TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University wrestling team, coming off a 4-0 start to the season last weekend on the road, will head to the East Coast this weekend for its first tournament action of the season as the Sun Devils compete in the Keystone Classic inside the Palestra in Philadelphia, Pa. The tournament, hosted by Pennsylvania, will feature all eastern teams, including No. 13 UT-Chattanooga, No. 23 Penn and No. 25 American.
IN THE TOURNAMENT
Along with the three ranked teams mentioned above, the Sun Devils also could face competitors from Appalachian State, Boston University, Brown, Rider, VMI and Mercyhurst. The field will include 16 different wrestlers ranked among the Top 20 according to the November 13 USA Today/NWCA/InterMat rankings. The more loaded weight classes include 197 pounds, where No. 1 Josh Glenn (American), No. 10 Matt Koz (UTC), No. 15 Jason Trulson (ASU) and No. 16 T.J. Morrison (Rider) could compete with 184 pounds having three ranked competitors, including No. 13 Doug Umbehauer (Rider), No. 17 Lior Zamir (Penn) and No. 18 Brent Chriswell (ASU).
PITSCH IN ALL-STAR CLASSIC
Senior Patrick Pitsch will not travel with the team to Philadelphia this weekend as he will instead head to Eugene, Ore., for the NWCA All-Star Classic presented by the United States Marine Corps on Monday night on McArthur Court on the Oregon campus. Pitsch, ranked No. 3 in the nation at 165 pounds, will face No. 2 Eric Tannenbaum of Michigan in the exhibition event that looks to pit the top-ranked wrestlers in the nation against one another.
ON THE AIR
Fans can watch the All-Star Classic live from their computers on Monday night thanks to Live Sports Video. For more information, click HERE.
Patrick Pitsch is the 27th different Sun Devil to be selected to compete in the Classic and will be the 24th to compete (three were sidelined due to injury). The last time Arizona State was represented in the competition was last year as No. 1 Brian Stith (157) suffered a 2-1 setback to No. 2 Trent Paulson of Iowa State in Dallas. Overall, Sun Devil wrestlers are 10-12-1 all-time in the Classic with the last win coming in 2000 when the late Steve Blackford scored a 13-1 major decision over Kirk White of Boise State at 165 pounds.
THE INSIDE TRIP
This week, Patrick Pitsch began his weekly blog, The Inside Trip, on the official web site of Arizona State Athletics, thesundevils.com. In his first installment, Pitsch takes you behind the scenes of the team's trip to UC Davis and the Portland State Duals. The read this week's blog, as well as the latest editions each week, visit the wrestling page of thesundevils.com and look for the Inside Trip on the right side of the page.
OFF AND RUNNING
Arizona State scored four dual victories to open its 2007-08 season last weekend, all four of which came on the road. The Sun Devils opened the weekend with a 20-17 win at UC Davis before heading to the Portland State Duals where they won 45-6 over Pacific (Ore.), 30-7 over Southern Oregon and 36-9 over Portland State. The duals with the UCD Aggies and PSU Vikings were Pac-10 Conference contests giving ASU a 2-0 record in the league.
With their 4-0 record last weekend, the Sun Devils have opened the past three years with perfect records, including a 2-0 start last year and a 3-0 record in 2005-06. The last time the Sun Devils opened a season with four or more victories in a row came during Thom Ortiz' first year with the team when Arizona State opened the 2001-02 season with a 4-0 record. A win over Embry-Riddle on November 25 at home would give ASU its best start since the 1992-93 team won its first six duals of the year.
MORE FLAWLESS STARTS
Over the weekend, nine different Sun Devils posted undefeated records including two 4-0 starts, three 3-0 starts and two 2-0 starts. Todd Schavrien (133) and Chris Drouin (141) both put together 4-0 records on the weekend while Anthony Robles (125), Brent Chriswell (184) and Jason Trulson (197) each went 3-0.
During the opening weekend, 15 different Sun Devils took to the mats in at least one bout. Eight of those wrestlers, all of which are redshirt freshmen, competed in the college ranks for the first time in their careers and combined to go 19-4 overall. Of those 19 victories, five came by fall with two each coming by major decision and technical fall. Combined, ASU's first three weight classes -- Anthony Robles (125), Todd Schavrien (133) and Chris Drouin (141) -- went 11-0 with two wins by major, two by technical fall and two by fall. Brent Chriswell (184) also started strong as he posted a 3-0 record with a fall in 33 seconds.
While the freshman class looked solid as a whole, a few performances on opening night were quite spectacular. Against Pac-10 foe UC Davis, Anthony Robles, in his first college match, took on Marcos Orozco at 125 pounds, a senior that placed third in the conference last year and advanced to the NCAA Championships. After giving up and early takedown and trailing 2-0 at the end of one, Robles chose top and picked up three, two-point near falls on his way to the 7-5 victory. Later in the dual, at 184 pounds, Brent Chriswell made his college debut a short instance as he took his opponent down 31 seconds into the bout only to pin him two seconds later.
Bonus point victories were prevalent over the weekend as the Sun Devils won by major decision or greater in 18 of their 29 victories. All told, the Sun Devils won four major decisions, two technical falls and seven falls while adding five victories by forfeit.
Of those seven wins by pin-fall, only two came outside of the first period. Brent Chriswell (184) recorded the fastest fall of the weekend as he pinned UC Davis' Jon Clark in just 33 seconds. Also scoring first period falls were Kenny Lester (heavyweight) in 1:25, Chris Drouin (141) in 1:42, Quinton Pruett (heavyweight) in 2:13 and Jerrad Trulson (149) in 2:40. Drouin was the lone Sun Devil with a pair of pins on the weekend as he also pinned an opponent in 6:18. Jason Trulson (197) also won by fall in 4:50.
IN THE RANKINGS
Despite its 4-0 start, the Sun Devils are not receiving vote in the national rankings this week, according to the USA Today/NWCA/InterMat Top 25 rankings. Individually in the InterMat/NWCA/NWMA rankings (November 12), three Sun Devils are listed among the Top 20 in their respective weight classes, including No. 3 Patrick Pitsch (165), No. 15 Jason Trulson (197) and No. 18 Brent Chriswell (184).
In other preseason team rankings, the Sun Devils are ranked No. 24 according to RevWrestling.com and W.I.N. Magazine. Individually, Patrick Pitsch (165) is ranked No. 4 by both Rev and W.I.N. and No. 5 by Amateur Wrestling News while Brent Chriswell (184) is No. 14 according to Rev and Jason Trulson (197) is No. 9 according to W.I.N. and No. 15 according to Rev.
The preseason rankings for the Pac-10 Conference were released by tournament host Oregon on November 12 and five Sun Devils have been selected to Top 5 placements. Patrick Pitsch, the two-time defending 165-pound champion, is No. 1 with Jason Trulson ranked No. 2 at 197 after finishing third last year. Rick Renzi (174) and Quinton Pruett (285) are both ranked No. 4 while Todd Schavrien (133) is No. 5.
CAMPBELL ON THE ROSTER
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.
TOP OF HER CLASS
Kelsey Campbell is currently ranked on a pair of national women's lists, including No. 1 at 59kg (130 pounds) in the Collegiate Women's Wrestling Association preseason rankings. She also is ranked No. 5 in TheMat.com's U.S. Senior Women's Rankings (May 2007).
A pair of Sun Devil coaches competed at the Hargobind International Open in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, over the weekend with both Erick Larkin and Zach Roberson reaching the finals of their respective weight classes. Roberson won the title at 60kg as he defeated Yogeshwar Dutt of India while Larkin, competing at 66kg, fell to Jared Frayer of Gator WC to place second overall.
WHERE THEY RANK
Several former Sun Devils are currently ranked among the Top 10 in TheMat.com's U.S. Senior Freestyle Rankings, released November 2, as well as the Senior Greco-Roman Rankings, released May 16. In freestyle, current coaches Zach Roberson and Eric Larkin are ranked, standing third at 60kg (132) and sixth at 66kg (145.5), respectively, while former Sun Devil Danny Felix is currently ranked No. 6 at 55kg (121). In Greco-Roman, current Sun Devil Kenny Lester is ranked No. 9 at 120kg (264.5 pounds) while former Sun Devil Eric Albarracin is third at 55kg (121).
MORE INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS
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.
If the Arizona State roster appears to be filled with freshmen, there is a reason: it is. Of the 38 wrestlers on the roster this year, 24 are freshmen, making up 64 percent of the team. Of those 24 rookies, 12 are true freshmen while the other 12 redshirted last year.
BACK FOR MORE
Of the five remaining starters to open the season, all five saw action last year. Alex Pavlenko (157) has dropped down from 174 where he was a starter before the return of this year's starter, Rick Renzi (174). Patrick Pitsch (165) and Jason Trulson (197) both were the primary starter at their respective weights while Quinton Pruett (heavyweight) saw limited action at both 197 and heavyweight.
WHERE IN THE WORLD?
The Sun Devil roster is comprised of 38 student-athletes this year with nearly all four "corner "of the continental United States represented. From Washington in the northwest to California and Arizona in the southwest to Florida in the southeast and as far northeast as New York, the 2007-08 roster has at least one wrestler from 14 different states. Arizona (13) and California (8) lead the way while multiple athletes hail from Washington (3), Nevada (2), New York (2) and Oregon (2). The remaining states represented include Colorado, Florida, Kansas, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
LOSS OF FIVE
Five wrestlers that were in the starting lineup for much of last year are gone from the roster with four of those Sun Devils graduating. John Espinoza (125), Chris Remsen (149), Brian Stith (157) and Greg Gifford (184) all earned their degrees while 133-pound starter Shawn Jones left the University following his freshman year for his Morman mission.
The Maroon team, led my alumni coach C.B. Dollaway, downed Ryan Bader's Gold team, 60-10, on October 27 in the 14-bout wrestle-off at the Riches Wrestling Complex. The Maroon team scored pin-fall victories in six of their 12 wins on the day, including Rick Renzi's pin in 1:24 of the 174 bout. The fastest fall of the day was recorded by newcomer Brent Chriswell at 184 (one bout after Renzi's fast fall) as he picked up the pin in 30 seconds.
ON THE SCHEDULE
The 2007-08 season will see the Sun Devils compete in 17 duals, including nine home duals, and five tournaments. In the regular season, Arizona State will send competitors to the Keystone Classic (Philadelphia), Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational and Reno Tournament of Champions, all of which come before the end of the December. Following 12 duals after the turn of the New Year, the Sun Devils will head to Eugene, Ore., for the 2007 Pac-10 Championships (March 2-3) and conclude the season at the 2007 NCAA Wrestling Championships (March 20-22).
FACING SOME OF THE BEST
Of those 17 duals on the Sun Devils' schedule this season, five teams are ranked among the national Top 25 according the November 12 USA Today/NWCA/InterMat poll. On the list are No. 2 Iowa State, No. 4 Iowa, No. 21 Oklahoma, No. 23 Penn and No. 24 Oregon State.
Arizona State will face a pair of teams this year it has never faced in dual competition during its 45 years as a varsity competition. Both of those squads, Army and Grand Canyon, will be part of the January 6 Sun Devil Duals.
RETURNING PAC-10 CHAMPION
Senior Patrick Pitsch is the team's lone returning Pac-10 champion, having won the crown at 165 pounds each of the past two seasons. Last year, the No. 2 seed in the tournament opened the event with an 11-2 major over Evan Barbre (Cal Poly) before downing No. 3-seed Brian Perry (Stanford), 7-4. Pitsch closed out the tournament with a close 3-2 decision over top-seeded Dustin Noack (UC Davis) to defend his title. In 2006, Pitsch was seeded third and knocked off No. 6 Risto Marttinen (CS Fullerton), 11-3, No. 2 Ray Blake (Stanford), 4-1, and No. 5 Brian Busby (CS Bakersfield), 7-5, for his first crown. Pitsch will look to become only the 17th Sun Devil to win three conference crowns in a career and the 14th Sun Devil to win three Pac-10 titles in a career (ASU was in the WAC prior to the 1979 meet).
LOOKING BACK AT 2006-07 SEASON
The Sun Devils posted an 8-11 overall record and went 5-2 in Pac-10 duals last year before placing fifth at the Pac-10 Championships and tied for 34th at the NCAA Championships. Brian Stith (157), Patrick Pitsch (165) and Greg Gifford (184) each won individual Pac-10 titles to qualify for the NCAA Championships and were joined by Jason Trulson (197) in the national tournament after he placed third in the conference.
HOME OF THE SUN DEVILS
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 164-54-2 all-time inside Wells Fargo Arena (202-88-2 all-time at home). With its 36-3 defeat of Utah Valley State on January 10, 2005, ASU recorded its 150th victory at WFA.
NEXT TIME OUT
The Sun Devils will compete in their first home dual of the year on Sunday, November 25, when Embry-Riddle visits Tempe for a 2 p.m. dual.