Wrestling Hosts CS Bakersfield, Travels to No. 13 Cornell

Jan. 17, 2007

Match Notes (pdf) | Roster | Schedule/Results

TEMPE, Ariz. - Coming off a 2-2 showing at the Virginia Duals over the weekend, the Arizona State University wrestling team (4-8 overall, 1-1 Pac-10) returns home for one dual before returning to the East Coast for one dual this weekend. The Sun Devils will play host to conference rival Cal State Bakersfield (3-2, 1-1 Pac-10) at 7 p.m. Friday night in Tempe before trekking to Ithaca, N.Y., for a 1 p.m. showdown with No. 13 Cornell on Sunday afternoon.

Last weekend, the Sun Devils traveled 2,314 miles to Hampton, Va., for the Virginia Duals before returning the same mileage back to Tempe. This weekend, following their dual with CS Bakersfield, the Sun Devils will log another 2,329 miles each way when they head to Ithaca, N.Y., for their dual with Cornell. In two weekends, the Sun Devils will have logged 9,286 duals while competing in five duals.

Brian Stith pinned Beau Fisher of Virginia in 1:18 of the Sun Devils' opening dual at the Virginia Duals on January 12 to record the 100th victory of his career, becoming just the 22nd Sun Devil to reach the milestone in a career and first since Ryan Bader did so last year. Stith, who is a native of Hampton, Va., the site of the Virginia Duals, closed out his stay in his hometown with three wins by major decision to raise his season record to 15-2 while moving to 103-31 in his career. His career win total ties him for the 18th-most in school history with Rod Severn (1985-88), Shawn Charles (1990-93) and David Douglas (1999-02).

When the Sun Devils competed at the Virginia Duals over the weekend, it marked the second time Brian Stith competed in front of his hometown as the native of Hampton, Va., competed at the Duals as a freshman in 2004 before competing this weekend. In all, Stith went 6-2 in his eight 'home' duals.

After easing winning all four of his duals in Hampton, Va., over the weekend, Brian Stith brought his career dual meet record to 49-16, the 12th-most dual victories in school history, tying himself with Jim Gressley (1984-89) and Adam Cohen (1981-86). The two-time All-American and 2006 NCAA runner-up passed current assistant coach Eric Larkin's 48 career wins and has seven more duals this season in which he could climb higher on the list. If he wins all seven duals, Stith would tie Casey Strand (1995-99) for seventh on the all-time list, falling one win shy of tying head coach Thom Ortiz while passing assistant coach Aaron Simpson (1995-98), who recorded 53 wins.

With their 31-16 defeat of Liberty in the consolation rounds of the Virginia Duals on January 13, the Sun Devils recorded the 450th win in program history. After taking an early 3-0 lead with John Espinoza's win at 125 pounds before dropping three straight bouts to fall behind, 10-3. Brian Stith cut the deficit to three points with his major decision win at 157, but a fall at 165 put the Sun Devils behind, 16-7. From there, however, the Sun Devils pinned down the win as Alex Pavelnko (174), Greg Gifford (184) and Jason Trulson (197) earned falls before Thor Moen won the heavyweight bout by forfeit to close out the scoring, 31-16.

Jason Trulson (197) recorded the final fall of the Liberty dual in fast fashion as he pinned Josh Moore in 15 seconds. His fall is the fastest since the 2003 season when Ron Renzi won a 174-pound bout at the Las Vegas Invitational in a school-record-tying seven seconds.

The Sun Devils are not ranked in the national polls this week. One of their opponents, Cornell, is currently ranked, sitting at No. 13 in the January 9 USA Today/InterMat/NWCA National Top 25.

According to the latest NWCA national rankings, only one Sun Devil holds a national ranking this week and that is Brian Stith, who is ranked sixth at 157 pounds.

In the latest Pac-10 Individual Rankings that were released January 16, six Sun Devils remain in the Top 6, including Brian Stith (157) and Patrick Pitsch (165) who both are ranked No. 1. Also in the rankings this week are No. 2 Greg Gifford (184), No. 4 Jason Trulson (197), No. 5 Pat Payne (141) and No. 6 John Espinoza (125).

Arizona State went 2-2 at the Virginia Duals as the fifth-seeded team in the National division of the tournament held in Hampton, Va. The Sun Devils opened the tournament with a 21-19 defeat of Virginia in the first round before falling to fourth-seeded Rider, 23-13, in the quarterfinals. ASU rebounded with a 31-16 defeat of Liberty in the consolation bracket before falling to eighth-seeded Bloomsburg, 23-13, in its final dual of the weekend.

Friday night's dual between Arizona State and CS Bakersfield could feature four bouts between two wrestlers ranked in the Pac-10 Top 6 Individual Rankings (as of Jan. 16). The 165 bout will feature No. 1 Patrick Pitsch against No. 2 Daniel Atondo while the 197 bout will feature No. 4 Jason Trulson against No. 2 Brandon Halsey. Two other potential match-ups include the 141 bout between No. 5 Pat Payne and No. 4 Matt Schumm and the 157 pound bout featuring No. 1 Brian Stith against No. 6 Jeremy Doyle.

The Roadrunners enter the weekend with a 3-2 overall record and stand 1-1 in the Pac-10 after defeating Oregon, 29-6, and falling to Boise State, 21-18. Head Coach T.J. Kerr's team is led by Matt Schumm, who carries a 24-7 record into the dual at 141 pounds.

The Sun Devils hold a 19-7-0 advantage in the all-time series with the Roadrunners and have won the last two duals in the series, including a 25-15 decision in Bakersfield one year ago and a 20-19 victory in Tempe during the 2004-05 season.

The Big Red enter the weekend with a 1-4 record after posting a 1-2 mark at the NWCA National Duals last weekend. Ranked No. 13 in the Jan. 9 NWCA rankings, head coach Rob Koll's team has six wrestlers ranked on the national lists, including five in the Top 10. The team is led by Troy Nickerson, who is ranked third in the nation at 125 pounds.

The Sun Devils lead the all-time series, 1-0-0, after taking the only meeting with a 27-12 decision at the 2000 NWCA National Duals in State College, Pa.

ASU needs just two more home victories to reach 200 in the history of the program. Arizona State won the 175th home dual on Jan. 5, 2003, when they defeated Embry-Riddle, 46-0, with the 150th victory coming on Jan. 9, 1997, in a 19-16 defeat of visiting Iowa State. Following their dual with CS Bakersfield this weekend, the Sun Devils will have two more home duals this year, including a Feb. 2 meeting with No. 7 Oklahoma before the home finale on Feb. 11 with Cal Poly.

Arizona State had won 17 Pac-10 duals in a row (went 8-0-0 over the previous two seasons) and where unbeaten in conference duals at 29 in a row (28-0-1) before sustaining a 30-14 loss at home to CS Fullerton over the weekend. The loss to the Titans also snapped a 15-dual winning streak over CSUF. The last time ASU did not win at home against a Pac-10 foe came during the 1998-99 season when ASU and CS Bakersfield fought to an 18-18 tie in Tempe. The last home loss in conference action came during the 1996-97 campaign when CSUB defeated ASU, 21-18. Overall in his coaching career, Thom Ortiz is 34-3-0 in duals with Pac-10 foes.

Looking at the preseason team rankings released by the NWCA and InterMat, the Sun Devils will face at least seven of the teams ranked in the Top 25, including five of the Top 9 teams in the nation. Those teams include No. 1 Minnesota, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Iowa, No. 6 Iowa State, No. 9 Cornell, No. 20 Cal Poly and No. 21 Lehigh. The Sun Devils will meet Oklahoma, Cal Poly and Lehigh at home with the others taking place on the road.

With their 38-12 defeat of Portland State, ASU improved to 31-14 in their first home dual of the season and moved to 32-13 all-time in the first dual of the season.

Seven different wrestlers picked up their first wins in a Sun Devil singlet over the opening weekend, including two true freshmen, three redshirt freshmen and two transfers. Greg Gifford, who spent the past three seasons with Fresno State before the program was cut, went 2-0 on the weekend for his first wins with the program and also picked up the 70th win of his collegiate career. Another transfer, Chris Remsen, also secured the first wins of his career, going 2-0 on the weekend at 149 after dropping all four of his bouts at 174 last year. The NC State transfer is now 2-4 on his career. True freshmen Shawn Jones and Angel Alegre each won one bout at 133 for victories in their first collegiate bouts while redshirted athletes Robert Galvan (141), Jake Cranford (197) and Thor Moen (285) made the most of their first bouts following a season off from competition with victories in their debuts. Following the Fullerton Open, Jonathan Prince, a sophomore transfer, added his name.

After redshirting last year, Thor Moen got his first opportunity to compete for the Sun Devils Sunday, but did not spend much time on the mat as he pinned his foe in 3:56. Moen was one of two Sun Devils that recorded the first pin falls of their collegiate careers as Jason Trulson also won by fall, pinning his opponent in 1:40.

After opening his senior campaign with a 2-0 record, No. 1 Brian Stith headed to the 41st NWCA All-Star Classic presented by the United States Marines Corps in Dallas. In a bout that featured No. 1 Stith and No. 2 Travis Paulson of Iowa State, neither man scored in the first period with Stith winning the flip and deferring. Paulson started the second period down and quickly escaped for the only scoring in the period. Stith, however, could not escape quickly and when he did to tie the match, Paulson had accumulated over one minute of riding time to secure the win, 2-1.

With Stith's 2-1 setback in Dallas this week at the All-Star Classic, the Sun Devils are now 10-12-1 all-time as 23 different wrestlers have competed in the event.

Head Coach Thom Ortiz and the Sun Devil wrestling program have received National Letters of Intent from three high school seniors that have chosen to continue their education and wrestling careers at Arizona State next academic year. The trio of signees include Vincent Varela (Rio Rancho, N.M.), Kyle DeBerry (Tucson, Ariz.) and Jesse Robbins (Oviedo, Fla.) with all three ranked in the Top 150 according to InterMat's Recruiting Rankings with Varela ranked No. 18, DeBerry No. 45 and Robbins No. 101. Varela is a three-time state champ and ranked second in the nation at 135 pounds, DeBerry is a three-time state champion and ranked third in the nation at 160 while Robbins is a two-time Greco-Roman national champion and ranked fifth nationally at 171.

Arizona State sent five of its wrestlers to the finals of the 2006 Pac-10 Championships with Patrick Pitsch (165), Ryan Bader (197) and Cain Velasquez (285) winning individual crowns to help the Sun Devils secure their second Pac-10 team title in a row and the 16th in program history following the tournament held at Stanford. The crown gave the Sun Devils their first back-to-back championships since winning the 1997 and 1998 titles. This year's team will look to secure its third crown in a row, marking the first time the program won more than two in a row since Bobby Douglas' squads won seven in a row between 1985-91.

For the fourth time in the five years Thom Ortiz has been the head coach, the Sun Devils placed in the Top 15 at the NCAA Championships as his squad placed sixth one year ago in Oklahoma City. Four All-Americans helped the maroon and gold to their second-highest finish under Ortiz (fifth in 2003) with Brian Stith leading the charge as the national runner-up at 157. He was joined by Cain Velasquez (4th at HWT), C.B. Dollaway (5th at 184) and Ryan Bader (7th at 197) on the podium at the end of the meet to help ASU accumulate 61.5 points, just one-half of one point from a fifth-place tie with Cornell (62.0) and 8.5 points from fourth-place Iowa (70.0) and a team trophy.

Brian Stith is the lone returning All-American for the Sun Devils having secured the national honor each of the last two seasons. His first honor came in 2005 when he placed sixth in the nation before finishing as the runner-up last year after entering the tournament as the No. 10 seed. An All-America accolade for Stith this season would make him the 13th Sun Devil to earn three honors in a career and the first since Eric Larkin earned four All-America honors (1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003).

A pair of middle-weights return this season with hopes of collecting their second individual Pac-10 crown. Brian Stith won his first crown in 2005 when he upset defending conference and NCAA champion Matt Gentry of Stanford in the 157 final before earning his first All-America honor. Stith placed second last year, falling to Ben Cherrington of Boise State. The second returning champion is Patrick Pitsch, who captured the 165 title last year as the tournament's three-seed. Pitsch went on to fall one victory short of All-America honors at the national championships and will look for his first national award this year.

Wells Fargo Arena serves as the home of Arizona State's home wrestling duals, as well as basketball (men and women), gymnastics and volleyball. Opened in the spring of 1974, the 14,198-seat arena has been the home venue of some of the Sun Devil greats with all 16 Pac-10 team titles and one of the two Western Athletic Conference crowns attained by ASU. Since its opening, 56 Sun Devils have captured 106 individual conference titles while 67 different athletes have earned a total of 98 All-America honors.

Since becoming a varsity program in 1962, Arizona State has competed in the NCAA Championships all 43 years and scored at least one point in 38 of those tournaments, including each of the last 31 in a row. During this time, the Sun Devils have had 60 different student-athletes secure a combined total of 102 All-America honors while helping the team place in the Top 10 on 18 occasions and in the Top 5 seven times, including a NCAA title in 1988 and runner-up finishes in both 1989 and 1990.

Since 1928, the NCAA has conducted a wrestling championship with 11 different schools claiming the crown. In 1988, Arizona State won the title and still is the only Western team to have done so in the history of the event. Based on geographical location, when removing ASU from the list, the most western team to win a title would be Oklahoma, who has won seven. The schools that have won crowns include Oklahoma State (33), Iowa (20), Iowa State (8), Oklahoma (7), Minnesota (2) and the following schools with one each: Arizona State, Cornell College (of Iowa), Indiana, Michigan State, Northern Iowa and Penn State.

On Saturday, January 7, 2006, 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.

The Sun Devils hit the road next weekend for a pair of Pac-10 duals in the Pacific Northwest as they are set to face the Oregon schools. The Sun Devils Oregon State Beavers will meet in Corvallis for a 7 p.m. Friday evening before ASU closes out the weekend with a 2 p.m. dual in Eugene with the Oregon Ducks.

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