Sun Devil Wrestlers Head West For Final Duals of 2003

Feb. 12, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz.- Two duals remain on the No. 11 Arizona State wrestling schedule this year, both this weekend, as the Sun Devils prepare for the 2003 Pac-10 Championships (March 2-3). Sunday, the Sun Devils (11-6, 4-1 Pac-10) travel to Fresno State (10-4) for a noon dual and Cal State Fullerton (8-9, 3-4 Pac-10) for a 7:30 p.m. start in the final tune-up for the conference meet.

This weekend marks the final regular season duals for the Sun Devils, as well as their final chance to prepare for the Pac-10 and NCAA Championships, both set for March.

He is 23-0. His career record of 112-12 places him as the 11th winningest Sun Devil of all-time. One of nine Arizona State grapplers to earn All-American honors three times, Eric Larkin, the top-ranked 149 wrestler in the nation, is on his way to becoming just the fourth Sun Devil to win All-American honors four times.

In duals, Larkin is tied for 14th with Ryan Miller with 46 dual wins and his 31 falls makes him No. 6 on the list.

Dana Holland has combined with Eric Larkin to produce one of the better one-two punches in the lineup this year.

Since heading into the Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 6-7) with a 5-3 record on the year and ranked No. 18 in the nation, Holland has gone 25-2, 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.

While Eric Larkin has climbed into the all-time records book in four categories, one other Sun Devil is making a charge toward a solid spot on the ledger. Heavyweight Kellan Fluckiger has amassed a career record of 89-43 and is 24th on the all-time wins list. Fluckiger also needs 11 more wins in this, his senior season, to break the 100-win plateau, joining the 20 other Sun Devil greats to reach the milestone.

On Jan. 5 at the Sun Devil Duals, Arizona State defeated Lock Haven, 21-16, to secure the 400th win in the history of the program. The Sun Devils all-time record currently is 408-217-13 following their defeat of Cal State Bakersfield over the weekend.

This week, the NWCA Coaches poll (Feb. 5) has the Sun Devils ranked the highest at No. 10 with Intermat placing ASU at No. 11 and The Wrestling Mall at No. 12.

125: Adam Chavira or Jeremy Mendoza
133: #10 Mike Simpson
141: #5 Dana Holland or Evan Larkin
149: #1 Eric Larkin
157: #15 Rocky Smart, Mike Smith or Chris Smith
165: #6 Nick Frost
174: #9 Curtis Owen
184: Ron Renzi
197: Ryan Bader
285: #3 Kellan Fluckiger

Coached by Dennis DeLiddo (22nd year), the Bulldogs are 10-4 on the year. Fresno State has won its last eight duals in a row, including their most recent, a 19-12 decision over Oregon.

Arizona State leads the series, 17-4-0 ... Fresno State won the last meeting, 22-20, last year in Tempe ... ASU had won the previous five in a row ... the Sun Devils hold the advantage in Fresno, going 8-0-0 in their eight trips there ... ASU vs. FSU: at Tempe: 7-3-0 ... at Fresno: 8-0-0 ... neutral: 2-1-0.

The Titans, under the direction of first-year coach Dan Hicks, are 8-9 overall and 3-4 in Pac-10 duals. Last week, CSUF took third at the All-California meet with three individuals winning titles.

The Sun Devils are a perfect 11-0-0 in duals with the Titans ... ASU won the last meeting, a 40-6 decision in 2001 ... ASU vs. CSUF: at Tempe: 7-0-0 ... at Fullerton: 4-0-0 ... neutral: 0-0-0.

For the third time in a row, the Sun Devils defended their home mats by handing Cal State Bakersfield a 28-18 loss in Pac-10 action. The dual also served as Senior and Alumni Day inside Wells Fargo Arena.

The dual saw four of ASU six seniors win their final matches at home. Victorious was No. 5 Dana Holland, No. 1 Eric Larkin, No. 8 Curtis Owen and No. 4 Kellan Fluckiger. No. 13 Rocky Smart was unable to compete in his final home dual and the sixth senior, Adam Chavira, unfortunately fell in his dual.

No. 8 Nick Frost won the opening bout at 165 by technical fall with Ryan Bader and Fluckiger winning by tech falls as well. Larkin won his match by fall, his second win by fall in a row, while Owen added a win by major 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 20-11-0 (10-1 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.

Since the Sun Devils began competing in WFA in the 1974-75 season, ASU holds an all-time mark of 142-48-2 (.746). 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).

After a two week break from the competition mats, the Sun Devils will return to action when they compete at the 2003 Pac-10 Championships March 2-3 at Boise, Idaho. The Top 4 wrestlers from each weight class, as well as two at-large selections, will then move on to the NCAA Championships, March 20-22, in Kansas City, Mo.

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