Owen Earns All-America Honors While Larkin Gets Shot at National Title
March 21, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State wrestling team stands in fifth place after four sessions of action at the 2003 NCAA Championships after seeing three of its wrestlers, Eric Larkin (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.), Kellan Fluckiger (Sr., Preston, Idaho) and Curtis Owen (Sr., Coeur D'Alene, Idaho), earn All-America status. Oklahoma State leads the competition with 109 points while the Sun Devils sit four spots back with 54.5 points, four and one-half ahead of perennial power Iowa.
Larkin will compete Saturday evening in the national championship match after handing No. 5 seed Jerrod Sanders of Oklahoma State at 5-3 decision in the semifinals. Larkin will face No. 2 seed and defending champ Jared Lawrence of Minnesota as he tries to win his first national title.
Owen, who fell to the consolation bracket after one championships bracket win, won four matches in a row Friday to earn his first All-America honor. Owen defeated Ralph Everett of Hofstra, 6-5, and then No. 4 Ryan Lange of Purdue, 6-2, to advance to the consolation semifinals where he will get a rematch against No. 7 Brad Dillon of Lehigh. Dillon handed Owen his only loss of the tournament, 6-3, in the second round.
Fluckiger, also a national semifinalist, could not match the result of Larkin and fell 10-2 to No. 1 and undefeated Steve Mocco of Iowa. Fluckiger now will face No. 7 seed Pat Cummins of Penn State as the winner fights for third place and the loser goes for fifth. Fluckiger's possible opponents included defending national champion Tommy Rowlands of Ohio State or possibly another showdown with Boise State's Boe Rushton. Fluckiger defeated Rushton earlier in the day with a pin at 1:21.
On the down side of the day, both Dana Holland (Sr., Glendale Heights, Ill.) and Rocky Smart (Sr., Pleasant Grove, Utah) saw their collegiate campaigns come to an end one match shy of becoming All-Americans as they each lost in the consolations for a second time. Holland dropped a 7-1 decision to Penn State's Scott Moore, the No. 9 seed, while Smart fell to No. 1 seed Luke Becker of Minnesota, 10-5.
Fluckiger and Owen will compete in their respective consolation matches to open action Saturday morning and then will battle in the placing match later in the morning session. Larkin will have to wait until the early evening hours to face Lawrence for the third time this year. Larkin, and all championship final matches will be tape delay broadcast by ESPN2 starting at 6 p.m. EST.