No. 7 ASU Plays Host to Sun Devil Duals Sunday

Dec. 31, 2002

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TEMPE, Ariz.- The No. 7 Arizona State wrestling team (2-2, 1-0 Pac-10) jumps back into the dual season with the start of the new year as it plays host to the Sun Devils Duals. The defending two-time national champion Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-1), Lock Haven (6-2) and Embry-Riddle will be on hand to compete at Noon, 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.

Sunday, Lock Haven, Embry-Riddle and No. 3 Minnesota will be on hand for the Sun Devil Duals. The event is marked as AIA/High School Night, granting free admission for high school teams to the Minnesota-ASU match (with a roster being submitted ahead of time). Free T-shirts will be given to the first 100 children in attendance as well as free Sparky rub-on tattoos.

Three days later, the Sun Devils take on No. 4 Oklahoma on Alumni Night. All former ASU grapplers are invited back and will be honored during the evening. Also, the first 100 fans will receive a free T-shirt.

Aside from the perfect record Eric Larkin holds at 149 (13-0), no one on the team has been on a bigger winning streak than Dana Holland at 141. Heading into the Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 6-7), Holland was 5-3 on the year. He also was ranked No. 18 in the nation. Since his trip to the City of Lights, Holland has gone 14-1, won the tournament titles at the Las Vegas Invite and the Reno Tournament of Champions and finished second at the highly competitive Midlands. He also has surged toward the top of the rankings, coming in this week at No. 4.

Eric Larkin has shined this year at 149. Opening the year as a three-time All-American at 133 (once) and 141 (twice), as well as the national runner-up a year ago, Larkin is off to a 13-0 start and has assumed the No. 1 national ranking. In his recent streak, he has defeated then-No. 1 Jared Lawrence of Minnesota and then-No. 2 Jesse Jantzen of Harvard, both on his way to winning the Las Vegas Invitational.

The Sun Devils will have three chances Sunday to reach a milestone, starting with Lock Haven, as they search for the 400th win in team history. Arizona State stands 399-213-13 all-time. The 35-12 defeat of Pima Dec. 29 does not count toward the team's record because Pima is a two-year school and the NCAA does not accept team or individual results against such teams.

1 - vs. Los Angeles St.; 40-0 (1/11/63)
25 - Arizona; 27-3 (3/5/65)
50 - Arizona; 33-4 (2/29/68)
75 - vs. San Jose St.; 28-9 (11/27/74)
100 - vs. Washington; 30-8 (1/7/77)
125 - Western State; 36-8 (1/8/79)
150 - at Portland State; 30-9 (2/12/81)
175 - CS Fullerton; 34-12 (11/18/83)
200 - vs. Michigan; 28-15 (1/5/84)
225 - vs. West Virginia; 34-9 (1/10/87)
250 - at Fresno State; 26-10 (11/25/88)
275 - vs. Purdue; 24-15 (1/26/90)
300 - CS Fullerton; 25-12 (11/27/92)
325 - vs. Pittsburgh; 18-12 (1/20/96)
350 - vs. Augsburg; 26-13 (1/18/98)
375 - Fresno State; 24-11 (1/29/00)

On Dec. 18, released the first individual rankings based on the input of collegiate coaches rather than that of the poll administrators. Starting in January, the poll will be release biweekly, giving the nation one of the more concise rankings around.

In its first installment, ASU had members ranked in the Top 15 at four weights. Eric Larkin (149) leads the way at No. 1, followed by No. 4 Dana Holland (141), No. 5 Kellan Fluckiger (heavyweight) and No. 12 Curtis Owen (174). Also making the 'others' area (those receiving votes not in the Top 15) were Nick Frost (No. 16 at 165) and Mike Simpson (No. 19 at 133).

As a team, the Sun Devils remained at No. 10 in The Wrestling Mall's polls while InterMat bumped ASU up from No. 18 to No. 15. The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA), releasing a poll once a month, placed the Sun Devils at No. 7.

Individually, Eric Larkin moved up from No. 3 to No. 1 in all polls while Dana Holland made the largest leap, going from No. 18 to No. 4. Curtis Owen improved from No. 12 to No. 9 and Kellan Fluckiger rose one to No. 5. Nick Frost stayed at No. 16.

A newcomer to the polls, Mike Simpson was placed in the Top 20 by two rankings, taking his highest spot at No. 18.

This will be the sixth time in ASU history that the team has played host to 'day of duals' and fifth time it will feature four teams. In the five previous events in Tempe, the Sun Devils have posted a 12-2 record with wins over Embry-Riddle (2001) and Minnesota (1978). ASU's lone losses have come to Oregon State (30-8 in 1978) and Lehigh (26-9 in 2000).

First year head coach Rocky Bonomo has the Bald Eagles off to a 6-2 start this year, with one of their wins coming in a 15-15 decision over No. 7 Iowa State (won on criteria). LHU is led on the mats by Mike Maney at 141. Maney is 13-1 on the year.

Sunday will mark the fourth meeting in the series...ASU is 3-0-0 all-time against LHU...all three matches have been contested at neutral sites...the Sun Devils won the last meeting, 24-18, during the 1997 season at the Virginia Duals...ASU vs LHU at Tempe: LHU: 0-0-0...neutral: 3-0-0.

The Eagles of Embry-Riddle compete in the NAIA. This year, the Eagles finished 22nd at the Reno Tournament of Champions and were led by the sixth place performance of Pat Cadwallader.

This is the fourth installment of the series...the Sun Devils hold a 3-0-0 advantage...ASU has won three straight...the last meeting was a 31-7 win for ASU at Peoria High School last year...ASU vs. ERAU at Tempe: ERAU: 0-0-0...neutral sites: 1-0-0.

Led by 2002 Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year J Robinson, the No. 3 Golden Gophers are back to fight for their third national title in a row. UM stands 2-1 on the season with its only loss coming at the hands of conference rival Iowa. On the mats, No. 3 Jared Lawrence leads the way, with his only loss of the season coming at the hands of Eric Larkin of ASU.

This will be the 13th meeting between the two also will be the first since 1986...ASU is 9-3-0 all-time...the Sun Devils won the last meeting, 34-9, in 1987 at the Virginia Duals...ASU vs. UM at Tempe: UM: 2-1-0...neutral: 1-1-0.

Arizona State vs. Lock Haven: When the Bald Eagle and Sun Devils meet at Noon Sunday, one match to watch will be the 141 contest which features ASU's fourth-ranked Dana Holland (19-4) and LHU's third-ranked Mike Maney (13-1).

Arizona State vs. Minnesota: No. 1 Eric Larkin and No. 2 Jared Lawrence will compete in their second match of the year. This 149 contest will be Larkin's chance to prove he is the best in the class while Lawrence will look to upset the top-ranked wrestler, just as Larkin did nearly a month ago.

125 - Adam Chavira or Jeremy Mendoza
133 - #19 Mike Simpson or Chris Knox
141 - #4 Dana Holland or Evan Larkin
149 - #1 Eric Larkin or Chris Smith or Patrick Williams
157 - Rocky Smart or Mike Smith
165 - #16 Nick Frost
174 - #9 Curtis Owen
184 - Ron Renzi
197 - Ryan Bader
285 - #5 Kellan Fluckiger or Justin Klein

Five members of the team - Jeremy Mendoza (125), Mike Simpson (133), Dana Holland (141), Patrick Williams (149) and Kellan Fluckiger (HWT) - traveled to Evanston, Ill., for the 40th Midlands Tournament over the weekend with Holland, Fluckiger and Simpson placing in the Top 6. Holland took second while Fluckiger finished fourth and Simpson sixth.

As a team, the five ASU representatives compiled 49 points to finish 13th while beating several schools with a full roster in the competition.

The remaining Sun Devils, though it did not count toward their team and individual records, traveled to Tucson's Sunnyside High School, the alma mater of coach Thom Ortiz and the Larkin brothers, Eric and Evan. ASU defeated Pima, 35-12, on the strength of three falls, two technical falls, a major decision and a decision.

Former Sun Devil standout Thom Ortiz, a three-time All-American, national runner-up and three-time conference champion, returns for his second year at the helm of the Arizona State program. After compiling a 9-5 record a year ago, the team went on to place second at the Pac-10 Championships and 12th at the NCAA meet. The fifth head coach in the 41-year history of the program, Ortiz knows what it takes to make the Sun Devils a prominent team. He was a member of ASU squads that won three conference team titles, one NCAA championship and two national runner-up finishes. His career coaching record is 11-7-0 (7-0 Pac-10).

Wells Fargo Arena is the home of Sun Devil wrestling, as well as men's and women's basketball, women's volleyball and women's gymnastics. The arena was completed in 1974 with the ability to seat a capacity of crowd of more than 14,000 and has seen its far share of top competition. The annual Sunkist Kids/ASU International Open has been staged inside WFA and the Sun Devil wrestlers also called the facility home on their way to the 1988 NCAA title. In all, some of the elite teams in the nation have visited the arena. That list includes Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Minnesota, Iowa and Iowa State, to name a few.

Since the Sun Devils began competing in WFA in the 1974-75 season, ASU holds an all-time mark of 137-47-2 (.742). The Sun Devils also compiled five seasons with a perfect mark at home: 1975-76 (8-0), 1984-85 (8-0), 1987-88 (4-0), 1988-89 (6-0) and 1992-93 (5-0).

The Sun Devils welcome No. 4 Oklahoma to Wells Fargo Arena at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 8) for another battle of Top 10 teams. ASU will then be off until Jan. 18-19 when it returns to Columbus, Ohio, and Ohio State University for the 2003 NWCA Cliff Keen National Duals.

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