WRESTLING JOURNAL #6: This Week in ASU Wrestling with Aaron Simpson

Jan. 10, 2006

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1/10/05 (Headed to the National Duals)
After lasts week's journal entry, I received a lot of comments regarding my boxing match with Cain Velasquez. I will let you know I am doing fine. My nose is healing up and I am walking normally again. Many stated I was 'crazy' for even thinking about boxing Cain while others, including my wife, just laughed at my stupidity. But, you have to understand I still think I can hold my own. I am not quite over-the-hill. I have even been known to take the beast known as Cain down a couple of times. I have to get him when he is real tired and I am fresh, but I can still get him with a couple of tricks. So, I thought maybe I'd do the same when it came to boxing. WRONG! I will move forward...

First, it is time to name the Wrestler of the Match. I am sure it will come as no surprise to you that C.B. Dollaway was selected for this honor after winning both his bouts at the Sun Devil Duals that also included a pin of the No. 6 wrestler in the nation in just 1:06! Dollaway is not 3-0 on the year with two of his victories coming against Top 12 opponents. Congratulations C.B. and now, on to the journal!

On Saturday (Jan. 7), we had our grand opening and dedication ceremony for the brand new Riches Family Wrestling Complex. If you were not in attendance, you will have to stop by the new room and see what we have done. I have been a Sun Devil for 12 years going on 13 now and spent most of that time in the old dungeon of a wrestling room in Wells Fargo Arena. This new room is like a breath of fresh air. We are reenergized and ready to get back to the top! Our program's rich history is now up on the walls with pictures of former wrestlers in the backdrop of beautiful desert mountains. Our individual national champions, along with our national championship team, are now celebrated by huge banners for everyone to see, remember and gather motivation from. We now tell our guys that their goal is to get a banner up on the wall for themselves. Our seniors, like Ryan Bader, Cain, C.B. Dollaway and Jeremy Mendoza will get one last chance to do this in March.

The following day, we dueled UC Davis and Iowa State. Within the two duals, I'd say we were semi-successful. We had some great matches and a big individual win. We defeated a tough UC Davis team who we have much respect for. With an excellent coaching staff in Lenny Zalesky, Mark Munoz and Jeremiah Jarvis, we knew we would have our work cut out for us. Patrick Pitsch, who has been sidelined with an injury suffered in Reno back in December, returned to defeat Frank Richmond, the No. 3 ranked man in the Pac-10. Pat always has tough matches with him but, Pat's toughest match would come later against ISU's No. 8 Travis Paulson.

We basically started out each dual being behind by six points due to the absence of Jason Robbins (141). He has been out with the flu and will hopefully return for the upcoming National Duals in Iowa. So we knew we would need some big wins and bonus points. We got the job done against UC Davis and then got ready to face Iowa State.

I will spare a run down of the matches because you can just look at the results but, I will say we really dug ourselves a hole going into 157 and had to have a big turn around to defeat a tough Iowa State team. After Stith's win, Pitsch took to the mat in hopes of beating eighth-ranked Paulson. At one point, we thought Pat was going to score a takedown as he had Paulson's leg up in the air and, right before he finished the move, Paulson dove under Pitsch tying up his ankles, stalemating the motion and defending the move. It was tied 1-1 as the third period was coming to a close and Pat made one fatal mistake: he let his fatigue get him out of position and Paulson took advantage of it. Pat was double legged for a takedown and lost 3-1. It was a tough loss for Pat because he is so close to breaking into the Top 8. He wants to be an All-American and national champion this year. He has to win those close matches.

Another tough loss came at 174. Alex Pavlenko, who seems to be wrestling better, was caught in a defensive pin where Alex was actually on top and had his legs in. Alex went to his back in hopes of getting near fall points against the ISU kid. Instead, Alex was held flat on his back and was called for the fall. I must say, I have seen this happen and the new NCAA rules are allowing referees to look for this more often and are supposed to call the pin. It was a good call and a good lesson for Alex.

At that point, the pin of Pavlenko put the match out of reach for us, but we still had another highly anticipated match next.

At 184, C.B. Dolloway wrestled 2004 All-American Kurt Backes, who was ranked sixth in the nation. Backes beat C.B. last year in the dual and is a very talented wrestler but, I believe that C.B. is even more talented. Backes got the first takedown and C.B. worked to escape making the score 2-1. Backes took a shot and C.B. countered with a lateral throw, pinning Backes to the mat in just over one minute. It happened so fast we were all in shock! C.B. showed the rest of the country he is a force to be reckoned with. I believe he is now ranked seventh in the country, which is nowhere near where he wants to be in March.

After the pin, Bader majored his guy, running his career win total to 102, tying him for 20th on the all-time wins list at ASU. Coach Douglas, out of fear for his heavyweight's life, forfeited to Cain and we ended up losing, 23-26. Once again, we were close to a big win, but not close enough.

We move forward. We look to get Pat Payne back in the line-up this week. We will also have Jason Robbins back at 141. We will take our toughest line-up yet into the National Duals this weekend in hopes of coming home with some hardware. The seeds are out and so are the draws. We will wrestle eighth-seeded Missouri at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. A win there will pit us against No. 1-seed Oklahoma State. A win against Mizzou is important because we want to wrestle Oklahoma State. We need another shot at heavyweight Steve Mocco (No. 1 in the country). We also want to wrestle Jake Rosholt at 197 and Johny Hendricks and 165. It will be good for Mendoza to wrestle OSU's 125-pounder, Coleman Scott, again. If we wrestle to our ability, you never know what could happen.

If you have been keeping up with us, you will know we are a very talented team with some great athletes. This weekend's duals will allow us to hit some great competition and hopefully defeat some of the top ranked teams. We need to stay healthy and continue to wrestle hard. You can keep up with us and the rest of the National Duals by going to http://www.intermatwrestle.com. They will be posting updates regularly.

Until next week, GO DEVILS!

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