7 Sun Devils at NCAA Championships in Motor City
DETROIT - It's national championships week for the Sun Devils! Zeke Jones is taking seven wrestlers to Detroit for the NCAA Wrestling Championships, hosted at Little Caesars Arena. 125 Brandon Courtney, 133 Michael McGee, 149 Kyle Parco, 157 Jacori Teemer, 165 Anthony Valencia, 197 Kordell Norfleet, and HWT Cohlton Schultz will go for gold in the Motor City. Competition runs Thursday-Saturday and will air between ESPN and ESPNU.
"For us we're grateful and thankful for the opportunity to be here," Jones said. "We're grateful that we get to be here in the position and thankful we get to still be in the sport of wrestling during these weird times with COVID - we still get to do something we love. For us it's pretty exciting. We try not to get weird and just have fun. We're taking seven strong guys to the NCAA tournament and all are capable or even have already been on the podium so we have high goals for the week."
It's a home championship for Coach Jones and familiar territory for assistant coach Lee Pritts too. Jones is from Ann Arbor, and Pritts wrestled at Eastern Michigan where he was a two-time team captain and made three appearances in the NCAA Championships, earning All-America honors in 1996 for Eastern Michigan and qualified for the 2000 Olympic trials.
"I'm excited to be back in my home state of Michigan," Jone said. "I was born and raised in Ann Arbor and have always been a Michigan guy. I spend my summers at Houghton Lake with my brother and my family and it's nice to go back and see a lot of my friends who I don't normally get to see being in Phoenix."
Trophy huntin' ?????? pic.twitter.com/3KE5qnlwlG
— Sun Devil Wrestling (@ASUWrestling) March 15, 2022
??: A team to keep an eye on at the @NCAAWrestling Tournament is @ASUWrestling! The Sun Devils will be sending SEVEN wrestlers to the NCAA's in Detroit next week after winning their 3rd straight PAC-12 Championship! @wkedmondss @azfamily @MarkMcClune pic.twitter.com/xvLCzDtrUc
— Julia Lopez (@JuliaLopez3) March 13, 2022
2022 NCAA seeds & first-round matchups
Brandon Courtney, 125 4th seed - Joe Manchio, Columbia
Michael McGee, 133 3rd seed - Richie Koehler, Rider
Kyle Parco, 149 5th seed - Kody Komara, Kent State
Jacori Teemer, 157 3rd seed - Hunter Richard, Cornell
Anthony Valencia, 165 18th seed - Austin Yant, Northern Iowa
Kordell Norfleet, 197 16th - Jay Aiello, Virginia
Cohlton Schultz, heavyweight 2nd seed - Zachary Knighton-Ward, Hofstra
Championship info/watch links
Brackets, live results (Trackwrestling)
|Thursday morning||March 17||Noon||ESPNU|
|Thursday evening||March 17||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Friday morning||March 18||11 a.m.||ESPNU|
|Friday evening||March 18||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Saturday morning||March 19||11 a.m.||ESPNU|
|Saturday evening||March 19||7 p.m.||ESPN|
Session 1/Round 1: Noon EST
Session 2/prelims round 2/consolation round 1: 7:00 p.m. EST
Session 3/ quarter finals/Consolation rounds 2 & 3: 11:00 a.m. EST
Session 4/ semi-finals/consolation rounds 4 &5: 8:00 p.m. EST
Session 5/ consolation semis - 3rd, 5th and 7th: 11:00 a.m. EST
Grand March 6:35 p.m. EST
Championship finals: 7:00 p.m. EST
On what's going through his head
Same thing as usual, it's just another tournament with a lot on the line. The energy's always immaculate and this year the crowd's probably going to be better without the COVID restrictions, so I'm just looking forward to putting on a show like always.
On his personal advantages
I'm always loose out there and having fun. I'm putting up points and putting on a show - it's just what I do. Since eighth grade I've been wrestling in big arenas and in all-star matches so these are just more matches. Physically I'm peaking - our coaches do a lot to make sure we're peaking at the right times. My body's feeling good, my weight's down, and I have a lot of energy.
On another chance at the national title
I'm excited I get to redeem myself. I didn't get that first-place like I wanted last year but being able to take seven guys to the tournament this time is going to be awesome. We're going to go out there and compete.
On what went through his mind after his silver medal finish and what's been on his mind this year
I've been a little nervous because I'm so high-ranked but those are the bad negative thoughts that you can't be thinking. Going into the NCAAs highly ranked - nothing changes. I could go in ranked 30th and I'm still going to go in there and compete.
On his thoughts on Nick Suriano
I've never wrestled Surino in a match, but he was out here [Tempe] in the summer and we practiced a little bit together. Dude's tough, I'm not going to take anything away from him, but it's going to be scrappy and fun. Who doesn't love some tough competition? It's going to be fun, I'm excited.
On his mindset going into the tournament this year
I have big expectations. One main thing that's on my mind is just solidifying my position in college. I think a lot of people last year think that my All-American last year was a fluke or a one-time thing and I want to show them that I'm here to stay. So that's going to be the one thing on my mind this year.
Bulldog Insider feature: now at Arizona State, Kyle Parco heads back to NCAA wrestling championships | story by @andrewmarden with special thanks to @JuliaLopez3 for the video! https://t.co/JyVIZhC1vM
— KSEE24 News (@KSEE24) March 14, 2022
On whether he thinks about the top talent in the heavyweight class
I'm always aware of everybody in my bracket. I remember seeing on Twitter before the season started something about five world champions all in the heavyweight class right now and being a part of that is incredible and I'm grateful to be in that group. I'm just excited to try and beat them more than anything.
Championship Storylines and Notables:
ASU's lone national team title came in 1988 and featured Zeke Jones at 118 lbs. The Ann Arbor, Michigan, native was a three-time All-American, three-time Pac-10 champion, and national runner-up at 118 lbs with the Sun Devils from 1987-1990 before going on to earn the 1991 52kg World Champion title.
2021 NCAA finishes:
Brandon Courtney, 125 runner-up
Michael McGee, 133 sixth place
Jacori Teemer, 157 fourth place
Anthony Valencia, 165 eighth place
Kordell Norfleet, loss in consolation round 3
Cohlton Schultz, heavyweight fourth place
2021 All-Americans: Courtney, McGee, Teemer, Valencia, Schultz, Kyle Parco (Fresno State).
- Kordell Norfleet was also a NWCA All-American in 2020.
ASU has 12 national titles via nine individuals. Most recently two-time champ Zahid Valencia collected crowns at 174 in 2018 and 2019:
Culp, Curley - HWT 1967
Urbano, Eddie - 150 1985
St. John, Dan - 158 1989
St. John, Dan - 167 1990
Mollica, Markus - 158 1993
Miller, Ray - 167 1993
Mollica, Markus - 167 1995
Larkin, Eric - 149 2003
Robles, Anthony - 125 2011
Bubba Jenkins - 157 2011
Valencia, Zahid - 174 2018
Valencia, Zahid - 174 2019
Michael McGee scored the most points (75) across all participants at the 2021 NCAA Championships. Jacori Teemer tied for second with 68 next to Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State). McGee was battling a nagging injury throughout the end of most of last season but is 100% this time around.
Kordell Norfleet has commented multiple times about feeling like he left the team down with his losses in the quarterfinals and consolation rounds last year. He's reenergized this time around and is coming off a fourth Pac-12 title.
- He ties with program legends Curley Culp, Eric Larkin, Markus Mollica and Anthony Valencia who all have four conference titles.
Jacori Teemer (19-0) and Cohlton Schultz (18-0) are still undefeated on the year.
ASU Lineup Accomplishments:
125: Brandon Courtney (21-1): 3x Pac-12 Champion, '21 NCAA Runner Up, '20 NWCA All-American
133: Michael McGee (22-2): '22 Pac-12 Champion, 3x NCAA qualifier, Pac-12 '21 bronze, 2x MAC Champion, MAC Freshman of the year
149: Kyle Parco (21-1): '22 Pac-12 Champion, NCAA '21 All-American (6th), Big-12 Championship bronze (149, Fresno State)
157: Jacori Teemer (19-0): 3x Pac-12 Champion, 2x All-American, 2021 NCAA fourth-place finish
165: Anthony Valencia (16-6): 4th at '22 Pac-12 Championship, 2x All-American, Mexican Senior National Team, 4x Pac-12 Champ
197: Kordell Norfleet (14-3): 4x Pac-12 Champion, 3x NCAA Qualifier, Second Team All-American
HWT: Cohlton Schultz(18-0): '22 Pac-12 Champion, 4th at '21 NCAAs, USA Greco-Roman Senior National Team, 2x Pac-12 Champ