WRESTLING JOURNAL #9: This Week in ASU Wrestling with Aaron Simpson

Jan. 30, 2006

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/30/06 - California Winnin'
This week, we selected Cain Velasquez as the Wrestler of the Week after he continued to dominate his opponents again. In three duals this past weekend, Cain pinned all three of his opponents in the first round.

Let's start by congratulating this team for going on the road and getting three solid victories in the Pac-10 Conference. We traveled to California this past weekend, beginning our journey in San Luis Obispo, the home of the Cal Poly Mustangs. From there, we traveled east to the Bakersfield for a dual, finally finishing up the road trip with a dual against Cal State Fullerton. We had several exciting matches along the way, but before I get into the matches, let me start by thanking some of our loyal Sun Devil fans making the trip with us. Once again, the Bader's, the Payne's and the Mendoza's were there in full support. We appreciate seeing them there in their maroon and gold! I would also like to thank Sun Devil Alum and loyal ASU supporter, Kevin Shaffer, for making the trip with us for the weekend. Kevin is a huge fan of anything ASU. If you know Kevin, then you also know he can be very loud and talks very fast. The guys liked his enthusiasm. He was high five-ing our guys and bumping fists with them before and after the matches. Most of them have never met him, but by the end of the trip, it was like he was a part of the team. Several guys made comments saying they wanted him to travel with us on every road trip. So, a special thanks to you, Kevin/

Now, onto the matches.

We dueled Cal Poly on Friday night. They were missing two of their starters, Chad Mendes at 125 and Matt Montiero at 197, but we did not have a 141-pounder due to injury as well. So, both being under-manned, we took to the mats hard. Jeremy Mendoza pinned his opponent in typical Mendoza fashion. Adam Hickey lost to All-American Darryl Vasquez, but put up a good fight. With a forfeit at 141, we knew that Pat Payne's match with their tough starter was a swing match. Unfortunately, Pat looked flat and ended up losing. He is still a little rusty and will need some time to find his rhythm. Brian Stith looked great and overwhelmed his opponent with his speed and flawless technique. Patrick Pitsch had the match of the night, gaining a takedown with 10 seconds remaining to go ahead by one point and ultimately winning the bout. At 174, Alex Pavlenko had a couple nice scrambling takedowns, but ended up on the losing end of a high scoring match. The 184 bout was supposed to be the highlight match of the evening with C.B. Dollaway taking on Ryan Halsey. These two have a nice history of some heated matches, but this match was a little different. One minute into the match, C.B. shot in on a double leg, but was stopped by Halsey in a front headlock. C.B. continued to advance the position, while Halsey rolled under and was caught by C.B. on his back. Halsey was still locked around C.B. as C.B. was awarded the takedown. The referee then started to count the near-fall for C.B., Halsey just hung in there with the front headlock that was now choking-out C.B. You could just see it happening. Both Coach Thom Ortiz and I rushed out on the mat as C.B.'s body went limp. We stopped the match, trying to make the ref aware of the choke. Once Halsey let go, C.B. came to and looked dazed. The referee told us he would not let the match continue until a doctor cleared C.B. to wrestle. Well, Cal Poly did not have a doctor on sight, so we had to forfeit the match. (Later that night, after the match, we all played a friendly game of Texas Hold `Em at the hotel. I happened to glance over at C.B. and caught him talking to his shoulder. It kind of weirded me out, so I called him on it. The guys all laughed and we joked he was still suffering some backlashes from his choke out. It was comical. I am still not sure what he was doing. Maybe it was some type of bluff!)

So, now we were losing the dual, 22-13. With Ryan Bader and Cain Velasquez waiting in the wings, we were pretty confident we could get two wins, but we need at least 10 points to seal the victory. They had to go after bonus points. We had been here before this year. Remember National Duals against Missouri, we needed two pins to win the dual. Well, that is exactly what happened here. Bader got a pin and Cain got a pin. GAME OVER. ASU 25, Cal Poly 22. Nice win, now time to get ready for Bakersfield.

On Saturday, we took our time driving across the desert to Bakersfield. We didn't have to compete until Sunday at noon, so there was no rush. Saturday night was spent working out and cutting weight. Our guys are pretty disciplined when it comes to weight management. As coaches, that is one less stressor we have to worry about.

We started Sunday's noon dual at 157 pounds. Stith dominated once again, starting the dual off with a bang. Pitsch continued his winning ways with some nice technique along the way. We lost at 174, but then received a pin from Dollaway at 184. C.B. was better now and wasn't talking to any imaginary friends! Bader got a good win, making it a career 110 which tied me on the all-time victories list. Not sure how I feel about that! Cain got another pin. Mendoza got a nice win at 125. Hickey was on his way to getting his first win in a while, but just came up short. He was highly disappointed, but he'll keep working hard. We forfeited 141 again. Then Payne lost a tough match at 149. Ultimately we won the dual and had to get on the road. We still had to wrestle Fullerton at 7:00 pm.

Our match against Fullerton was a good one. We knew going in we were going to be down by 12 points because of our forfeit at 141 and a forfeit at 125. Mendoza had a minor injury in his Bakersfield match and Coach Ortiz thought it would not be smart to possibly injure it anymore. With that being said, the guys had to really work for bonus points. Stith earned us a major and Pitsch won. We wrestled freshman Chris Remsen at 174 and he lost a close one. Then, Dollaway won by major decision, Bader earned a technical fall and Velasquez pinned his guy, making it his third on the weekend. The match came down to 149. All Payne had to do was not get beaten by eight points or more. Well, Pat got back to his winning ways and defeated his guy, 10-8, which sealed the win for us. In attendance was former ASU All-American (1985) Gary Barios. He lives in the Los Angeles area and works in the film industry.

I must say, this team really pulls it together when the dual is on the line. We actually have five guys that can really put people away when they get them on their backs. Velasquez leads the pin race with 11 on the season. We will need to keep things rolling as we travel to the University of Oklahoma for a dual on Friday, February 3. There should be some awesome match-ups as Mendoza will take on #2 ranked Sam Hazewinkel. Payne will wrestle #11 Matt Storniolo. Pitsch will wrestle #11 Jarrod King. Dollaway will wrestle #13 Justin Dyer. Bader will wrestle #4 Joel Flaggert and Velasquez will wrestle #5 Jake Hager. This is definitely going to be a tough, but winnable, dual for us. We have to win the close matches. A win here would be huge for the confidence of our guys heading into the Pac-10 and NCAA championship meets.

One last thing before I wrap this entry up ... Raymond S. Kellis High School in Glendale will be the site of our dual with Fresno State and their new coach, former All-American Shawn Charles, on February 10. The dual will start at 7:30 pm. Kellis HS is very close to Glendale Arena, so all the high school wrestlers at the state meet and their family and friends can take a break and come watch two of the top West Coast teams compete.

Type to you next week and GO DEVILS!

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