WRESTLING JOURNAL #3: This Week in ASU Wrestling with Aaron Simpson

Dec. 12, 2005

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12/12/05 (Finals Week for the Sun Devils)
It is finals week for the Sun Devils. It is time to batten down the hatches and make sure we are prepared to finish out the semester on a good note. We did not compete this past weekend because of the tests, but we did train them hard. We were also able to get them into the weight room more and make sure that if we had injuries, they were addressed and rested. We will be finishing 2005 by making our annual trip to the Reno Tournament of Champions. We've always had great success there knowing it is the last tournament we will hit before we get into the dual meet portion of the season.

On another note, I would like to mention the great support that we had at the Las Vegas Invitational. Vegas is an interesting tournament because fans can follow athletes right to the side of the mats. This is not something you normally see at college tournaments, so we were really able to interact with our parents and fans. At any given moment, we'd be sitting in the corner and we'd look over and see our fans standing matside! In one case, Pat Payne was wrestling and something happened where riding time was not moving. I get this tap on my shoulder and it is Pat's dad Mark, letting me know of the problem. We got the riding time issue taken care of. At that point, I just smiled to myself. You see, we have some awesome guys on our team and when you meet their parents, you realize why the kids are the way they are.

I will take this time to mention some of the parents and fans that came to support. Both Ryan Bader's parents and grandpa were there. They almost always are. Pat Payne's parents also made the trip up from San Diego (we also saw them out at our Lehigh dual in Pennsylvania). Patrick Pitsch's parents came all the way from Washington to support both ASU and Oregon State. Their son Dan Pitsch wrestles at 197 lbs. for the Beavers. You have to love their torn support. (Grandma Pitsch and momma Pitsch love wearing their half ASU-half OSU t-shirts that a family member designed!). My dad, Mike Simpson, drove up from Phoenix to watch the guys. He already had the tournament seeded a week in advance (he's been doing that my whole life.) Lisa and Dave Larkin did not get enough wrestling when Eric and Evan competed, so they were in attendance as well. Also in attendance were longtime ASU supporters Bobby Williams and Tom Daniels. I do not believe there are too many big competitions either misses. Former two-time Pac-10 Champ Nick Frost and his dad, Mike, were there. It was also very cool seeing Rick Renzi, John Espinoza and Marc Rizio there pulling for their teammates. As a coaching staff, we were happy to see and spend time with everyone.

In this third journal entry, I would like to hit on some things that are directly related to our athletes and coaches, yet do not necessarily involve wrestling. I kind of stole it from ESPN's 'Did You Know' segment. There are some very interesting facts about our team that most do not know. So, did you know:

... Assistant Coach Eric Larkin and his wife, Melissa, have three boys: Kaden (3), Kaleb (2) and baby Kyler Steven (5 months), who is named after the late Steve Blackford.

... Patrick Pitsch (165) is a man of many talents, one being the ability to play the trumpet. At one time in his life, he entertained the thought of trying out for the Washington Symphony. Pat is also as skilled in gymnastics, diving and talking!

... Jeremy Mendoza (125) is a former Judo National Champion who ended up choosing wrestling once he enrolled in high school. Every once in a while, he'll entertain the fans with a nice high flying toss that dates back to his judo days.

... Rick Renzi (174) has some unbelievable dance moves. He was enrolled in an ASU dance class that held an end of the semester competition. Out of 80 competitors, Ricky (using only one arm due to season ending shoulder surgery) and his partner made it to the finals of the competition. Now, that is pretty impressive to say the least.

Finally, this upcoming weekend in Reno, we will be competing against some great competition like Penn State, Oklahoma State, Central Michigan and Northwestern. We will see how our guys respond after having a little down time during finals. Upon our return from Christmas break, we will be training hard as there are only nine weeks to prepare for the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City. Seniors Cain Velasquez, Ryan Bader, C.B. Dollaway and Jeremy Mendoza will look to finish their careers on a high note with a big finish in March! Until next time ... GO DEVILS!


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