Wrestling Closes Out Dual Season Hosting CS Fullerton

Feb. 11, 2009

Sun Devil Mat Notes (pdf)

TEMPE - The Arizona State University wrestling team (5-7, 3-3 Pac-10) will look to halt a two-dual losing streak and end the dual season on a high note when it plays host to the Titans of CS Fullerton (10-6, 4-3 Pac-10) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon inside Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. The dual will be the final action for the Sun Devils before heading to Fullerton for the 2009 Pac-10 Championships on March 1-2.

Fans that are unable to attend the dual in person on Saturday can set their web browsers to nwcaonline.com and view the live statistics of the dual as they happen.

Former Sun Devil All-American and current rising UFC star Ryan 'Darth' Bader will be on hand before and after the dual on Saturday to meet with fans and sign autographs. Bader will be at a table on the arena floor 15 minutes before the start of the dual and for 30 minutes following the end of the dual.

Saturday's dual will be the final dual of the season for the Sun Devils with the team looking to cap the year on a high note. Historically, the Sun Devils are 33-13-0 all-time in their final dual of the season and also stand 31-15-0 all-time in their final home dual of the season. Arizona State lost last year's final dual of the season and its final home dual of the year as both coincided in a 28-16 setback to visiting Stanford.

In Sunday's dual at Oregon State, the 174 match proved to be a shocker as Eric Starks, a true freshman, scored a 4-2 upset of senior and 11th-ranked Kyle Bressler, who also was the second-ranked wrestler in the Pac-10. Starks, who had lost his previous four matches against Top 20 wrestlers this season, shot in and scored a takedown six seconds into the match and built over two minutes of riding time before Bressler escaped to make it 2-1 through one. Bressler escaped to start the second and Starks did the same to start the third to make it 3-2 before Starks held on and added a point for riding time to win, 4-2.

So far this season, Chris Drouin is 11-1 in dual competitions with his lone loss coming in a 3-2 decision on the road to then-No. 7 Alex Tsirtsis of Iowa. In his 11 victories, the closest result he has had was the 11-7 decision over No. 9 Mike Thorn of Minnesota (Jan. 23). In his last match, Drouin won another major decision -- his third in a row-- to give him 10 bonus-point victories in dual competition this season. Undefeated against Pac-10 foes at 6-0, Drouin has won his last seven matches in a row currently and has been victorious in 16 of his last 18.

For the second week in a row, a Sun Devil wrestler has been selected as the Arizona State Male Athlete of the Week with Eric Starks earning this week's award along with Sarah Stevens of the track & field team. Last week, Chris Drouin was honored.

After sitting out the past two duals (vs. Minnesota and Cal Poly) because of illness, Anthony Robles made his return to the line up for the Sun Devils over the weekend on the road and picked up a pair of victories against Pac-10 foes. Robles opened the weekend with a pin of Stanford's Austin Quarles in 2:20 and ended with his 8-3 decision over Jake Gonzales of Oregon State. Robles is now 21-6 on the year with a 5-0 record in Pac-10 duals.

Three wrestlers with ties to the Sun Devil program competed at the Dave Schultz Memorial tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo., over the weekend with all three placing among the Top 4 in their weight classes, including two taking runner-up honors. Assistant Coach Brian Stith competed in the men's freestyle 66kg division and placed second, falling to Chris Bono in the final, 3-0, 0-1, 1-0 and former Sun Devil Danny Felix also finished second at 55kg after falling in the final to Makhmud Magomedov (Russia), 0-1, 3-1, 5-1. Current Sun Devil Kelsey Campbell competed in the women's 59kg division, going 3-2 and finishing fourth.

InterMat released its Division I national team and individual rankings on February 10 with both Chris Drouin (No. 6 at 141) and Anthony Robles (No. 12 at 125) remaining among the Top 12 nationally in their respective weight classes.

The NCAA released its first of three Coaches Panel rankings that will be utilized later this season to select the competitors for the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. In the initial release, Chris Drouin is ranked No. 6 at 141 while Anthony Robles is tied for 11th (with Joey Fio of Oklahoma). The rankings are based on points earned according the ranking assigned by each voter in their mock Top 33 (33 points for 1st place down to 1 point for 33rd).

The coaches at CS Fullerton (hosts for the 2009 Pac-10 Championships) have begun releasing Pac-10 individual rankings in December with Anthony Robles (125) and Chris Drouin (141) both holding the top spots in their respective weight classes. The remaining Sun Devils are ranked anywhere between No. 4 and No. 8.

Arizona State went 0-2 on its first -- and only -- Pac-10 road trip of the season, falling at Stanford, 20-19, and at Oregon State, 19-13. The Sun Devils won four matches in each dual with Anthony Robles (125), Chris Drouin (141) and Eric Starks (174) each winning in both events. At Stanford, the Sun Devils jumped out to an early 12-0 lead on Imanibom Etukeren's win by forfeit at heavyweight and Robles' win by fall at 125. Drouin won by major decision at 141 to push the lead to 16-3, but ASU lost five of the last six matches to fall. Stark's win at 174 pushed the ASU lead to 19-14, but two decision loses to close the dual gave the host the win. In Corvallis, the lead changed hands four times and the score was tied twice (7-7 and 13-13), but ASU again dropped its last two matches of the dual to fall. Starks upset No. 11 Kyle Bressler, 4-2, at 174 after Robles (decision) and Drouin (major) each won with Jake Meredith claiming the final victory at 184.

The Sun Devils, who are 3-3 so far this season in conference action, have competed in the Pac-10 Conference for 30 seasons, starting in the 1978-79 season. During that time, Arizona State has won over 85-percent (.852) of its Pac-10 duals, recording a mark of 112-19-1 against 13 different schools. Of those 13 teams, eight are still competing in the Pac-10 Conference with the Sun Devils holding a 79-19-1 record against those teams.

Since Thom Ortiz took over coaching duties in time for the 2001-02 season, the Sun Devils have been very impressive at home, posting an overall mark of 42-21-0. Ortiz' teams also have been nearly perfect against Pac-10 foes as the Sun Devils stand 26-4-0 against league opponents after going 1-2 last year. ASU is 4-3 overall at home this year and 3-1 against Pac-10 foes.

Arizona State holds a 44-10-0 record against Pac-10 foes since Thom Ortiz took over the program eight years ago, including a 26-4-0 home record and an 18-6-0 road mark after opening the conference slate with home wins over UC Davis and Portland State. The lone conference loss for ASU this year came at home against CS Bakersfield in January.

Head Coach Dan Hicks' Titans are 10-6 overall on the year and stand 4-3 in the Pac-10 after falling at CS Bakersfield last week, 30-19. Individually, T.J. Dillashaw is the lone ranked Titan currently as he stands No. 13 at 133 pounds with a 25-4 overall record and a 11-2 mark in dual action. Adin Deunas (141) also holds a solid record, standing 13-5 overall and 9-3 in duals.

Arizona State holds a 15-2-0 lead in the all-time series, but has lost the last two to CS Fullerton, including a 26-18 set back in Fullerton last year (Jan. 13). The Sun Devils are 9-1-0 in the duals with the Titans in Tempe, but lost the last time they met inside Wells Fargo Arena, 30-14 (Jan. 7, 2007).

There will be no meetings of two ranked foes this weekend for the Sun Devils. ASU has ranked wrestlers at 125 (No. 12 Anthony Robles) and 141 (No. 6 Chris Drouin) while CS Fullerton's lone ranked wrestler comes at 133 pounds (No. 13 T.J. Dillashaw).

There are four possible rematches set to take place this weekend with ASU wrestlers holding a 2-2 record against CSUF wrestlers after meeting at various stages in the Reno Tournament of Champions in December. Anthony Robles (125) won his first-round match with Andre Gonzalez with a pin in 2:13 and Chris Drouin (141) won a 6-2 decision over Adin Duenas in the semifinals for ASU's victories. CSUF won at the heavier weights with both matches coming in the consolation rounds, including a 5-3 decision over Todd Noel over ASU's Eric Starks at 174 and a 2-1 decision for then-No. 15 Tim Hawkins over ASU's Jake Meredith at 184.

The match at 149 could be an interesting one as Arizona State's Vicente Varela could face Matt Lopez, a former member of the Sun Devil squad. Lopez redshirted with the team two years ago before transferring to CS Fullerton where he has split time with the Titan's other possible starter, Teddy Astorga.

Sun Devils have won 121 matches this year with 67 of those producing bonus points for the team. So far this season, the Sun Devils have won 20 majors, 11 technical falls, 22 pin falls and 14 forfeits.

Jake Meredith stuck his foe from Grand Canyon in 1:44 to score only the ninth-fast fall of the season and gave ASU its 13th first-period pin on the year. So far this year, Arizona State wrestlers have pinned foes in under one minute three times, including a team-leading fall in 32 seconds by Anthony Robles at the Las Vegas Invitational. The team also has six others coming in under two minutes of match time.

Similar to last year, several Sun Devils have made their collegiate and/or Arizona State debuts on the mats this season with one more joining the list this past weekend against Minnesota. Last week, David Prado, a redshirt freshman, debuted and dropped a 14-5 major decision to No. 7 Zach Sanders, making him the 12th different wrestler to wrestle in his first match for ASU. So far this season, three true freshman have competed, including Te Edwards, Eric Starks and Jake Meredith, and eight redshirt freshman, including Prado, Sal Musto, Anthony Morales, Jeff Cappellini, Vicente Varela, Michael Swigart, Nick Williams and Kyle DeBerry. Erik Nye, a junior college transfer, also saw his first action for the Sun Devils this fall.

With debuts come first victories and another name added to the list following the Cal Poly dual where David Prado won by fall. Of those 11 Sun Devils that have debuted so far this season, nine have won at least one bout: Prado (125), Vicente Varela (149), Te Edwards (157), Kyle DeBerry (165), Eric Starks (174), Jake Meredith (184), Jeff Cappellini (197), Nick Williams and Erik Nye (285).

With their 38-6 defeat of Embry-Riddle, the Sun Devils improved to 3-0 on the year in home duals. The win also marked the 17th time in program history -- as well as the second year in a row -- the team has opened a season 3-0 or better at home. In the program's history, eight Sun Devil teams have gone undefeated at home with the last time coming in the 1992-93 season (8-0-0). Since their win over ERAU, though, the Sun Devils have dropped three in a row (CS Bakersfield, No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 9 Minnesota).

With their 40-0 win over Portland State, the Sun Devils not only recorded their 12th victory in a row over the Vikings (12-1-0 all-time in the series), they also posted the 25th shut out victory in program history. The last time ASU shut out an opponent came in a 46-0 defeat of intrastate rival Embry-Riddle on December 5, 2002, in Tempe. Conversely, the last time the Sun Devils were shut out came this year as ASU fell at Iowa, 41-0.

Last season, the Sun Devils, at various points, had up to seven redshirt freshmen in their starting 10 with two or three seniors. This year, the team will continue to be young as 27 of the 36 athletes on the roster are freshmen or sophomores, including 12 redshirt freshmen and six true freshmen.

Kelsey Campbell, one of the two seniors on the squad this year, is set to defend the two U.S. Women's College Wrestling National Championships that she has won in 2007 (63kg) and 2008 (59kg). The No. 1 college wrestler in the nation at 59kg last year, Campbell competed in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials over the summer and has placed among the Top 4 in several national events throughout the past year.

Arizona (12) and California (nine) provide wrestlers for more than half of the Sun Devil roster this year with other western/southwestern states adding 11 more, including two each from Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Three eastern states are also accounted for on the Sun Devil roster, including two wrestlers from New York and one each from New Jersey and Virginia.

During the month of September, two former Sun Devils competed on the international stage and returned with bronze medals. First up was the 2008 World Beach Championships in Durres, Albania, on September 21 with Jeff Funicello winning a bronze medal in the Under 85kg/187.25 classification for the second year in a row. Funicello also competed in the World Grappling Championships one day earlier and earned a bronze medal at the same weight class. Then, on September 26 in Perm, Russia, John Hughes competed in the 2008 Veteran World Championships and captured the bronze medal in Division E (56 years +) freestyle at 69kg/152.

In the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), the Sun Devil wrestling program has produced some top talent both now and then. While former Sun Devils have held championship belts in the past, including UFC Heavyweight Champion Dan 'The Beast' Severn and Pride Welterweight and Middleweight (at the same time) Champion 'Dangerous' Dan Henderson, the current crop of talent is already turning heads. That trio (all of which were All-Americans in 2006) include up-and-coming UFC heavyweight Cain Velasquez, TUF Season 7 runner-up (middleweight) C.B. 'The Doberman' Dollaway and TUF Season 8 light heavyweight winner Ryan 'Darth' Bader.

The team will be led by a trio of captains this season, including junior Thor Moen (197) and sophomores Anthony Robles (125) and Chris Drouin (141).

Over the past several seasons, the Sun Devil wrestling program has been active in the community and lending a hand where they can. Last year, the wrestlers visited with children and handed out dinner and dessert to those in attendance the day before Thanksgiving and also read to numerous children at the UMOM New Day Center in Phoenix one week later, just two name two events. This year, the Sun Devils participated in the Wilson Neighborhood Cleanup (helping the neighborhood remove debris around the elementary school in Phoenix) while also talking to children at Lomas Elementary School as part of Sparky's Tour (teaching children about the importance of education).

Over the weekend, former Sun Devil All-American Ryan Bader stepped into the Octagon inside the Palms in Las Vegas, Nev., and won the light heavyweight division of the eighth season of the Ultimate Fighter. 'Darth' Bader, as he is known in the world of MMA (mixed martial arts), kept the fight on its feet in the opening minutes of action and exchanged punches and kicks with his opponent, Vinny Magalhaes, before landing a huge overhand right that dropped the world champion jiu-jitsu fighter from Brazil. Bader moved in with some more punches on the ground before the referee stepped in and called the fight for Bader at 2:18 (TKO). The former three-time Pac-10 Champion at 197 pounds will now receive a contract with the UFC.

Speaking of Bader's success on The Ultimate Fighter, another former Sun Devil will soon be appearing on the reality show on Spike TV as 'Dangerous' Dan Henderson will be coaching one of the teams on the next season. Henderson was selected for the coaching duty after defeating Rich 'Ace' Franklin in a light heavyweight battle in Dublin, Ireland, earlier this month.

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 169-56-2 all-time inside Wells Fargo Arena (207-92-2 all-time at home). With its 36-3 defeat of Utah Valley on Jan. 10, 2005, ASU recorded its 150th victory at WFA.

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. Since the opening, the facility has hosted numerous practices for the Sun Devils and Sunkist and was a two-week training home for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Team before it headed to Beijing. One of the wrestlers that trained at the facility along side the Sun Devils was Henry Cejudo, who won Olympic Gold this summer.

The Sun Devils will take a weekend off from competition before setting their sights on the Pac-10 Championships and qualifying for the NCAA Championships. The Pac-10 meet will take place on March 1-2 and will be held inside Titan Gym on the CS Fullerton campus.

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