No. 10 Wrestling Faces No. 8 Lehigh On The Road

Nov. 15, 2005

Match Notes (pdf) | Schedule & Results | Roster | Statistics

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University wrestling team (3-0, 1-0 Pac-10) returns to the road this week for a Top 10 dual battle as the Sun Devils are set to face No. 8 Lehigh (3-1, 0-0 EIWA) Thursday evening in Bethlehem, Pa., at 7 p.m. Following their meeting with the Mountain Hawks, the Sun Devils will travel to the East Stroudsburg Open which is set for Saturday morning. Several members of the team not making the trip to Pennsylvania will travel to Fullerton, Calif., on Saturday morning for the Fullerton Open.

Arizona State opened its 2005-06 season last weekend at the Portland State Duals where its took on three opponents in dual action and won all three in convincing fashion. The Sun Devils opened the day with a 38-6 defeat of Pacific (Ore.) before taking down Southern Oregon, 28-9. In the final dual of the day, the Sun Devils won their Pac-10 opener as it handed the host Vikings a 43-6 setback.

Not only did the team start strong, but also its individual wrestlers. In all, 11 different Sun Devils took to the mat on Saturday with seven going undefeated on the day, six of which went 3-0. Those triple winners included Jeremy Mendoza (125), Jason Robbins (141), Pat Payne (149), Patrick Pitsch (165), Ryan Bader (197) and Cain Velasquez (285) while Kevin Gaughan (157) went undefeated in his two appearances. In all, ASU wrestlers combined to go 25-5 on the on day with a 9-0 mark against Pac-10 foes (ASU forfeited at 157).

Five wrestlers made their debut for the Sun Devils over the weekend, combining to go 9-1 on the day. True freshman Jason Robbins (141) posted a 3-0 record, including a win by major decision while redshirt freshman Alex Pavlenko (174) went 1-1 in a pair of bouts decided by decision. Pat Payne (149), who is in his third year with ASU, wrestled his first matches as a Sun Devil following a redshirt season and an injury season last year to go 3-0 with one major decision and one technical fall. A pair of transfers also made their way into the lineups with Kevin Gaughan (157), a transfer from James Madison, going 2-0 while Chris Remsen (174), who came to Tempe from NC State, was forced to retire from his match after sustaining an injury in the second period.

Last year, Patrick Pitsch went 24-15 in his first season of action for the Sun Devils. In those 39 bouts, Pitsch did not pin an opponent while also not allowing an opponent to pin him. In his first match of the 2005-06 season, Pitsch collected his first collegiate pin as he defeated Marshall Cook with the fall at 5:42. His pin was one of five recorded by ASU wrestlers on the weekend.

Three of the Sun Devils' five seniors saw mat action over the weekend with all three posting 3-0 records to open their final seasons of competition for the maroon and gold. Jeremy Mendoza (125), Ryan Bader (197) and Cain Velasquez (285) each swept their opponents and combined to record three major decisions, one technical fall and four pins.

The Sun Devils' big man, Cain Velasquez, has been very dominating since coming to Tempe as he has won 29 of his 63 career matches by either major decision, technical fall or fall, including all three of his bouts this season. For his career, the 2005 All-American (fifth place) has won 16 bouts by major decision, seven by technical fall and six by fall. He currently stands 53-10 in his career and is the defending Pac-10 champion at heavyweight.

Of the 30 bouts contested over the weekend, 17 victories recorded by ASU wrestlers earned bonus points in the team race. Combined, the Sun Devils won five bouts by fall (six points), three by technical fall (five points), seven by major decision (four points) and two by injury default or forfeit (six points).

After easily defeating three teams at the Portland State Duals, the Sun Devils will have a much tougher task on their hands this week as the face the No. 8 team in the nation, Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks are the first nationally ranked team ASU will face this year, but it certainly will not be the last as duals with No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 5 Iowa, No. 6 Minnesota, No. 7 Iowa State and No. 21 Cal Poly are all on the slate. The next dual ASU enters also will be its next 'tough' dual as it plays host to the No. 5 Hawkeyes at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26 at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.

The Sun Devils are set to send wrestlers to two different tournaments this weekend with a majority of the team staying in Pennsylvania this weekend for the East Stroudsburg Open while two Sun Devils, Brian Stith and Quinton Pruett, will compete in the Fullerton Open on Saturday morning. At the ESU Open, ASU will face opponents from schools like Bloomsburg, Columbia, Harvard, Hofstra, Army, James Madison and Lock Haven.

The Mountain Hawks, who have won 33 EIWA Championships in their history, are 3-1 overall on the year following a 2-1 record at the recent Pennsylvania State Dual Championship tournament in which they placed second. So far in 2005, Lehigh has defeated Rider, Williamson and Lock Haven and lost to No. 12 Penn State. Individually, five Mountain Hawks hold Top 20 national rankings, including No. 2 Troy Letters (165), No. 3 Cory Cooperman (141), No. 7 Travis Frick (174), No. 12 Derek Zinck (157) and No. 20 Matt Ciasulli (149). Head Coach Greg Strobel is in his 11th season at Lehigh and holds a record of 153-56.

The Sun Devils and Mountain Hawks have met three previous times with ASU holding a 2-1-0 lead. In the last meeting, the Sun Devils and Mountain Hawks tied, 21-21, at the 2002 NWCA National Duals in Columbus, Ohio, with ASU taking the win on criteria. ASU also won the other neutral site meeting in a 22-15 decision in 1998. LU won in Tempe, 26-9, during the 1999 season for the only meeting at one of the schools' home facilities.

Here are the probable starters for the ASU at Lehigh dual Thursday night (ASU then LU):
125 • #9 Jeremy Mendoza (3-0) vs. Mike Fisk (1-0)
133 • Adam Hickey (2-1) vs. John Stout (1-2)
141 • Jason Robbins (3-0) vs. #3 Cory Cooperman (3-0)
149 • Pat Payne (3-0) vs. #20 Matt Ciasulli (2-1)
157 • Kevin Gaughan (2-0) vs. #12 Derek Zinck (3-0)
165 • #11 Patrick Pitsch (3-0) vs. #2 Troy Letters (5-0)
174 • Alex Pavlenko (1-1) or Jamie Robbins (0-0) vs. #7 Travis Frick (2-1)
184 • Jason Trulson (2-1) vs. David Helfrich (3-0)
197 • #10 Ryan Bader (3-0) vs. Matt Cassidy (4-2) or Paul Weibel (1-1)
285 • #4 Cain Velasquez (3-0) vs. Tom Curl (0-1) or Dan Murrer (1-1)

Several wrestling publications recently released their preseason rankings with the Sun Devils earning placement in the Top 20 as both a team and individually. In the team rankings, Arizona State will open the season as the No. 10 team in the nation according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) and USA Today. In their individual rankings, six Sun Devils have earned rankings with Cain Velasquez (285) leading the way at No. 4. Also receiving rankings were No. 6 Brian Stith (157), No. 9 Jeremy Mendoza (125), No. 10 C.B. Dollaway (184), No. 10 Ryan Bader (197) and No. 11 Patrick Pitsch (165).

Arizona State won the 2005 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships to not only capture its second crown in three years, but also the 15th in the history of the program. Brian Stith (157) upset Matt Gentry of Stanford, the defending Pac-10 and NCAA champion, to win his weight class and earn Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships. Cain Velasquez (heavyweight) also secured a title, the first of his career, before being named as the Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year. C.B. Dollaway (184) and Ryan Bader (197) each advanced to the finals of their respective weight classes before placing second.

   At the conference level, seven Sun Devils are ranked in the Top 5 according to the preseason poll released by Stanford, the host of the 2006 event. Jeremy Mendoza (125), Stith, Bader and Velasquez are each ranked No. 1 while Patrick Pitsch (165) and Dollaway are both No. 2. John Espinoza (133) also is ranked, coming in at No. 4.

Arizona State has three All-Americans returning to its lineup this season, including a pair of first-time honorees from a year ago. Last year, Brian Stith earned his first national accolade by placing sixth at 157 pounds while Cain Velasquez took fifth in the heavyweight division to earn his first honor. Ryan Bader is the Sun Devils' third All-American returning after earning the acclaim in his sophomore campaign of 2003-04.

Three members of the Sun Devils earned post-season awards from the Pac-10 last year, including two wrestlers and one coach. At the conference tournament, Brian Stith was voted by the league coaches as the Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships following his title at 157 pounds. After the completion of the NCAA Championships, another vote was taken by the conference coaches with Cain Velasquez (285) receiving Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year while Head Coach Thom Ortiz was chosen as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year for the second time in his four years at the helm of the ASU program.

Thom Ortiz returns for his fifth season as the head coach of the Sun Devils and has compiled a 46-26-1 overall record at Arizona State and stands 26-2-0 in Pac-10 duals. The 2003 and 2005 Pac-10 Coach of the Year will be assisted by Aaron Simpson and Eric Larkin. Simpson is starting his eighth season while Larkin is set to begin his second. All three members of the staff also wrestled for the Sun Devils at one time with Ortiz competing on the 1988 NCAA Championship team and Larkin winning the 2003 NCAA 149 championship. Combined, the trio accounted for nine All-America honors and nine Pac-10 individual crowns.

Wells Fargo Arena, which opened in 1974, is a 14,198-seat facility that plays host to Sun Devil wrestling and other ASU varsity teams, including men's and women's basketball, gymnastics and volleyball. In the time the wrestling program has called WFA home, the team has captured one national title, two runner-up finishes and 16 conference crowns, including 15 as members of the Pac-10. Individually, five Sun Devils earned national titles while 55 different athletes captured 103 conference crowns and 66 individuals combined to secure 94 All-America honors.

The Sun Devils opened the 2005-06 season in dominating fashion over the weekend as they swept a trio of opponents at the Portland State Duals. Arizona State opened the day with nine wrestlers winning their bouts to pace the team to a 38-6 defeat of Pacific (Ore.). In the next dual, ASU downed Southern Oregon, 28-9, as the Sun Devils were victorious in seven of the 10 contested bouts. The finale was the Pac-10 opener for both ASU and Portland State as the Sun Devils again dominated with a nine-win performance to take a 43-6 decision from the host Vikings. In all, seven Sun Devils went undefeated on the day to pace the team.

Another tough foe awaits the Sun Devils as ASU will open its home schedule Saturday, Nov. 26, with a 6 p.m. dual against national powerhouse and fifth-ranked Iowa.

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