Wrestling Competes at NWCA National Duals
Jan. 10, 2006
TEMPE, Ariz.The Arizona State University wrestling team stands 4-4 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-10 following a 1-2 showing last week and heads into the 2006 NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals ranked No. 18 in the latest national polls. The Sun Devils will be one 16 teams competing for the national team dual meet championship when the event gets underway at the UNI Dome on the Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Saturday and Sunday. ASU, which is not one of the eight seeded teams, will open the meet Saturday at 9 a.m. CST when it faces eighth-seeded and No. 9 nationally ranked Missouri.
Fifteen of the 16 teams entered into the event hold national rankings with one, Kent State, receiving votes in the latest NWCA/USA Today Top 25 poll (January 10). Eight of the Top 10 teams in the nation will be on hand, including No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 Iowa, No. 7 Central Michigan, No. 8 Iowa State and No. 9 Missouri. The remaining teams are No. 12 Cornell, No. 13 Northwestern, No. 14 Nebraska, No. 18 Arizona State, No. 19 Hofstra, No. 23 Northern Illinois, No. 24 Northern Iowa and Kent State. The eight teams in the Top 10 (in order of their listing above) are also the eight seeded teams in the event.
NATIONAL DUAL HISTORY
ASU has competed in the National Duals 13 of the 16 years it has been conducted and holds a 29-27 overall record. The Sun Devils, who have placed in the Top 8 on eight occasions, advanced to the finals each of the first two years (1989 and 1990) before falling to Oklahoma State both times to place second overall. ASU will look to rebound from a tough tournament one year ago as the Sun Devils did not win a dual for the first time, going 0-2 with losses to Michigan (24-16) and Central Michigan (20-19).
At the 2003 National Duals in Columbus, Ohio, the Sun Devils were seeded eighth and finished the tournament with a 3-2 record and seventh place in the standings. Their first dual of the competition was against Missouri, which the Sun Devils won, 19-17. Upon winning, ASU then faced Oklahoma State, the Sun Devils' possible opponent in the second round.
Each week throughout the 2005-06 season, Sun Devil Assistant Coach Aaron Simpson will provide an inside look at the team as he submits journal entries to thesundevils.com. Visit the wrestling page on the official athletic web site of Arizona State Athletics to see what Coach Simpson has to say about a previous meet, the team's preparations and other interesting facts and stories about the Sun Devils.
Along with the weekly journal, the coaching staff will select a wrestler of the match. This week, both Alex Pavlenko (174) and C.B. Dollaway (184) were selected for their upset victories at Minnesota while Dollaway earned the honor for his outstanding performances in the Sun Devil Duals. To see all the winners this season, visit thesundevils.com and click on the link in the latest journal entry from Coach Simpson.
TEN IN A ROW
In its first of two duals Sunday at the Sun Devil Duals, Arizona State took on Pac-10 foe UC Davis and scored a 25-18 victory over the Aggies to not only stretch its record to 2-0 on the season in the conference, but also gave ASU its 10th victory in a row over Pac-10 teams. The Sun Devils' last loss came in the final dual of the 2004 season when they absorbed a 20-17 setback on the road to Cal State Bakersfield. The loss snapped a nine-dual winning streak as well, giving ASU victories in 19 of its last 20 and 26 of 28 under Head Coach Thom Ortiz.
C.B. Dollaway made his return to the starting spot at 184 at Minnesota last week and is 3-0 following a trio of victories. He opened the week by upsetting No. 11 Roger Kish of Minnesota with a controlled 3-0 decision. Then, Sunday, at the Sun Devil Duals, Dollaway opened the day with an 8-2 decision over Tyler Bernacchi, the third-ranked wrestler in the Pac-10, before closing out his opening weekend with a pin of No. 6 Kurt Backes of Iowa State at 1:06. Because of his early success, Dollaway moved into the national rankings for the first time this year, holding the No. 8 position. He also is ranked No. 2 in the Pac-10.
Heading into his senior season, Ryan Bader stood 88-34 in his career with the Sun Devils. So far this season, Bader has compiled an 14-2 record to bring his career mark to 102-36, making him the 21st Sun Devil to reach 100 wins in a career. Bader captured victory No. 100 with a 6-1 decision over Mitch Kuhlman at Minnesota. Bader also won both of his bouts at the Sun Devil Duals against UC Davis and Iowa State to add to his total.
Ryan Bader's chase for 100 victories is not the only place in the record books he is nearing in on. Following last week's action, Bader is 7-1 and has improved his career dual record to 44-19 overall. His win total ties him for the 17th-most in program history with Shawn Charles, who went 44-15-5 from 1990-93. With at least 10 duals remaining on the schedule in 2006, Bader could reach the Top 10 in dual victories, needing just seven more wins to tie for 10th overall. Joining him in this chase is another senior, Jeremy Mendoza. After going 8-0 in duals so far this season, Mendoza improved to 34-15 overall in his dual meet career and will need seven more on the season to crack into the Top 20.
MENDOZA ON A TEAR
Jeremy Mendoza, a senior walk-on starter from Temecula, Calif., has made the most of his senior season so far as he has climbed to No. 6 in the national rankings with a 20-1 record and the championship title at the 2005 Reno Tournament of Champions. Mendoza also has built an 8-0 record in dual competition this season and his lone loss came in the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational to Cornell's Troy Nickerson, currently ranked No. 5 in the nation. Mendoza entered the season with a career mark of 52-39 and is now 72-40 in his career.
Before the turn of the New Year last season, Cain Velasquez had built a 14-3 overall record with two of his losses coming to Greg Wagner of Michigan at the Las Vegas Invitational and Steve Mocco of Oklahoma State in the final of the Reno Tournament. After that loss to Mocco, Velasquez would run off 18 victories in a row to win the Pac-10 title before finishing fourth at the NCAA Championships. This season, Velasquez holds a 20-3 record with his losses coming at the hands of Wagner in Las Vegas, Mocco in the finals of the Reno event and Cole Konrad of Minnesota. Those three men were also the lone wrestlers to defeat Velasquez one year ago. At the National Duals this weekend, Velasquez could get a chance at revenge with all three as No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Minnesota and No. 5 Michigan are all entered into the tournament.
LOOKING BACK: NATIONAL DUALS 2005
For the first time in 16 appearances in the National Duals, the Sun Devils failed to win a dual as they were bounced from the tournament with an 0-2 record. Arizona State opened the tournament with a 24-16 loss at the hands of Michigan, the No. 3 seed in the event, before falling to Central Michigan, 20-19, in the consolation bracket.
Jeremy Mendoza (125) and Brian Stith (157) won the second and third, respectively, individual crowns this season for the Sun Devils by taking first place at the Reno Tournament of Champions. The duo joins Cain Velasquez (285) as the only individual champions on the year after the Sun Devil big man won the season-opening East Stroudsburg Open.
In their final campaigns for the Sun Devils, four seniors have fared quite well on the mats this season as the quartet has combined for a 57-6 overall record. Jeremy Mendoza leads the way with a 20-1 mark while Cain Velasquez stands 20-3. Ryan Bader is 14-2 with C.B. Dollaway, who just returned to the starting line up, is 3-0.
Four Sun Devils have started their seasons in strong form as each has accumulated more than 13 wins and lost no more than three matches. Jeremy Mendoza and Cain Velasquez each have 20 wins (20-1 and 20-3, respectively) while Ryan Bader (14-2) and Brian Stith (13-1) round out the strong starters.
The Tigers enter the dual ranked ninth in the nation and seeded eighth in the tournament bracket with a 6-0 record on the season. Brian Smith's Tigers are led by Ben Askren, the top-ranked wrestler in the nation at 184 pound. Askren is one of seven Tigers currently ranked in the Top 20 nationally and is joined in the Top 5 by No. 4 Matt Pell at 165.
SUN DEVILS VS. TIGERS
Arizona State holds a 2-0-0 advantage in the series, winning both duals on neutral mats. The most recent meeting saw the Sun Devils take a 19-17 decision in the first round of the 2003 NWCA National Duals held in Columbus, Ohio. The first meeting was a 34-9 victory for ASU on January 21, 1989, in the second of three duals at the Oklahoma State Cowboy Duals.
Four bouts will feature a meeting of Top 20 foes, including matches at 125, 165, 184 and 197. Those meetings will see No. 6 Jeremy Mendoza (125) against No. 18 Austin DeVoe; No. 11 Patrick Pitsch (165) against No. 4 Matt Pell; No. 8 C.B. Dollaway (184) against No. 17 Raymond Jordan; and No. 14 Ryan Bader (197) against No. 15 Jeff Foust.
SCOUTING: POSSIBLE MEETINGS
After the first round meeting with Missouri, the Sun Devils will face either Oklahoma State or Kent State. ASU has not had much success against the Cowboys as OSU leads the series, 36-3, while the Sun Devils and Golden Flashes have not met. Here are the other possible opponents ASU could face with the series records (ASU listed first) for those meetings: Iowa (1-21-1); Nebraska (4-9-1); Michigan (3-3); Northern Illinois (0-0); Oklahoma (14-20-1); Cornell (1-0); Central Michigan (1-1); Northern Iowa (5-2); Iowa State (5-20); Northwestern (3-0); Minnesota (9-8) and Hofstra (0-0).
STICK IT TO'EM
So far this season, the Sun Devils have combined to pin 20 opponents with nearly half of those (eight in total) have come during dual meets. Cain Velasquez (285) leads the team with six falls while Jeremy Mendoza (125) is just behind him with five. Brian Stith (157), Alex Pavlenko (174) and Ryan Bader (197) also have contributed two falls to the total.
Stanford, the host of the 2006 Pac-10 Championships, released updated rankings for the conference January 10 with seven Sun Devils holding positions in the Top 6 and the team moving ahead of Cal Poly for first in the team rankings. Jeremy Mendoza (125), Brian Stith (157), Ryan Bader (197) and Cain Velasquez (285) are each ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes while Pat Payne (149), Patrick Pitsch (165) and C.B. Dollaway (184) each sit second. This week's rankings mark the first time this season Dollaway has appeared in the Top 6 conference rankings.
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. Thom Ortiz was selected Coach of the Year after leading the team to its 15th Pac-10 title.
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.
AT THE HELM
Thom Ortiz returns for his fifth season as the head coach of the Sun Devils and has compiled a 47-30-1 overall record at Arizona State and stands 27-2-0 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 won nine All-America honors and nine Pac-10 individual crowns.
RICHES WRESTLING COMPLEX
On Saturday, January 7, the Sun Devils dedicated their new training facility in a joint celebration with the gymnastic team. The Riches Wrestling Complex, the John Spini Women's Gymnastics Training Center and the Cavanagh/Dickey Olympic Sports Plaza were dedicated and showcased as fans and over 200 supporters toured two of the premier training centers in the nation while both teams showcased their teams by holding practices. The facilities are located off Sixth Street behind the Kajikawa Football Practice Fields and beyond the outfield wall at Farrington Softball Stadium.
WELLS FARGO ARENA
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.
LAST TIME OUT
Arizona State competed in a trio of duals with one taking place on the road and two duals coming against Top 7 ranked foes. The Sun Devils opened the week with a close 23-19 loss at undefeated and No. 2 Minnesota. Alex Pavlenko (174) and C.B. Dollaway (184) upset ranked foes before Ryan Bader (197) brought the Sun Devils to within one point of victory, but No. 2 Cole Konrad escaped with a 3-2 decision over No. 4 Cain Velasquez to give the hosts the win. Back home for the Sun Devil Duals, the Sun Devils opened with a come-from-behind defeat of Pac-10 foe UC Davis, 25-18, before falling in a narrow decision to No. 7 Iowa State, 26-23. Once again, Dollaway gave the Sun Devils something to cheer for as he pinned the No. 6 wrestler in the nation, Kurt Backes, in 1:06.
NEXT TIME OUT
Pac-10 dual action gets underway next weekend as the Sun Devils play host to a pair of conference foes inside Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State first plays host to Oregon State at 7 p.m. Friday night before welcoming Oregon at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The duals with the Oregon schools are two of the final four home duals of the season and two of the last three to be held at Wells Fargo Arena. The final WFA dual will take place February 12 at 2 p.m. against conference rival Stanford. The Sun Devils also will hold a 'home' dual against Fresno State two days earlier at 7 p.m., but the venue of the meeting with the Bulldogs is still being determined.