No. 11 ASU Wrestling Falls in Close Opener, 20-19, at No. 8 Nebraska

Nov. 22, 2002

TEMPE, Ariz. - The No. 11 Arizona State wrestling team opened its 2002-03 season on the road Friday, falling in a closely contested battle with No. 8 Nebraska, 20-19, in Lincoln, Neb. The Sun Devils opened the dual with a 7-0 lead before the Cornhuskers surged ahead to a 20-10 lead with two matches remaining. ASU won the final two bouts of the evening, but it was not enough as the Sun Devils slipped to 0-1 on the year while NU, also in its season debut, improved to 1-0.

'Patrick Williams came up big for us tonight at 157, but we just were not able to pull it out in the end,' Thom Ortiz, ASU head coach, said. 'We ended on a good note and really put our best foot forward tonight against a very good Nebraska team. We still need a lot of work, but this was a great barometer of where our team is at right now and tomorrow in the Omaha (Omaha Open), we will get a better look at some of our guys.'

The dual opened at 157 with Patrick Williams (So., Homestead, Fla.), a junior college transfer from Neosho (Kan.), stepping in for Rocky Smart (Sr., Pleasant Grove, Utah). Williams recorded four takedowns enroute to a 14-4 major decision over James Pummel to give the visitors a 4-0 lead.

'Patrick really stepped up when we asked him to jump in,' Ortiz said. 'We had Mike Smith (Fr., Gilbert, Ariz.) ready to backup Rocky, but he has not been in action for a while. Williams wrestled last year and we felt he was more competition ready. He definitely turned in the top performance of the night and I would say he is the wrestler of the dual for our team.'

Nick Frost (Jr., Tucson, Ariz.) came in next and scored an 8-5 decision over Jacob Klein to build the ASU lead to 7-0. The Huskers won the next three matches to take the lead for good. No. 4 Travis Pascoe defeated No. 12 Curtis Owen (Sr., Coeur D'Alene, Idaho), 13-6, to start the trio of wins. It was Owens first action in nearly a year as well as the first since the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility. B.J. Padden followed next at 184 with a 14-6 major decision over Mazi Burke (Fr., Hawthorne, Calif.) with No. 2 Justin Ruiz bringing the lead to 11-7 after his 21-6 (6:35) technical fall over Ryan Bader (Fr., Verdi, Nev.).

No. 7 Kellan Fluckiger (Sr., Preston, Idaho) halted the Husker momentum with a 6-4 decision over Nathan McClain to pull the Sun Devils to within one point (11-10), but NU regained control of the dual with two more wins in a row. No. 4 Jason Powell welcomed Adam Chavira (Sr., Parker, Ariz.) back to action with a pin at 2:05 before Mike Simpson (So., Anaheim, Calif.) suffered a 4-3 defeat to Joey Malia at 133.

No. 15 Dana Holland (Sr, Glendale Heights, Ill.) looked to get ASU back on track and did so with his 3-2 decision over Matt Murray at 141. Holland scored the deciding point 44 seconds into the final period with a one-point escape. Three-time All-American Eric Larkin (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.), with the dual already decided, came to the mat and ended the dual with a pin of No. 15 Travis Shufelt at 1:09.

The Sun Devils return to action Saturday as the team battles through the Kaufman Brand Open on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha in Omaha, Neb.

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