bakersfield, 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. 2, 125), David Douglas (No. 1, 133), Eric Larkin (No. 1, 141), Quinn Foster (No. 4, 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.

Freshman Sensation --
Redshirt-freshman Mike Simpson may be in his first season competing in an ASU uniform, but his 2001-02 numbers indicate veteran leadership. With two wins last weekend, Simpson moved into the team lead with 22 victories under his belt, including 19 in his last 21 matches. Simpson is also the team leader with five major decision victories and is tied for the team lead with sophomore Nick Frost for technical fall wins (three).

ASU In Midst Of Big February Homestand --
This weekend marks the beginning of a big four-match homestand at Wells Fargo Arena, the final four duals at home for the Sun Devils. Following meetings with Nebraska and Oregon, ASU's biggest home dual of the season will be versus the No. 5 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. That match will also feature an Alumni Reunion. ASU will close out its 2002 home schedule with No. 25 Fresno State, Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m., with Sun Devil seniors David Douglas, Quinn Foster and Erik Gladish honored in pre-match festivities.

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 22-5 overall record, is the team leader in wins. The only Sun Devil to compete in this weight class this season, Simpson also leads the team with five major decision victories and is tied for the team lead with 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 19 of his last 21 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 during that span.

133: One of the top wrestlers in the nation, senior David Douglas (Harvey, Ill.) is ASU's starter at 133 pounds and has notched his third straight 20-win season with an overall record of 21-3. Redshirt freshman Evan Larkin (Tucson, Ariz.) has also seen considerable mat time with a mark of 8-9 at 133, 10-9 overall. 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 11-3, for an overall record of 21-3 including four pins, two technical falls 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. 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 10-9 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. A knee injury has kept him out of ASU's last four duals and the NWCA All-Star Classic, but he is expected to return for the Nebraska match Friday. Eric's younger brother Evan filled in for the elder Larkin at 141 vs. Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield, and came away with two wins. 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.), who is 4-5. Foster picked up his first pin of the season vs. Cal Poly. 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 13-2 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. Smart rattled off two wins vs. Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield when he was back in the lineup for the first time in over a month.

165: Sophomore Nick Frost (Tucson, Ariz.) is the only Sun Devil to compete at 165. Frost has an overall record of 14-7, including two pins, 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: ASU has been plagued by injuries at 174. The Sun Devils lost senior co-captain Curtis Owen (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) to a season-ending elbow injury for which he had surgery. Owen is petitioning for a medical redshirt. Sophomore Jason Conine (San Antonio, Texas) then stepped in as ASU's starter at 174, compiling an overall record of 2-9 before also falling to injury. True freshman Chris Petrie (Glendale, Ariz.) made his collegiate debut in the Embry-Riddle dual with a decision, and is now 2-4 after competing at the National Duals and matches vs. Cal Poly and CSB.

184: Like at 125 and 165, 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 4-15 overall record, 2-7 in dual action. He picked up his first pin vs. Cal State Bakersfield.

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 20-10 including one win via fall, one by technical fall and four 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 20-6 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 plays host to No. 5 Iowa State, Sunday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena. The match marks the return of former Sun Devil coach Bobby Douglas, now the head coach of the Cyclones, and it is the second meeting between Thom Ortiz and his mentor, Douglas. Added to the festivities will also be an Alumni Reunion.

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