Wrestling Wraps Up Home Slate Sunday with Cal Poly
Feb. 8, 2007
TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University wrestling team (6-11, 3-2 Pac-10) will play host to Cal Poly (5-8, 4-3 Pac-10) at 2 p.m. Sunday as the Sun Devils and Mustangs meet inside Wells Fargo Arena for ASU's final home dual of the season. With the Pac-10 Championships just two weeks away, the dual could certainly play a role in the seedings of each weight class at the 2007 tournament in Bakersfield, Calif. (Feb. 24-25).
The dual with Cal Poly will not only mark the home finale for the Sun Devils this season, it also will mark the final home competition for four seniors. Prior to the dual, the Sun Devil coaching staff will honor seniors John Espinoza (125), Brian Stith (157), Kevin Gaughan (165) and Greg Gifford (184). For Espinoza and Stith, the dual will mark the completion of five years with the program while Gaughan has been with the Sun Devils for three years after transferring from James Madison University. Gifford will be completing his first and only season with the program after transferring in this summer following Fresno State's program being cut.
If the Sun Devils defeat the Mustangs Sunday afternoon, it will mark the 200th home win in program history. Arizona State won its 199th home dual on January 19 with a 19-18 defeat of Cal State Bakersfield. The previous milestone marker, win No. 175, came on January 9, 2003, when the Sun Devils handed Embry-Riddle a 46-0 defeat inside Wells Fargo Arena.
HAPPY TO UPSET
After having not competed for two weeks, Patrick Pitsch stepped onto the mat last Friday night and faced the No. 11 wrestler in the nation, Shane Seibert. In a close bout, Pitsch scored a late takedown and three near fall points on Seibert to take a 9-4 upset victory over his nationally ranked foe. This week, Pitsch moved back into the national rankings at No. 15.
MOVING ON UP
Brian Stith has moved up on two career wins lists in Arizona State history, including overall wins and dual wins, and will look to climb higher this weekend. Standing 107-31 overall in his collegiate career, Stith is now tied for 14th on the all-time wins list with Matt Suter (1995-98). He also stands 53-16 all-time in dual competition, tying him the ninth-most wins with current Sun Devil assistant coach Aaron Simpson (1995-98). A win Sunday would move Stith into 14th by himself and two wins shy of tying Simpson (110) for 13th. On the duals list, a win would give Stith ninth by himself with one more pushing him into a tie with former teammate Ryan Bader (2002-06) with 55.
GIFFORD GEARING UP
Senior Greg Gifford has been on a tear as of late, winning his last five bouts in convincing fashion. Over those five duals, Gifford has pinned two opponents in under four minutes each, recorded one technical fall and posted one major decision. Last time out, Gifford scored a tough 9-6 decision over Josh Hinton of Oklahoma to improve to 11-7 overall with an 8-6 mark in dual competitions.
Although neither of the teams, Arizona State and Cal Poly, are nationally ranked in this weeks USA Today/Intermat/NWCA Top 25, several individuals are. For the Sun Devils, Brian Stith is No. 5 at 157 pounds while Patrick Pitsch is No. 15 at 165. The Mustangs have No. 6 Darrell Vasquez at 133 pounds, No. 16 Matt Monteiro at 197 pounds and No. 12 Cody Parker at heavyweight.
STITH GETS 100
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 11 wins in a row with six of his last seven coming by major decision, averaging a 14-4 score in those six major decision wins. 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.
QUICK RECAP: OKLAHOMA
The Sun Devils competed in one dual last weekend, dropping a 31-9 decision to visiting No. 13 Oklahoma Friday night. After opening the evening with a 7-3 victory by John Espinoza at 125 and 3-0 team lead, the Sooners would go on to win the next two by decision before winning forfeits at 149 and 157. Patrick Pitsch made his return to the lineup and scored a 9-4 decision over No. 11 Shane Seibert before Greg Gifford took a 9-6 victory at 184 pounds to round out the victories for the Sun Devils.
When the Sun Devils and No. 13 Sooners met, it marked the seventh ranked foe Arizona State had faced this season and just the second time the Sun Devils have faced a ranked foe in Tempe. So far this season, the Sun Devils have wrestled at No. 2 Minnesota, No. 5 Iowa, No. 6 Iowa State and No. 11 Cornell while the two home duals were against No. 13 Oklahoma and No. 23 Lehigh.
IN THE PAC-10
In the latest Pac-10 Individual Rankings that were released February 6, six Sun Devils currently hold a position in the conference's Top 6, including a trio ranked at the top of their respective weight classes. Brian Stith (157), Patrick Pitsch (165) and Greg Gifford (184) are all ranked No. 1 while Jason Trulson is ranked No. 3 at 197. John Espinoza also sits third (tie) at 125 while Pat Payne is ranked sixth at 141.
SCOUTING: CAL POLY
The Mustangs enter the weekend with a 5-8 overall record and stand 4-3 in the Pac-10. Head Coach John Azevedo's squad has three ranked wrestlers and is led by Darrell Vasquez, who carries a 22-3 overall record and a No. 6 national ranking at 133 pounds.
IN THE SERIES: CAL POLY
The Sun Devils carry a 30-7-0 all-time record in their series with the Mustangs after taking a 25-21 decision last year in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The Sun Devils have won 17 in a row in the series with their last loss coming on January 14, 1986, at Fullerton, by a 34-15 count. The last time the Mustangs visited Tempe was February 18, 2005, with the Sun Devils taking a 33-9 victory in their final dual of the year.
Although three different weight classes feature a Sun Devil and a Mustang both ranked in the Top 3 of the Pac-10 standings, only two bouts this weekend will happen. At 157 pounds, No. 1 Brian Stith will face No. 2 Chase Pami, marking the second time this season Stith will defend his top billing against the second-ranked wrestler in the conference after defeating Keegan Davis of Oregon State earlier this season. The other bout comes at 184 pounds where No. 1 Greg Gifford will take on No. 2 Yuri Kalika, who Gifford defeated, 6-2, in the consolation semifinals of the Reno Tournament of Champions. The final bout that could have taken place was at 197 pounds with No. 3 Jason Trulson facing No. 1 Matt Montiero. The Mustang will not wrestle due to injury.
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.
FACING THE BEST
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.
OPENING THE SEASON
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.
COME JOIN US: NATIONAL LETTERS OF INTENT
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.
STRONG NCAA SHOWING
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).
RETURNING PAC-10 CHAMPIONS
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.
RICHES WRESTLING COMPLEX
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.
NEXT TIME OUT
The final dual of the season awaits the Sun Devils next weekend as the team will head to Palo Alto, Calif., where they won the 2006 Pac-10 Championships. This time, they will take on Stanford in a conference dual slated for 7 p.m. Friday, February 16.
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