Pac-10 Road Duals Await ASU Wrestling in Oregon

Jan. 24, 2007

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TEMPE, Ariz. - Following its second weekend in a row with a split of its duals, the Arizona State University wrestling team (5-9, 2-1 Pac-10) will look to continue its dominance of the Pac-10 Conference as it heads to the Pacific Northwest this weekend for a pair of duals. The Sun Devils will open the weekend with a 7 p.m. showdown with the No. 19 Oregon State Beavers (11-1, 3-0 Pac-10) in Corvallis, before closing out the weekend swing with a 2 p.m. dual in Eugene with the Oregon Ducks (3-5, 1-3 Pac-10).

Following a 2-0 record over the weekend, Brian Stith has moved up on two career wins lists in Arizona State history, including overall wins and dual wins. With his 13-1 major decision over Drake Hovis of Cornell on Sunday, Stith improved to 105-31 in his career and 51-16 in duals while also moving to 17-2 on the year and 11-2 in duals. All told, Stith now is tied for 11th on the all-time dual victory list at ASU with Rod Severn (1983-88) while sitting in a tie for 15th on the career victories list with Eddie Urbano (1982-85). If Stith can sweep his foes in Oregon this weekend, he will move into a tie for 14th place on the all-time wins list (107) with Matt Suter (1995-98) while tying current assistant coach Aaron Simpson (1995-98) for ninth on the duals win list (53).

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 first days of January hit, not only did it usher in a new year, it apparently ushered in an improved Brian Stith. Prior to the new year, Stith was 8-1 with only two wins by something other than decision (won two tech falls). Since a 4-3 loss on January 2 in Minnesota, Stith has recorded nine wins in a row with his last five coming by major decision, averaging a 14-4 score in those five bouts. During the streak, Stith has also added one tech fall and two falls to his win total, including pins in 1:47 and 1:18.

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.

For the second dual in a row and the sixth time this season, the Sun Devils will face a team ranked nationally according to the USA Today/Intermat/NWCA Top 25. This week, Arizona State will face No. 19 Oregon State in Corvallis.

When the Sun Devils and No. 19 Beavers meet, it will not only mark the sixth ranked foe Arizona State will have faced this season, it will also be the fifth time the Sun Devils have faced a ranked foe in their home arena. So far this season, the Sun Devils have wrestled at No. 2 Minnesota, No. 5 Iowa, No. 6 Iowa State and No. 11 Cornell. The lone exception to this was the Sun Devils' home dual with No. 23 Lehigh.

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 fifth at 157 pounds.

In the latest Pac-10 Individual Rankings that were released January 23, five Sun Devils currently hold a position in the conference's Top 6. Brian Stith and Patrick Pitsch are both ranked No. 1 in their weight classes, 157 and 165, respectively. Greg Gifford and Jason Trulson, at 184 and 197, respectively, are both ranked No. 2 in their weight classes while Pat Payne is the final ranked Sun Devils, sitting sixth at 141 pounds.

Arizona State split its weekend duals last time out, first scoring a 19-18 defeat of visiting CS Bakersfield before traveling to No. 11 Cornell where it lost, 38-4. In the weekend opener, the Sun Devils trailed 6-0 before scraping together four wins in five bouts to take a 16-11 lead. But, the Roadrunners would win two in a row to hold an 18-16 lead with one bout remaining. In the finale, Shawn Jones won a 10-3 decision to give the team a 19-18 win. The weekend came to a close with the Sun Devils falling at the Big Red with only one victory recorded on the day, a 13-1 major decision by Brian Stith at 157 in the opening bout.

Having not competed in 17 days, Shawn Jones jumped back into the line up at 133 pounds in the CS Bakersfield dual where he was given the task of winning the dual for the team. He did just that, taking a 10-3 decision to score a 19-18 decision for the team.

Looking at the latest Pac-10 rankings, three bouts in the Oregon State dual will feature a pair of ranked wrestlers meeting one another. Brian Stith, ranked No. 1 at 157 pounds, is slated to meet No. 5 Keegan Davis while No. 2 Jason Trulson (197) will take on No. 4 Travis Gardner. The third bout sees a Beaver wrestler ranked higher with No. 1 Kyle Bressler taking on ASU's No. 2 Greg Gifford.

The Beavers enter the weekend with an 11-1 overall record and stand 3-0 against Pac-10 foes. Head Coach Jim Zalesky's squad features three wrestlers ranked nationally, including No. 15 Ty Watterson (HWT), No. 18 Jeremy Larson (174) and No. 19 Kyle Larson (141).

Arizona State holds an 18-11-0 all-time record in its series with Oregon State and won the last meeting, 28-13, in Tempe last year. The Sun Devils have run off three wins in a row in the series with the last loss coming in an 18-16 decision in Corvallis during the 2002-03 season.

The Ducks enter the weekend with a 6-7 overall record and a 1-3 mark in the Pac-10. Head Coach Chuck Kearney's team is led by its lower weights where Ryan Dunn (125) and Joey Lucas (133) are both ranked third in the Pac-10.

Arizona State holds a 21-2-0 record in the all-time series with Oregon after winning a close 23-21 decision last year in Tempe. The Sun Devils have won 21 in a row after dropping the first two meetings in the series. The last loss came in a 28-10 decision in Tempe during the 1974-75 season.

ASU needs just one more home victory 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. The Sun Devils have two more home duals this year, including a Feb. 2 meeting with No. 13 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 35-3-0 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.

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.

Arizona State will have just one dual next weekend as the Sun Devils play host to No. 13 Oklahoma Friday night, February 2, at 7 p.m.

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