Five ASU Wrestlers Head to St. Louis for NCAA Tourney

March 18, 2008

Sun Devil Mat Notes (pdf)

TEMPE, Ariz. - Five members of the Arizona State University wrestling program will head to the 2008 NCAA Wrestling Championships inside the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., this week as each will look to earn All-America honors and national championships. The tournament begins Thursday morning and runs through Saturday. Anthony Robles (125), Chris Drouin (141), Patrick Pitsch (165), Brent Chriswell (184) and Jason Trulson (197) all will compete for the Sun Devils.

While the five men head to St. Louis for their shots at national titles, one of their teammates has already accomplished that feat as Kelsey Campbell won the 2008 U.S. Women's Collegiate Wrestling National Championships over the weekend in Oklahoma City. The Sun Devil junior was the top-seed at 130 pounds (59kg) and easily moved through the bracket to claim her second national title in a row (she won the 63kg class last year). Campbell pinned her first foe in 31 seconds before winning 2-0, 3-0 in the semifinals and 2-0, 4-0 in the final.

The five Sun Devils will look to capture individual national championships, which was last done by current assistant coach Eric Larkin (149 pounds) in 2004. All wrestlers that advance to compete on Saturday will be assured of placing in the Top 8 at the tournament which also will give those wrestlers All-America honors.

The Pac-10 Championships are used as a qualifying tournament for the NCAA Championships with all five Sun Devils placing in the Top 3 to earn an automatic berth. All five advanced to the finals of their respective weight classes with Patrick Pitsch (165) and Brent Chriswell (184) each winning titles while Anthony Robles (125), Chris Drouin (141) and Jason Trulson (197) each taking runner-up placements.

The brackets for the 2008 NCAA Wrestling Championships were released on Monday and here is who the Sun Devils will face:
• At 125 pounds, Anthony Robles will face Columbia's Brandon Kinney with the winner meeting top-seed Angel Escobedo of Indiana. Robles has not faced either wrestler yet this year.
• At 141 pounds, Chris Drouin will face ninth-seeded Nick Gallick of Iowa State, who defeated Drouin, 3-0, earlier this year in a home dual. • At 165 pounds, Patrick Pitsch will face Jake Donar of Wisconsin. The two have not faced each other in Pitsch's four years of collegiate competition.
• At 184 pounds, Brent Chriswell has a bye and could have an interesting opening bout as he will face the winner of Manuel Schubert of Lehigh and A.J. Kissel of Purdue. Chriswell is in his first year at ASU after transferring from Purdue.
• At 197 pounds, Jason Trulson will have a bye into the second round where he will face third-seeded Mike Tamillow of Northwestern. The duo have not faced each other in Trulson's four collegiate years of competition.

Last year, the Sun Devils did not record an All-American placement, ending a streak of 32 years in a row with at least one All-American. All five Sun Devils hope to start a new streak this year, including Patrick Pitsch, who will has been bounced from the national tournament each of the past two years needing just one more victory to earn All-America status.

Fans can follow all the action and updated brackets on

The Sun Devils placed fourth as a team at the 2008 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships in Eugene, Ore., with five Sun Devils advancing to the finals and eight total wrestlers placing in the tournament. Arizona State scored 103 points with Boise State winning with 152.5 points. The Sun Devils were close to a second-place finish as Stanford scored 106.5 points and Oregon State scored 106. Along with champions Patrick Pitsch (165) and Brent Chriswell (184), runner-up finishes went to Anthony Robles (125), Chris Drouin (141) and Jason Trulson (197). The remaining placements included fifth place by Quinton Pruett (285) and eighth-place showings from Todd Schavrien (133) and Orlando Jimenez (149).

Patrick Pitsch earned the top seed in the tournament at 165 pounds and entered the event as the two-time defending champion. When the senior Sun Devil left, he earned his third title in a row. Unranked in the national polls, Pitsch closed out the tournament in the finals with a 6-4, come-from-behind victory over second-seeded and 17th-ranked Kurt Swartz of Boise State to claim gold for the third time.

Weight classes were reorganized by the NCAA in time for the start of the 1998-99 season and in the past nine tournaments held with the new weight classes, two Sun Devils have won the 165-pound weight class twice, including Steve Blackford (2000 and 2001) and Patrick Pitsch (2006 and 2007). With his win this year, Pitsch became the first three-time winner at 165 pounds and just the third three-time champion in the nine lower weight classes (heavyweight has not changed). The other two wrestlers to do so were Scott Jorgenson of Boise State at 133 pounds and ASU's Ryan Bader at 197.

While three rookies made the finals of their respective weight classes for the Sun Devils, only one was victorious and that was Brent Chriswell at 184 pounds. The third-seed and 18th-ranked wrestler in the tournament, Chriswell won his first bout, 5-2, before facing second-seed and 10th-ranked Ian Murphy (CS Fullerton), who he defeated, 5-1. In the finals, Chriswell battled fellow rookie, top-seeded and eighth-ranked Kirk Smith of Boise State, who he downed, 10-7.

As the sixth-seed in the Pac-10 Championships, redshirt freshman Chris Drouin put together a solid run in his first conference event, upsetting third-seeded Elijah Nacita of CS Bakersfield before defeating seventh-seeded Nexi Delgado of UC Davis. Drouin then gave undefeated and national No. 1 Chad Mendes of Cal Poly all he could handle, falling to the top-seed, 6-4, in the final.

According to the Pre-NCAA (March 12) InterMat/NWCA national rankings, four Sun Devils will head into the national tournament ranked among the Top 20 in their respective weight classes, including Brent Chriswell, who climbed all the way to No. 9 this week after defeating No. 10 Ian Murphy and No. 8 Kirk Smith at the Pac-10 Championships. Also ranked heading into the tournament are No. 14 Anthony Robles at 125, No. 15 Patrick Pitsch at 165 and No. 18 Jason Trulson at 197.

Arizona State's rookies, Anthony Robles (125) and Brent Chriswell (184), are highly ranked this week with both being one of three rookies in their weight classes among the Top 20. Chriswell is the highest ranked freshman at 184 at No. 9 with Kirk Smith of Boise State No. 10 and Chris Honeycutt of Edinboro No. 19. At 125, Robles is the second-highest ranked freshman at No. 14 while James Nicholson of Old Dominion leads the way at No. 10.

All five Sun Devils in the NCAA Championships have faced several of the other competitors in the meet with three of those Sun Devils holding winning records against those foes. Anthony Robles is 8-6 this year against national qualifiers at 125 pounds while Patrick Pitsch (7-5 at 165) and Brent Chriswell (6-5 at 184) also have above .500 marks. Jason Trulson is 3-4 against entries at 197 while Chris Drouin is 2-7 against the field of competitors at 141.

Overall this season, 13 rookies have made their debuts and have accounted for 93 of the teams 165 victories, including 54-of-84 dual wins and 27-of-37 Pac-10 wins. The freshmen have won 16 (of 23) major decisions, six (of six) technical falls, 16 (of 26) falls and nine (of 16) forfeit victories.

So far this season, Anthony Robles is 21-9. Of his 21 victories, 16 have produced bonus points, including six major decisions, five technical falls and four falls, all team-highs, as well as one win by forfeit. For the year, he has earned 79 bonus points, the most on the team, with fellow rookie Todd Schavrien second on the list with 43 bonus points.

Earlier this season, at the Reno Tournament of Champions, Patrick Pitsch (165) scored the 75th victory of his career with an 11-4 defeat of Daniel Atondo (CS Bakersfield). Jason Trulson (197) went 2-0 against the Oregon schools with his second win, a 3-0 decision over Shaun Dee of Oregon, giving him 50 career victories. Rick Renzi (174) is four wins away from his 25th career victory.

Since Thom Ortiz took over the program in time for the 2001-02 season, ASU has built a 40-8-0 record against Pac-10 foes, including an 18-6 record on the road and 22-2 in Tempe.

The Sun Devils have combined to win 165 bouts this year with 71 of those victories producing bonus points. Of the 71 bonus point victories, Arizona State has won 26 by fall, 23 by major decision, six by technical fall and added 14 forfeit victories and two injury defaults.

Of those 26 wins by pin-fall, only 13 have come outside of the first period this year. Brent Chriswell (184) has recorded the fastest fall of the year as he pinned UC Davis' Jon Clark in just 33 seconds of his first match with the Sun Devils and added a fall time of 1:02 over Zach Geisen of Stanford last weekend in the final dual of the season. At the Keystone Classic, Arizona State recorded four wins by fall, including three in the first two minutes of a bout. Anthony Robles added another quick fall at Oklahoma, pinning Joey Fio in 1:22.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Kenny Lester turned in one of the latest falls of the season this year as he pinned Cal Poly's Jim Powers at 6:58 of the heavyweight bout, or two seconds before the end of the bout. Lester was leading the match on points and was set for the win, but a late takedown gave the Sun Devil big-man a chance for the pin, which he took.

For the fourth time since it began hosting the Sun Devil Duals in 1999 (eight Duals), Arizona State walked away with a 3-0 record on the day as it scored wins of 22-13 over Army, 42-10 over Grand Canyon and 21-17 over No. 23 Penn. The Sun Devils previously swept the Duals in 2005, 2004 and 2001. The 2004 edition, like this year's, included an upset of a ranked foe (defeated No. 2 Iowa State, 22-20) as well as a win over another Arizona school (24-17 over Embry-Riddle). Since the first Sun Devil Duals, ASU holds a 17-6 all-time record.

Arizona State faced a pair of foes for the first time over the weekend and walked away with victories, including wins of 22-13 over Army and 42-10 over Grand Canyon. The win over GCU, an Arizona school based in Phoenix, improved the Sun Devils' all-time record against Copper Canyon State teams to 54-9-0.

Three upsets took place at the Sun Devil Duals, including two individual victories and one team win for Arizona State. In the first dual of the day against Army, No. 19 Anthony Robles used his quickness to build an early lead before winning his bout at 125-pounds in a 15-4 major decision over No. 16 Fernando Martinez. In the third dual of the day, No. 18 Brent Chriswell, who had not wrestled since the finals of the Keystone Classic on November 17 -- a 7-3 loss to No. 17 Lior Zamir of Penn -- stepped onto the mat to face Zamir again, this time ranked No. 13. In a tough battle, the Sun Devil freshman picked up a reversal to open the third period and held on for a 2-1 victory. Chriswell's victory also helped the team knock-off the No. 23 Quakers, 21-17.

The win for Anthony Robles was his second upset victory of the season as he also defeated then-No. 8 Javier Maldanado of UT Chattanooga in the semifinals of the Keystone Classic in Philadelphia... Brent Chriswell's upset of No. 13 Lior Zamir not only exacted a measure of revenge for an earlier loss this season (his only loss so far this year), but is also marked the second time Chriswell has downed the No. 13-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds after also knocking off then-No. 13 Doug Umbehauer of Rider at the Keystone Classic.

Over the past several weeks, the Sun Devil wrestling team has been getting out in the community more and working with local children. On November 22, the day before Thanksgiving, the Sun Devils visited the Crossroad Youth Intervention Center in Phoenix where they interacted with the children while handing out dinner and dessert. On November 27, the wrestlers headed over to the UMOM New Day Center in Phoenix where they read to numerous children from the community.

This year, the Sun Devils have a first on their roster as Kelsey Campbell is the first woman to join the Arizona State program. A transfer from Pacific (Ore.), Campbell comes to Tempe after competing for the Boxers during the 2005-06 season and then representing the ASU Women's Club Team last year. During the 2006-07 season, Campbell competed in her first National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Championships and won the 63kg (138.5) national title as an unseeded competitor. In the event, she knocked off the No. 4, No. 1 and then No. 2 seeds on her way to her first tournament title.

Kelsey Campbell is currently ranked on a pair of national women's lists, including No. 2 at 59kg in the Collegiate Women's Wrestling Association rankings. She also is ranked No. 5 in's U.S. Senior Women's Rankings (January 2008).

Seniors Patrick Pitsch, Rick Renzi and Jason Trulson and junior Quinton Pruett have been selected as the team's captains for the year.

Since becoming a varsity program in 1962, Arizona State has competed in the NCAA Championships all 45 years and scored at least one point in 40 of those tournaments, including each of the last 33 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.

Over the summer, former Sun Devil Jeff Funicello competed in a trio of World Championship events in Antalya, Turkey, and brought home a bronze medal for the USA in beach wrestling at the 2007 FILA World Championships. Funicello also became the first Sun Devil to compete on the world stage in two newer events, including Sombo (seventh place) and grappling (did not place). His bronze medal is just the fourth World medal earned by a Sun Devil, following a gold (1991) and bronze (1995) by Zeke Jones and silver (1989) by Gary Bohay (Canada) in freestyle wrestling.

Wells Fargo Arena serves as the home of Arizona State's home wrestling duals, as well as basketball (men and women), women's gymnastics and women's 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, 57 Sun Devils have captured 109 individual conference titles while 67 different athletes have earned a total of 98 All-America honors. The Sun Devils stand 167-54-2 all-time inside Wells Fargo Arena (205-88-2 all-time at home). With its 36-3 defeat of Utah Valley on Jan. 10, 2005, ASU recorded its 150th victory at WFA.

The NCAA Wrestling Championships concludes the 2007-08 collegiate season.

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