Eric Larkin and ASU Wrestling Honored at Sun Devil Baseball Game
March 24, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. - Between innings of the No. 1 Arizona State versus No. 6 Stanford baseball game at Packard Stadium Monday evening, Sun Devil national champion wrestler Eric Larkin (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.) and head coach Thom Ortiz were honored for their accomplishments during the 2003 season. Nearly 4,000 fans were in the stands and gave the duo a warm welcome as they stood near home plate.
Larkin, one of four Sun Devils to earn All-America honors four times in a career and just the sixth ASU grappler to win a national title, went a perfect 34-0 in 2003 to improve his career mark to 123-12. After winning his fourth Pac-10 Championship three weeks ago in Boise, Idaho, Larkin traveled to Kansas City, Mo., as the top-seeded man at 149 pounds and won six matches in a row to claim gold. He won his title before a record crowd of over 16,000 fans, handing No. 2 Jared Lawrence of Minnesota a 10-8 decision.
Larkin joins heavyweight Curley Culp (1967), Eddie Urbano (1985) at 150, Dan St. John at 158 (1989) and 167 (1990), Ray Miller at 167 (1993) and Markus Mollica at 158 (1993) and 167 (1995) as ASU's national champions. Upon joining this select group, Larkin was honored by the NCAA as the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler, given annually to the competitor that proved to be the best of the champions crowned in each of the 10 weight classes at the national event. He is the first Sun Devil to win such a prestigious honor.
Ortiz, who guided the Sun Devils to their 14th Pac-10 team championship this year, was honored on behalf of the team for the stellar season ASU had which finished with the Sun Devils finishing fifth in the nation. Some of the teams ASU placed ahead of at the national meet were perennial powers like Iowa, Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State. In all, Ortiz guided six of his wrestlers to Pac-10 gold as three of them move on to claim All-America honors. Those three were Larkin and first time winners Curtis Owen (Sr., Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) at 174 and heavyweight Kellan Fluckiger (Sr., Preston, Idaho), who took fourth and fifth, respectively.