Wrestling Senior Day Recognizes Six
On Thursday, No. 8 Arizona State will host its senior day as they take on Cal Poly in a Pac-12 showdown Thursday morning. Six Sun Devils will hit the mat one last time at Desert Financial Arena. The 2021 class features two All-Americans, two Pac-12 champions, and four wrestlers who've featured at the Pac-12 championships.
Belshay joined the Sun Devils as an InterMat and FloWrestling top-20 recruit. In his career at ASU, Belshay competed in three different weight classes (184, 197, and HWT). His best season came last year where he celebrated a career-high 13 victories and placed third at the Pac-12 Championships. Belshay also represented the Sun Devils at the United World Wrestling Junior and U23 Nationals in November where he placed fourth in the 86kg class.
Belshay has also been an example on and off the mat as he has been a member of Barrett, the Honors College at ASU.
Zeke Jones praised Belshay for the legacy that he will leave for those that follow him.
"Cade came here from California, and is a Barrett Honors College student athlete and Sun Devil wrestler," the Sun Devils head coach said. "He'll be leaving with a tremendous platform for life and will be a Sun Devil for life."
New year, new wrestler at 184, still dominant ?? pic.twitter.com/4FionAoEQA
— Sun Devil Wrestling (@ASUWrestling) January 2, 2021
Before Arizona State, he was named the Deer Valley Unified School District Athlete of the Year and a high school State Champion. Upon arriving at ASU, he redshirted his freshman season, but took his school seriously and ended year one with Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention honors.
His redshirt sophomore year was highlighted by two top-five finishes at tournaments at North Dakota State and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Crooks continued to improve as he finished third in the Pac-12 Championships last season, and he carried that momentum into the U23 Nationals in Omaha, winning six straight matches en route to a fifth place finish with an 8-2 overall record.
When asked about the impact Crooks has had on the program, Zeke Jones emphasized the two best qualities any athlete could possess:
"If you want to talk about the ultimate player and coach, you think of Cory Crooks," Jones said. "He's an outstanding leader. No one has worked harder, has been more committed, and cares more about Sun Devil Wrestling. Cory is the ultimate Sun Devil."
— Sun Devil Wrestling (@ASUWrestling) January 2, 2021
Lipari transferred to Arizona State this year as a graduate transfer after spending four seasons at Rutgers and one season at Rider. During his time with the Scarlet Knights, Lipari won 38 matches and was an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Championships as a redshirt junior during the 2018-19 season.
As for his time with the Broncos, Lipari became an instant starter at the 141-pound weight class when he joined the team in December 2019. During his lone season with Rider, Lipari went 8-2 in dual matches, including a 4-1 record against Mid-American Conference opponents.
Since donning the Maroon and Gold, Lipari has been a constant staple for Zeke Jones' squad at 141 pounds. In his four matches, Lipari has won two bouts via decision.
The Sun Devils head coach had only nice things to say about Lipari and his short stint with the team.
"We were excited that Peter came to our program this year after a college career in New Jersey," Jones said. "He's been a great addition at 141 for our program and we appreciate his service this season."
A native of Bakersfield, Calif., and former high school State and National Champion in 2016, Demison joined the Sun Devils in 2017. In his freshman season, Demison finished with a 5-1 record.
"We're happy for Navonte graduating as a Sun Devil student athlete. He will be a Sun Devil forever," Jones said.
One of the most decorated wrestlers in program history, Anthony Valencia came to Tempe as the No. 1 recruit in the nation in 2015 after winning three California State Championships at 170 pounds.
Valencia was the Pac-12 Champion at 165 pounds his sophomore year, his effort earning him Sun Devil Newcomer of the Year honors. After one season on the mat, a star was born and he quickly planted himself in the history books.
After one season, Valencia ranked fifth in ASU's all-time single-season bonus point wins, tied for eighth in single-season major decisions, and tied for 16th in tech fall wins in a career in just one season repping the Maroon and Gold. During the 2017-18 season, he repeated as Pac-12 Champion with two wins via pinfall, qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
After redshirting 2018-19, Valencia picked up right where he left off the previous year, becoming the 18th wrestler in program history to win three Pac-12 titles. He went on a nine-match winning streak on the back stretch of the season, including four falls, three wins via major decision, and one technical fall. For the second time in his career, Valencia qualified for the NCAA Championships and was awarded First-Team All-American and NWCA Scholar All-American honors. This season, he holds an undefeated 5-0 record and has one sight on his mind, winning his first NCAA National Championship.
Coach Jones had nothing but great things to say about Valencia and his impact on Sun Devils wrestling.
"Words can't describe how much Anthony Valencia means to this program," he said. "Anthony is an original 'First Believer.' He was the person that first believed that Arizona State Wrestling could be great again. He was the foundation and the rock that rebuilt Sun Devil Wrestling into a championship caliber program. A three-time Pac-12 Champion, NCAA All-American, with a National Championship in his sites. He fully committed his life to our values and our culture. We will never be able to replace Anthony Valencia."
— Sun Devil Wrestling (@ASUWrestling) January 9, 2021
The former back-to-back State Champion joined ASU in 2017. As a freshman, Norfleet won the 184-pound Pac-12 Championship and was one of 16 freshmen to qualify for the NCAA Championships. He was also the Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year.
Last season, Norfleet earned NWCA Second-Team All-American honors after winning the Pac-12 Championship at the 197-pound weight class, his second title in three years. He also became the 14th wrestler in program history, and fourth-consecutive Sun Devil, to be named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Pac-12 Championships. Norfleet also qualified for the NCAA Championships for the second time.
Norfleet's four top-15 ranked victories, including a win over Penn State's third-ranked Kyle Conel, fueled the Sun Devils to an upset victory over the No. 1 team in the nation at Desert Financial Arena.
"Kordell has left his mark on the program in so many ways," Jones said. "Through so many victories like his pin against Nathan Traxler of Stanford at Pac-12 Championships last spring, through his academic leadership off the mat, and work ethic."
— Sun Devil Wrestling (@ASUWrestling) March 8, 2020