Trio of Pac-10 Road Duals Await #11 ASU Wrestling

Jan. 25, 2006

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TEMPE, Ariz. After winning a pair of home conference duals last weekend over Oregon State and Oregon, the No. 11 Arizona State University wrestling team (9-6, 4-0 Pac-10) hits the road for a trio of Pac-10 clashes in the Golden State as the Sun Devils are set to meet No. 20 Cal Poly Friday evening before taking on Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Fullerton Sunday. ASU faces the Mustangs at 7 p.m. Friday night in San Luis Obispo before heading to Bakersfield for a noon meeting with the Roadrunners. Once that dual is complete, the Sun Devils will then drive to Fullerton and face the Titans at 6 p.m.

This weekend, the Sun Devils will certainly get their fill of traveling as they are set for three duals in California. On Thursday, the team will fly from Phoenix to San Luis Obispo (580 miles) where they will wrestle Cal Poly on Friday night. Saturday, the team will then drive 130 miles to Bakersfield for its noon dual Sunday. Immediately following the dual with the Roadrunners, the Sun Devils will make the 140 mile drive to Fullerton where they meet the Titans that night at 6 p.m. Following the dual with CSUF, the team will then drive 35 miles to the Los Angeles International Airport for its 390 mile flight back to Phoenix. All told, the team will travel approximately 1,275 miles (970 in flight, 305 in vans) to wrestle three duals (30 matches total).

Not only will Arizona State face three conference foes this weekend, it also will be jockeying for position in the seedings for the Pac-10 Championship tournament less than one month away. The Sun Devils will use their bouts this weekend to try and improve their ranking in the Pac-10 before heading to Stanford for the conference meet.

Three battles of No. 1 against No. 2 will be waged this weekend with two coming against Cal Poly. The Sun Devils are ranked first in the Pac-10 Conference while the Mustangs sit second. The two teams' 125 pound wrestlers also hold the Top 2 places with ASU's Jeremy Mendoza ranking first in the conference and CPU's Chad Mendes ranking second. One other 1-against-2 battle was slatted at 197, but it appears No. 1 Ryan Bader will win by forfeit as No. 2 Matt Montiero, along with two other 197-pound teammates, are out with leg injuries. The final 1-against-2 battle comes at 149 pounds in the ASU-CS Bakersfield dual where No. 1 Pat Payne of ASU will meet No. 2 Anthony Baza of CSUB.

During the 2004-05 season, the Sun Devils posted a perfect 8-0 record against Pac-10 foes. So far this season, Arizona State has won all four of its conference clashes to bring that streak to 12 in a row entering the weekend. In the five seasons Thom Ortiz has been at the helm of the ASU program, the Sun Devils have gone 29-2 against Pac-10 foes with their lone losses coming at the hands of Oregon State in 2003 (18-16 in Corvallis) and Cal State Bakersfield (20-17 in Bakersfield). Overall, ASU is 18-0 at home against Pac-10 foes with Ortiz as its coach, including a 25-18 defeat of UC Davis earlier this year.

During the Thom Ortiz years, the Sun Devils have lost only two Pac-10 duals: one at Oregon State in 2003 and one at Cal State Bakersfield in 2004. Last year, Arizona State avenged its loss to the Beavers by winning 29-9 in Corvallis. This weekend, the Sun Devils will look to win at Bakersfield and avenge its close 20-17 loss in 2004.

So far this season, the Sun Devils are 9-6 overall with all six losses coming at the hands of teams ranked among the Top 8 teams in the nation. Arizona State has lost duals to No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Minnesota, No. 5 Iowa, No. 5 Michigan, No. 7 Iowa State and No. 8 Lehigh. Only Lehigh (No. 12 this week) has fallen out of the Top 10 since taking on ASU.

In 15 duals this season, Arizona State has faced nine nationally ranked foes and posted a 3-6 record. The victories all came at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals as the Sun Devils, then ranked No. 18 in the nation, twice upset No. 9 Missouri and added an upset of No. 13 Northwestern as well. The Sun Devils will look to add another defeat of a Top 25 team this weekend when it faces No. 20 Cal Poly Friday night in San Luis Obispo.

With his team's 21-21 defeat (on criteria) of No. 9 Missouri in the seventh-place dual Sunday at the 2006 NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals, Head Coach Thom Ortiz collected the 50th victory in his coaching career, raising his record 50-32-1 all-time as a head coach on the collegiate level. So far this season, Ortiz' Sun Devils are 9-6 overall and 4-0 in the Pac-10, giving him an overall record of 52-32-1 and a 29-2-0 mark in the conference.

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 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, Jeremy Mendoza earned the honor as he pinned both of his opponents in team victories over Oregon State and Oregon at home. In the first dual, Mendoza gave up an early takedown before rallying to a 6-2 lead in the third period. Then, with 46 seconds remaining, Mendoza pinned Eric Stevenson for victory. On Sunday, Mendoza was again trailing, this time to a very aggressive Beam Malia, before scoring the tying takedown with one minute remaining in the second period. Seven seconds later, Mendoza was award the fall.

With a 20-3 record so far this season, Ryan Bader has improved his career record to 108-37, giving him the 13th-most in school history. Bader should compete in three bouts this weekend and, if he wins all three bouts, would move past current assistant coach Aaron Simpson for the No. 12 position on the list. Simpson finished his career with 110 victories. Bader also is closing in on his two other coaches, needing 10 more victories to tie head coach Thom Ortiz for eighth all-time and needing 15 total victories to tie for sixth place with assistant coach Eric Larkin.

Ryan Bader's career victory total is not the only number to watch. Bader, Jeremy Mendoza and Cain Velasquez also are in the hunt for placements on other record boards. Bader currently has 50 career dual wins and ranks 11th all-time. A sweep this weekend would give him the eighth most with Aaron Simpson. Mendoza also is chasing the dual wins ledger as his 40 are good enough for 21st right now. A sweep this weekend would move him to 19th. With six duals remaining this year, Mendoza is three wins away from the No. 20 spot on the season duals wins list with 14 while Bader (13) and Velasquez (11) are right behind him. The trio also is chasing the single-season wins leaders with 35 tying for 18th all-time. To date, Mendoza has 26, Velasquez 24 and Bader 20.

Two weeks ago, the Sun Devils earned coach Thom Ortiz his 50th career victory by taking down No. 9 Missouri for seventh place at the National Duals. This past weekend, two individuals accomplished milestone victories as well. Brian Stith scored a 6-0 decision over No. 16 Tony Hook of Oregon State Friday night to record the 75th victory of his career. Two nights later, Ryan Bader secured the 50th dual victory of his stellar career when he defeated Shaun Dee of Oregon, 6-1.

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 77-13 overall record. Jeremy Mendoza leads the way with a 26-2 mark while Cain Velasquez stands 24-5. Ryan Bader is 20-3 with C.B. Dollaway, who just returned to the starting line up two weeks ago, is 7-3.

So far this season, four Sun Devils have won 19 or matches and absorbed no more than five losses. Those wrestlers are Jeremy Mendoza at 125 (26-2), Brian Stith at 157 (19-2), Ryan Bader at 197 (20-3) and Cain Velasquez at heavyweight (24-5).

The Mustangs enter the season ranked No. 20 in the national polls with an overall record of 7-4 and a Pac-10 mark of 4-1. Head Coach John Azevedo has four wrestlers ranked among the Top 20 nationally, including No. 4 Darrell Vasquez at 133. The Mustangs enter the dual on a two-match losing streak following identical 36-8 losses at No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 8 Oklahoma.

Arizona State leads the all-time series, 29-7-0, after winning 33-9 last year in Tempe. The last time Cal Poly defeated the Sun Devils was January 14, 1986, with a 34-15 decision in a dual contested in Fullerton, Calif.

Six different bouts will pit two foes ranked in the Pac-10 Top 6 rankings, including three bouts featuring a pair of wrestlers ranked in the Top 3. No. 1 Jeremy Mendoza and No. 2 Chad Mendes will meet at 125 before No. 1 Pat Payne and No. 3 Jeff Owens meet at 149. The final Top 3 meeting comes at 184 where No. 2 C.B. Dollaway faces No. 3 Ryan Halsey.

T.J. Kerr's Roadrunners enter the dual with a 3-4 record and stand 2-2 in the Pac-10 following a 20-19 defeat of UC Davis at home. CSUB, which travels to Oregon and Oregon State Friday, have three wrestlers ranked nationally, led by No. 15 Tommy Vargas at 133.

Arizona State leads the all-time series, 18-7-1, and has won the last two duals, including a 20-19 decision one year ago. The last Roadrunner victory was a 20-17 decision inside the Icardo Center during the 2004 season.

Two Top 3 bouts are on the slate when the Sun Devils and Roadrunners meet Sunday. No. 1 Pat Payne and No. 2 Anthony Baza will meet at 149 while the heavyweight bout will see No. 1 Cain Velasquez meet No. 3 Eric Parker.

Coach Dan Hicks' Titans enter the dual with a 3-10 overall record and stand 0-6 in Pac-10 duals this season. Despite starting 0-6 this season, CSUF has won three of its last seven, including a 28-18 win at Fresno State Wednesday night.

Arizona State and CS Fullerton have met on the mats 14 times with the Sun Devils winning all 14, including a 31-14 decision in Tempe last season.

A pair of Top 5 bouts are scheduled this weekend when Arizona State and CS Fullerton meet. No. 1 Brian Stith will face No. 5 Shawn Reilly at 157 pounds before No. 2 C.B. Dollaway and No. 5 Jesse Taylor meet in the 184 contest.

Stanford, the host of the 2006 Pac-10 Championships, released updated rankings for the conference January 24 with eight Sun Devils holding positions in the Top 6 and the team staying put at No. 1. Jeremy Mendoza (125) Pat Payne (149), Brian Stith (157), Ryan Bader (197) and Cain Velasquez (285) are each ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes while Patrick Pitsch (165) and C.B. Dollaway (184) each sit second. Alex Pavlenko (174) made his debut in the rankings this week, coming in at No. 6.

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.

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, 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.

Following its whirl-wind tour of California this weekend, Arizona State will face only one foe next weekend when it travels to Norman, Okla., to face the No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. CST.

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