No. 5 Sun Devils Travel to Ohio for National Duals

Jan. 14, 2003

Weekly Release (in pdf) | Season Stats (in pdf)

Season Recaps (in pdf) | Division I Duals Bracket (in pdf)

TEMPE, Ariz.- The No. 5 Arizona State wrestling team (5-3, 1-0 Pac-10), seeded No. 8 in the tournament, heads to Columbus, Ohio, for the 2003 NWCA National Duals, this Saturday and Sunday. Action runs all day each day at St. John Arena on the campus of Ohio State.

Eric Larkin began his career in the Valley of the Sun competing at 133 pounds and taking fourth in the national tournament. For the next two years, Larkin was third at 141 as a sophomore and a national runner-up last year, also at 141. For his efforts, Larkin was a three-time All-American with a 89-12 career record.

This year, Larkin again has moved up in weight (149) and is keeping another impeccable record. At 16-0 overall and 7-0 in duals, Larkin has ascended the national rankings and assumed the top spot. He is 105-12 for his career and tied for 13th on the all-time victories list in Tempe. To crack the Top 10, Larkin will need eight more wins.

With the season Eric Larkin is having, it would be easy to overlook the talents of other members of the team. Dana Holland, at 141, is making sure that does not happen.

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 17-2, 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. 5.

On Jan. 5 at the Sun Devil Duals, Arizona State defeated Lock Have, 21-16, to secure the 400th win in the history of the program. ASU also defeated Embry-Riddle (46-0) that day to move to 401-213-13 all-time. Since then, the Sun Devils lost to No. 3 Minnesota and upset No. 4 Oklahoma to bring the all-time record to 402-214-13.

On Dec. 18, released the first individual rankings based on the input of collegiate coaches rather than that of the poll administrators. In the second installment (Jan. 8), ASU has members ranked in the Top 15 at five weights. Eric Larkin (149) leads the way at No. 1, followed by No. 4 Kellan Fluckiger (heavyweight), No. 5 Dana Holland (141), No. 9 Curtis Owen (174) and No. 14 Mike Simpson (133). Also making the 'others' area (those receiving votes not in the Top 15) are Nick Frost (No. 17 at 165) and Rocky Smart (No. 18 at 157).

As a team, the Sun Devils moved to No. 5 in's weekly poll while coming in at 11th in the coaches poll (Jan. 8). Arizona State also checks in at No. 11 in the InterMat poll.

The tournament is three events in one with Divisions I, II and III each holding their respective tournaments at the same time as each fields 16 of the top teams in the nation. For Division I, 15 of the 16 competitors are ranked in the Top 25 of the Jan. 6 NWCA Coaches poll, including the Top 3 (Oklahoma State, Iowa and Minnesota). ASU is 25-23 all-time in the duals and has placed seven times including runner-up finishes in 1989 and 1990.

The Sun Devils are 2-2 in duals this year against teams participating in the National Duals. ASU defeated Northern Iowa and Oklahoma and lost to Iowa and Minnesota.

The Sun Devils posted a 1-2 record with a 21-21 win over No. 15 Lehigh sandwiched in between losses to No. 6 Iowa State (29-14) and No. 5 Iowa (39-3). Last year marked the fifth time in the 12 appearances the Sun Devils made in the duals in which they did not place in the event.

The Tigers are ranked as high as No. 11 in the nation this year and are led by head coach Brian Smith. The team holds a 9-3 record after three dual wins over the weekend in which they defeated Linwood, Missouri Valley and Missouri Baptist by a combined 150-0.

125 - Adam Chavira or Jeremy Mendoza
133 - #10 Mike Simpson
141 - #4 Dana Holland or Evan Larkin
149 - #1 Eric Larkin
157 - #12 Rocky Smart, Mike Smith or Patrick Williams
165 - #8 Nick Frost
174 - #5 Curtis Owen
184 - Ron Renzi
197 - Ryan Bader
285 - #4 Kellan Fluckiger

Arizona State welcomed No. 4 Oklahoma to Wells Fargo Arena Jan. 8 and sent the visitors home stunned with a loss on criteria, 21-21. After winning the first match of the night at 165 and taking a 3-0 lead, the Sooners won the next two bouts by fall to take a 12-3 lead. After unranked Ryan Bader upset No. 14 Tom Grossman (11-7), Kellan Fluckiger added a decision win and ASU cut the deficit to 12-9, OU got another pin and a decision to go ahead 21-9.

Down 12, the Sun Devils got a decision win from Dana Holland at 141 before the bizarreness began. At 149, Eric Larkin faced Nate Parker and won on disqualification when Parker was thrown out for headbutting.

With the match on the line, Rocky Smart competed for only the second time this year and won on decision, knotting the dual at 21. The first criteria for breaking a tie, more victories in the dual, saw ASU ahead 6-4, giving the Sun Devils the upset win.

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 14-8-0 (7-0 Pac-10).

Ortiz returns to the National Duals this week, the same tournament that saw named the Outstanding Wrestler back in 1990.

Six days after the start of the NWCA National Duals (Jan. 24), the Sun Devils return to Wells Fargo Arena for a Pac-10 dual with Cal Poly at 7 p.m. One week later, ASU heads to the state of Oregon for a pair of conference duals. Jan. 31, the Sun Devils will be in Corvallis for a 7:30 p.m. dual with Oregon State before meeting Oregon in Eugene at 2 p.m. Feb. 2.

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