No. 18 ASU Wrestling Drops Close Decision to No. 19 Northern Iowa, 17-16
Feb. 15, 2004
TEMPE, Ariz. - When the No. 18 Arizona State wrestling took to the mats Sunday, the dual not only marked the final team-versus-team battle of the season for the Sun Devils, it also marked the final time a pair of seniors would compete inside Wells Fargo Arena in regular season action. Though the meet opened on a high not with one senior winning, the finale was not what the Sun Devils had hoped as No. 19 Northern Iowa clawed its way back into the dual and slipped out of town with a 17-16 victory. The loss dropped ASU to 11-8 on the season.
Prior to the match, the team and fans honored the contributions and successes of seniors Nick Frost (Tucson, Ariz.) and Ron Renzi (Burke, Va.). Once the presentations had been made, the teams got down to business with the dual opening at 184 pounds. In the opener, Frost scored a 14-5 major decision to stake the Sun Devils to a 4-0 lead. Frost exploded early for a 7-1 advantage after the first period before adding more points to attain his victory. Looking for more momentum, No. 2 Ryan Bader (So., Verdi, Nev.) came to the mat at 197 and met No. 6 Sean Stender. After neither wrestler scored in each of the first two periods and with Bader in the top position in the third period, Stender scored a two-point reversal with 18 seconds left in the match. Bader escaped to make the score 2-1, but could not score again.
Leading, 4-3, Clifford Starks (Jr., Phoenix, Ariz.) padded the ASU lead with a 5-2 decision victory at heavyweight to push the home team's advantage to 7-3. No. 11 Christian Staylor (Fr., Chesapeake, Va.) followed with an 8-4 decision at 125 while No. 10 Mike Simpson (Jr., Anaheim, Calif.) used a 6-5 decision to give the Sun Devils a 13-3 lead midway through the dual. Following a short break to honor the alumni in attendance, the momentum left the Sun Devil bench as the Panthers would win four of the next five bouts.
When action resumed, No. 7 Dylan Long topped Jeremy Mendoza (So., Temecula, Calif.) with a 14-3 major decision at 141, followed by Jeff Harrison upsetting No. 11 Patrick Williams (Jr., Homestead, Fla.) at 149 with a 3-2 decision. With the ASU advantage chipped down to 13-10, Brian Stith (Fr., Hampton, Va.) stepped in at 157 and handed Nick Baima a 7-5 defeat to push the team score to 16-10. But the Panthers came back with an 11-3 major decision by No. 15 Hesston Johnson over Jamie Robbins (Fr., Mesa, Ariz.) to set up the exciting finale.
With the Sun Devils leading 16-14, the hopes of the team victory were placed on the shoulders of Renzi as he battled No. 4 Eric Hauan. In the first period, Hauan scored a takedown with Renzi quickly escaping to send it to the second period at 2-1 Hauan. With the UNI wrestler down, Hauan escaped and then caught Renzi in a move for a takedown to lead 4-2 after two. Renzi quickly escaped to start the final stanza, but again was caught by Hauan as he tried a takedown and eventually lost the match, 7-3.
In two weeks, Wells Fargo Arena will play host to the 2004 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships with competition set for both February 29 and March 1. The Sun Devils will look to defend their 2003 conference crown, the 14th in the history of the program, while also qualifying for the 2004 NCAA Championships.