WRESTLING JOURNAL #10: This Week in ASU Wrestling with Aaron Simpson

Feb. 6, 2006

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2/6/06 - Final Road Dual Not One To Remember
Before we get into this week's entry, I wanted to recognize the Wrestler of the Match, Patrick Pitsch at 165. Pitsch wrestled tough and pulled out an overtime victory against another highly ranked foe. Now, on to the journal ...

Norman, Okla., reminded me a little of Norman Bates in Psycho. Yes, the dual was somewhat of a nightmare. Going into the dual, we knew we were going to be down by 12 points. We were to forfeit 125 and 141 because Jeremy Mendoza and Jason Robbins are still recovering from minor injuries. This meant it was going to take great effort to knock off the Sooners in their house. But, we thought we had a puncher's chance. A bright spot for us was the reintroduction of John Espinoza at 133. After hitting the books hard this past semester, he was cleared to compete and wrestled pretty well considering it was his first collegiate match since the California Open back in November. We are excited to see John compete at the Pac-10's at the end of the month. He wants to improve on his sixth-place finish form last year and earn a trip to the NCAA tournament.

Pat Payne stopped several shot attempts from Oklahoma's Matt Storniolo, but just did not do the correct things that it was going to take to knock off the #10 guy in the country. Pat needs more motion in his stance and needs to fire off his leg attacks. If he does this with confidence, the sky is the limit. At 157, Brian Stith dominated his guy, reeling off takedowns and near-fall points at will. He looks to be wrestling at 100% right now. My favorite quote from Brian this week was when asked about his low NCAA ranking, he said, 'I don't care when or who I wrestle. I hope I wrestle the #1 ranked guy first or second round because I will beat him.' It is that type of attitude that will win a nation title. Patrick Pitsch was another bright spot this dual, trading shots with Jarrod King before pushing the match into overtime. It was Pat who dug deep and won the match in the overtime ride-out. They were both tired, but Pat just wanted it more. We have no doubt that Pat will place high in the NCAAs come March. He may be in some close matches, but in the end, he will be the one getting his hand raised.

After Pat's match, we were feeling pretty good. We knew putting freshman Chris Remsen against their ranked wrestler was going to be tough, but we thought he would go hard. It turned out that size and experience made a huge difference. Remsen lost by a technical fall and is still trying to adjust to Division I wrestling.

Now the nightmare starts. We thought we had a shot at winning the final three matches. At 184 C.B. Dollaway looked out of sync from the moment the first whistle blew. He was not holding position and not getting his shots off. We are not sure where his mind was during the match, but he just didn't look focused. At this level, YOU HAVE TO BE FOCUSED! C.B. lost badly. He will need to rebound, learn from this loss and move on. If he wants to accomplish his goals, he will need to fully dedicate himself from this point forward. That was a hard loss to swallow, which brings up the next match. Ryan Bader, who has been wrestling pretty solid this season, wrestled a match that just got away from him. He couldn't get anything going on his feet and couldn't get anything going on the mat. He just could not get going, period. I know Bader hurt. He hates to lose. He is a competitor who just needs to realize that this is it for him. He only has several more weeks until his college wrestling career is finished. How does he want to be remembered?

Cain Velasquez looked great. He is wrestling smarter. He kept the match at his pace and stayed where he is strong. He handled the #5 ranked heavyweight with ease. Cain knows where he wants to be in the end. We are going to have him ready come nationals. It will be his job to win.

We have had some great wrestlers put on the maroon and gold in the past. Names like Culp, Urbano, St. John, Mollica and Larkin are at the top of the list. Will somebody down the line mention Bader in the same breath? Will they mention Mendoza, Dollaway or Velasquez? I know they all want to win a national title, but what are they willing to sacrifice to make it happen?

Remember ASU Wrestling fans, we will be dueling former Sun Devil Shawn Charles and his Fresno State Bulldogs this Friday, February 10 at 7:30pm at Kellis High School in Glendale and admission is FREE! We are holding it in conjunction with the Arizona High School State Wrestling Championships. Then two days later, on Sunday, we will have our final dual as the Stanford Cardinal comes to town. This dual will be our senior's final home dual of their career. This dual is also ASU Wrestling Alumni Day. We will honor all the past ASU wrestlers at the half-way point of the dual. Any former ASU wrestlers, please email me if you are going to be in attendance. We want to make sure you receive the proper recognition for paving the way! Until next time ... GO DEVILS!

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