Quartet of Duals Await No. 11 Arizona State This Week

Dec. 29, 2003

Weekly Notes in pdf Format

TEMPE, Ariz. - No. 11 Arizona State (0-1, 0-0 Pac-10) will compete in four duals this week, two against Top 10 competition, as the Sun Devils first hit the road before returning home for three. Action opens Thursday in Minneapolis, Minn., with a 2 p.m. match-up with No. 10 Minnesota. The Sun Devils return home Sunday for three duals: Stanford (10 a.m.), Embry-Riddle (noon) and No. 2 Iowa State (4 p.m.).

BADER CLIMBING TOWARD THE TOP
With a 13-1 overall record and tournament titles won at the Missouri Open and Reno Tournament of Champions this year, Ryan Bader has climbed the national rankings to No. 3. His near-perfect record and high national ranking will be put to the test Thursday on the road as he faces top-ranked and defending NCAA champion Damion Hahn of Minnesota in ASU's first dual of the week.

CHALLENGE AHEAD
Brian Stith (157) will have a challenge ahead of him this week as well. Ranked 10th in the latest polls, Stith will face two undefeated wrestlers (as of Dec. 29) in No. 6 Matt Gentry of Stanford and No. 4 Travis Paulson of Iowa State, on the same day.

PAIR OF KINGS
Both Ryan Bader (197) and Cain Velasquez (HWT) exited the Reno Tournament of Champions as the champions of their weight brackets, giving Bader his second title of the year and Velasquez his first since joining the Sun Devil squad. In all, five ASU wrestlers reached the finals with Christian Staylor (125), Mike Simpson (133) and Patrick Williams (149) taking second.

RETURN
Mike Simpson, the defending Pac-10 champion at 133 pounds, returned to the starting line up at the Reno event to place second. Simpson went 3-1 in the tournament with wins over No. 12 Sean Markey of Citadel in the quarterfinals and Jason Harless of Oregon in the semifinals. In the finals, Cal Poly's Darrell Vasquez, a true freshman, continued to shine as he defeated Simpson, 4-3.

ANOTHER STRONG FINISH
Arizona State has fared well this year in its two scored tournaments, most recently with a solid showing at the Reno Tournament of Champions. With 127.5 points, the Sun Devils finished second to No. 1 Oklahoma State (205.5) to give the team its second Top 5 finish. ASU took fifth at Las Vegas (105.5).

SUN DEVILS VS GOLDEN GOPHERS
Arizona State and Minnesota (0-1) have met on the mats 14 times with the Sun Devils holding a 9-5 lead in the series, though they have dropped the last two contests. UM is led by coach J Robinson and eight nationally ranked wrestlers. Leading the way is No. 1 Damion Hahn at 197, the defending NCAA Champion.

2004 SUN DEVIL DUALS
Eight teams will compete in the 2004 Sun Devil Duals including several highly ranked squads. No. 2 Iowa State, No. 8 Missouri, No. 11 ASU, No. 18 West Virginia and No. 23 Cal Poly will all compete with American, Embry-Riddle and Stanford filling the field.

SUN DEVILS VS CARDINAL
Though Arizona State and Stanford are conference foes, this will be just the fourth time they have faced one another. The Sun Devils hold a 3-0 record in the series and renew a series that was last contested in the 1985-86 season. Coach Steve Buddie's team is 2-1 on the year and is led by Matt Gentry at 157 who is 14-0 (heading into the Midlands tournament Dec. 29-30).

SUN DEVILS VS EAGLES
An intrastate foe, Arizona State is 4-0 all-time against Embry-Riddle following a 46-0 blanking of the Eagles in the 2003 Sun Devil Duals. John Perry is in his first season at the helm of the program that is 2-1. Tyler Moran at 149 leads the team following his title at the Menlo Tournament.

SUN DEVILS VS CYCLONES
Student meets teacher as Thom Ortiz and ASU face former Sun Devil coach Bobby Douglas and Iowa State. The Cyclones are 18-4 all-time against the Sun Devils and have won 11 in a row. ISU (8-0) is led by three lower-weight wrestlers that are undefeated on the year (heading into the Midlands), each posting more than 10 wins apiece.

2003 SUN DEVIL DUALS IN REVIEW
Arizona State went 2-1 in the Sun Devil Duals last year, winning its first two matches before falling in the finale. The day opened with ASU downing Lock Haven, 21-16, for the 400th win in school history. The Sun Devils then blanked Embry-Riddle, 46-0, before falling to Minnesota, 26-13.

OLYMPIC COACHES
USA Wrestling has announced a trio of people with ties to Arizona State will coach the USA Olympic Wrestling teams in Athens in 2004. Zeke Jones will share duties guiding the men's freestyle team while Townsend Saunders and his wife Tricia will guide the women's freestyle team.

ARIZONA STATE IN THE RANKINGS
According to the national team rankings released Dec. 16-17, the Sun Devils are No. 11 in both the NWCA Coaches Poll and InterMat. The ranking is the highest for the team this season.

INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS
Ryan Bader leads the way for the team as he is ranked No. 3 in both Amateur Wrestling News and InterMat.com. In the AWN poll (Dec. 16), both Patrick Williams (149) and Brian Stith (157) are 10th with Cain Velasquez (HWT) and Nick Frost (184) being ranked 11th and 12th, respectively. In the Intermat.com poll (Dec. 16), Stith and Frost are ninth with Williams in 11th and Velasquez in 12th. TheWrestlingMall.com has not released new rankings since Dec. 1.

RECAP: RENO TOURNAMENT
Arizona State, with 127.5 points, finished a distant second to No. 1 Oklahoma State (205.5) at the Reno Tournament of Champions (Dec. 18). Pac-10 Conference foes Cal State Bakersfield (105.5), Boise State (83.5) and Cal Poly (79) rounded out the Top 5 team standings. In the four years the Sun Devils have competed in the Reno event, they have placed in the Top 3 every time.

Individually, Ryan Bader (197) captured his second tournament title of the season while heavyweight Cain Velasquez won his first. In all, eight Sun Devils placed in the tournament. Christian Staylor (125), Mike Simpson (133) and Patrick Williams (149) each reached the finals before falling in the championship match to place second in the event. Brian Stith (157), Ron Renzi (174) and Nick Frost (184) each placed sixth in the event after medically defaulting out of the event once they fell into the consolation brackets.

NEXT TIME ON THE MATS
Arizona State returns to action Friday and Saturday, Jan. 9-10, in Hampton, Va., for the Virginia Duals. The Sun Devils will be one of seven nationally ranked teams to compete in the event, led by No. 3 Lehigh and No. 4 Nebraska. Behind ASU are No. 19 Wisconsin, No. 20 Purdue, No. 22 Edinboro and No. 25 Citadel.

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