Pac-10 Road Dual Awaits Sun Devil Wrestling on Sunday

Dec. 31, 2009

Sun Devil Mat Notes (pdf)

TEMPE - Following a two-week break, the No. 22 Arizona State University wrestling team will return to the competition mats this weekend as the Sun Devils (3-2, 2-0 Pac-10) will travel to the Icardo Center in Bakersfield, Calif., to take on host CS Bakersfield (0-2, 0-1 Pac-10) for a Pac-10 dual at 2 p.m. PT Sunday. The Sun Devils last competed on December 20 when they finished in a tie for fourth place at the 2009 Reno Tournament of Champions.

When the Sun Devils face the Roadrunners on Sunday, they will look to continue one streak to three in a row and also halt one streak before it hits three. If the Sun Devils win the dual, they will move to 3-0 on the season in conference action after sweeping a season-opening weekend at UC Davis (38-6) and at CS Fullerton (37-4). A victory also would halt a two-dual skid in the series with CS Bakersfield as this weekend's host has won the last two after ASU had won three in a row.

The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) released its coaches' team rankings once again on December 22 with Sun Devils sliding one spot to No. 22 after tying for fourth at the Reno Tournament of Champions. For the first time this season, six of the Sun Devils' dual opponents are ranked in the Top 25, including No. 2 Iowa State, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 14 Nebraska, No. 19 Cal Poly and No. 25 Oregon State. The Sun Devils are one four Pac-10 teams in the national Top 25 which also includes No. 8 Boise State. In three other rankings, the Sun Devils remained among the Top 20 as they are No. 18 in the rankings; No. 19 in the InterMat ranking; and No. 20 in the Wrestling Insider Magazine rankings.

All four of those ranking services have three Sun Devils ranked this week (December 22) with Amateur Wrestling News ranking each wrestler the highest, including No. 3 Anthony Robles (125), No. 11 Chris Drouin (141) and No. 15 Erik Nye (285). One service,, has Ben Ashmore ranked this week at 133 pounds as he stands 24th.

UC Davis, the host of the 2010 Pac-10 Conference Wrestling Championships, has begun releasing rankings for the conference and, in the December 7 release, has nine of the 10 starters ranked among the Top 5 in the conference at their respective weights. Anthony Robles leads the way for Arizona State as he is ranked No. 1 at 125 pounds while Eric Starks is No. 2 at 174. Chris Drouin (141), Kyle DeBerry (165) and Erik Nye (285) are all ranked No. 3 while Jake Meredith (184) is No. 4. Ben Ashmore (133), Vicente Varela (149) and Te Edwards (157) are all ranked No. 5 currently.

Arizona State leads the all-time series with CS Bakersfield, 20-9-1, and holds a 12-4-0 lead in duals contested in Bakersfield, Calif. The Roadrunners have won the last two duals overall, including a 36-15 score last year in Tempe and a 22-13 decision in Bakersfield during the 2007-08 season. The Roadrunners are looking to defeat ASU three times in a row for just the second time ever (1980-81 season through 1982-83 season).

CS Bakersfield jumped out to a 17-0 lead through three matches to run away with the dual victory as the visiting Roadrunners won a 36-15 decision in a dual that saw all but two matches end in decision. Eric Starks (decision), Anthony Robles (pin) and Chris Drouin (pin) were the only victors for the host Sun Devils as CSUB won four matches by pin fall, one by technical fall, one by major decision and one by decision. Similar to this season, the Sun Devils entered the dual with a perfect 2-0 record in the Pac-10 before the loss to CSUB.

Four weight classes could feature some highly anticipated matches this weekend with those match-ups coming at 141, 165, 184 and heavyweight. At 141, Chris Drouin (#3) and Elijah Nacita (#5) could meet again with Drouin looking to exact some revenge after falling to Nacita, 8-1, in the Reno Tournament of Champions on December 20. The match at 165 looks to feature Joey Granata (#2) and Kyle DeBerry (#3) in one of the three matches (according to the December 7 rankings) that has a Roadrunner ranked ahead of a Sun Devil. The match at 184 is another closely ranked battle as Jake Meredith (#4) and Mike Larson (#5) could meet while the heavyweight battle could be just that as Erik Nye (#3) will look to upset Mitch Monteiro (#1).

One match in the dual will pit former teammates against one another as Eric Starks and Trevor Hall meet at 174 pounds. Starks, a sophomore, and Hall, a junior, were teammates at Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Wash., before heading off to a pair of Pac-10 schools for their collegiate careers. The duo have not met on the collegiate mats so far.

The No. 21 Arizona State University wrestling team saw five of its individuals place in the Top 6 with Anthony Robles taking second place at 125 pounds to lead the way as the Sun Devils placed in a tie for fourth overall at the 2009 Reno Tournament of Champions event that was held in Reno on Sunday. The Sun Devils scored 77 points to tie with Ohio for fourth while No. 3 Oklahoma State won the title with 154 points. No. 17 Edinboro was second with 85.5 points and No. 15 Penn State was third with 83 points. The team finish for the Sun Devils is their best since the 2002 tournament in which they place third overall for the third time in the event. ASU has moved up the standings each of the last two seasons, taking sixth last year and fourth this year, to give the program nine Top 6 finishes in their 11 appearances. Robles, the top seed and second-ranked wrestler at 125 pounds, went 4-1 on the day and moved easily to the semifinals with wins by fall in 59 second and 1:25 before scoring a 17-2 technical fall. He needed a late takedown to defeat fifth-seeded and 11th-ranked Chris Notte of Oklahoma State before third-seeded and seventh-ranked Eric Morrill of Edinboro won a 4-3 decision in the finals. Heavyweight Erik Nye had another strong showing in tournament action for the Sun Devils as he went 4-2 on the day and took fourth place with both losses coming in close decisions. Nye opened the tournament with a win by fall in 2:09 before advancing to the semifinals where he fell to eventual champion Jake Rosholt of Oklahoma State, the top-seeded and third-ranked wrestler in the nation. Nye rebounded with a win in the consolation semifinals before falling to Kurt Klimek of CS Fullerton, 3-1. Two Sun Devils placed fifth in their respective weight classes with Chris Drouin and Vicente Varela earning those finishes at 141 and 149, respectively. The second-seeded and fifth-ranked Drouin advanced to the semifinals before third-seeded and sixth-ranked Jamal Parks of Oklahoma State, the eventual champion, handed the ASU junior a 3-2 setback. Drouin found himself in a battle for fifth place at the end of the day and defeated Navy’s Matt Pagan for the second time, this time with a 4-3 decision. Varela, like Nye, also had another strong showing in tournament action as he won four elimination matches in a row to place. After going 1-1 in the championship rounds, Varela won by fall in 1:07, an 18-5 major decision and then a 7-2 decision over the eighth-seeded Luke Silver of Oklahoma State before taking another win by major (9-0). Varela, who fell in the consolation semifinals, won fifth place by medical forfeit. The final Sun Devil to place was Eric Starks at 174 pounds as he took sixth. The sophomore won his first three matches of the day to advance to the semifinals, but lost his next three in decisions decided by four or less to settle for sixth.

So far this year, Anthony Robles is 14-2 with his two losses coming in tournament finals in Las Vegas and Reno. In Reno, Robles rolled his first three opponents with two falls (0:59 and 1:25) and a 17-2 techincal fall before defeating No. 8 Chris Notte (Oklahoma State) for the second time this year, 2-1. In the final, Robles lost a one-point decision, falling 4-3 to No. 7 Eric Morrill (Edinboro). His previous loss this year came to No. 1 Angel Escobedo (Indiana), 4-2, in Vegas.

Heavyweight Erik Nye holds a 12-7 record so far this season with a 6-5 record in matches decided by two or fewer points. With a 2-1 record in those type of matches at Reno two weeks ago, Nye is now 2-2 on the year in matches decided by two points and he is 4-3 in matches decided by one point.

For the first time in the regular season in his two years of competition, Vicente Varela placed in a tournament as he finished fifth in the Reno Tournament of Champions (took seventh at the 2009 Pac-10 tournament). Varela won four matches in a row in the consolation rounds, including a fall in 1:07, a 7-2 decision and pair of majors (18-5, 9-0) before falling in the consolation semifinals. So far this year, Varela holds a 12-6 record and is tied for the second-most wins on the team. At this point last year, Varela was 7-7 overall and ended the season with a 10-13 record, two fewer wins than he already has this season.

The Sun Devils will remain on the road next weekend as they travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa, for the 2010 NWCA National Duals on January 9-10. The dual opponents for the Sun Devils will be determined next week as they will be based upon the most current national rankings. Northern Iowa is hosting the event inside the UNI Dome on its campus.

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