Larkin and Fluckiger Earn All-America Honors as Wrestling Sits Sixth

March 21, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State wrestling team moved up two spots to sixth in the team standings on the strength of wins by No. 1 Eric Larkin (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.) and No. 4 Kellan Fluckiger (Sr., Preston, Idaho) at the 2003 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Kansas City, Mo., Friday morning. Larkin and Fluckiger earned their fourth and first All-America honors, respectively, while three others could earn the honor with another win.

The Friday rounds saw Dana Holland (Sr., Glendale Heights, Ill.) suffer his first loss in the 141 division as Shane Cunanan won his second overtime match in a row, dropping the Sun Devil senior, 5-3. Holland now must defeat No. 9 seed Josh Moore of Penn State to assure a placement in the Top 8 in the nation while the unseeded Cunanan, after knocking off the No. 2 seed, will look for a spot in the finals.

Larkin was next and even though he did not pin his third opponent in a row, he did score a 15-7 major decision over Michigan State's Karl Nadolsky to advance to the semifinals and inch closer toward a shot at the national title. Larkin joins former Sun Devil greats Shawn Charles (1990-93), Ray Miller (1990-93) and Markus Mollica (1993-96) as the only ASU grapplers to earn All-America honors four times in a career. He will now face No. 5 seed Jerrod Sanders of Oklahoma State who upset No. 4 seed and undefeated Jake Percival of Ohio, 3-2.

Rocky Smart (Sr., Pleasant Grove, Utah) will have a tough task if he wants to become an All-American this year. The sixth-year senior at 157 defeated two foes on the day, including Pac-10 champion Jeremiah Jarvis of UC Davis to move within one win of a Top 8 finish. Smart, who advanced after a 14-5 major decision over Oklahoma's Rafael Maturino, now must upset No. 1 seed Luke Becker of Minnesota.

Two ASU wrestlers were eliminated on the day and the first was Nick Frost (Jr., Tucson, Ariz.) at 165. Frost opened Friday's action with a 12-4 defeat of North Carolina's Jimmy O'Connor before No. 8 seed Noel Thompson of Hofstra handed the Sun Devil an 8-2 decision. Frost finished the year 31-13, nearly doubling his career win total of 34, and bringing home the Pac-10 championship. The second elimination came when Ryan Bader (Fr., Verdi, Nev.) dropped a 14-1 major decision to No. 11 seed Matt Greenberg of Cornell. Bader, also a Pac-10 champion this year, finished his first collegiate campaign with a 24-18 record.

Curtis Owen (Sr., Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) won twice on the day, scoring a 3-1 win over Andrew Roy of Rutgers and a 15-5 major decision over Tyler Baier of Cornell to advance. Owen, who lost one match shy of All-America honors last year, will face Ralph Everett of Hofstra. Everett opened the tournament with a major upset as he defeated No. 1 seed Greg Jones of West Virginia, 3-2, in double overtime. Jones was the defending champ.

The final ASU wrestler was Fluckiger who finally got the All-America honor he was looking for as he defeated conference rival and No. 5 seed Boe Rushton of Boise State with a fall at 1:21. Fluckiger now will face No. 1 and undefeated Steve Mocco of Iowa for a shot to reach the finals Saturday night.

The Friday evening session gets underway with the championship semifinals and two rounds of consolations. The winners of the first consolation matches will become All-Americans while the second matches determine if the wrestler will fight for seventh or remain alive for a shot at third place.

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