March 19, 2013
TEMPE - Four members of the Arizona State University wrestling team are slated to compete at the 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships this week in Des Moines, Iowa at the Wells Fargo Arena. The event will take place beginning Wednesday, March 20 and continue through March 23. All sections of the competition are slated to be broadcast in some form by the ESPN family of networks. The Sun Devils will be represented in the four upper-weight classes with redshirt freshman Blake Stauffer competing at 174 pounds, redshirt sophomore Kevin Radford at 184 pounds and seniors Jake Meredith and Levi Cooper at 197 and heavyweight.
• The Sun Devils hosted the 2013 Pac-12 Championships this year in Tempe, Ariz., on March 2, finishing third overall
• ASU returned seven student-athletes that saw significant time as starters last season and one (Jake Meredith) that was a starter prior to redshirting the 2011-12 season
• ASU made its living this year int the upper weight classes (174-HWT) where the four primary starters going a combined 88-34 on the season overall. Conversely, the lower weights finished the year 68-101 on the season
• The Sun Devils finished the season with a winning record over conference opponents for the second consecutive season, a feat that hadn't been accomplished since ASU did it through 13 straight seasons from 1994-2007
ESPN began airing wrestling championships in 1980, its first year as a network, and the sport continues to find a home on ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN3 and WatchESPN with full coverage of the First Round, Second Round, Quarterfinal, Semifinal, Medal Round and Final match from the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, March 21-23. ESPN networks' commitment to the championships extends through 2024 as the worldwide exclusive multi-media rights holder. The 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships begins with ESPN3's exclusive live coverage of the First and Second Rounds on Thursday, March 21 at noon and 7:30 p.m. ET. For the fifth year the multi-screen sports network will provide an exclusive four-screen, four-mat viewing experience unique to wrestling in the First, Second and Quarterfinal Rounds. The technology was introduced in 2008 in the Quarterfinals and has expanded as coverage has grown. A growing destination for avid fan viewing, the NCAA wrestling championships on ESPN3 was up 108 percent in live minutes consumed across computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox compared to 2011. For the seventh consecutive year, two of the four Quarterfinals, as well as the Semifinals, will be televised on ESPNU in a side-by-side format to maximize the HD viewing experience, allowing viewers to catch the action in two matches at the same time.During the Finals on ESPN Saturday, March 23 at 8 p.m., referees will wear a microphone, providing fans with even more access and understanding of the action.
LAST TIME OUT - Pac-12 Championships
The ASU wrestling team took third at the Pac-12 Wrestling Championships, hosted in Tempe, Ariz. Jake Meredith (197), Kevin Radford (184) and Blake Stauffer (174) all took runner-up finishes in the event. Additionally, Meredith was named the Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year for wrestling. Levi Cooper took third overall in the heavyweight division.
IN THE RANKINGS
Following strong finishes at the Las Vegas Invitational earlier this year, redshirt freshman Blake Stauffer (174) and redshirt senior Jake Meredith (197) rocketed up the rankings in all four of the primary ranking services and have stayed there consistently ever since. Both were awarded coveted seeded positions in this week's NCAA Championship as Meredith will be a nine-seed while Stauffer took the 11th seed. Meredith is ranked ninth in the nation, according to Amateur Wrestling News while Stauffer and Levi Cooper each find themselves in 18th. The three are all ranked in the top-20 nationally in all of the major ranking services.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION - NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Senior Jake Meredith received the highest seed for a Sun Devil as he will enter next weekend as the nation's No. 9 seed at 197 pounds. Meredith (26-7), the Pac-12 runner-up in the weight class, will take on Nikolas Brown (28-3) of Chattanooga in the opening round of competition. With a win, Meredith would advance to take on the winner of Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State) and No. 8 Micah Burak (Penn). Meredith defeated Campolattano at the Las Vegas Invitational earlier this season but was defeated by Burak in a 5-2 decision. A loss would pit Meredith against the loser of the above matchup. Redshirt freshman Blake Stauffer earned the tournament's No. 11 seed at 174 pounds. Stauffer (22-3) will square off with Matt Mougin (22-15) of Northern Illinois. From there, Stauffer will take on the winner or loser of the contest between Bryce Hammond (CSU Bakersfield) - who defeated Stauffer for the Pac-12 title - and Logan Storley of Minnesota, the tournament's No. 6 seed. At 184 pounds, redshirt sophomore Kevin Radford (21-13) drew Penn's Canaan Bethea (25-9) for this first-round match-up. Radford lost to Bethea earlier this season in a tough 5-4 decision. Based on the outcome of that bout, Radford will take on either top-seeded Ed Ruth of Penn State or Fred Garcia of Lock Haven. Finally, senior heavyweight Levi Cooper (22-10) will compete in his third and final NCAA Championship as he takes on No. 9 Zac Thomusseit (23-2) of Pitt in the opening round for a chance to take on Cleveland State's Riley Shaw or No. 8 Mike McClure of Michigan State.
A LOOK BACK - 2012 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Levi Cooper came just shy of another All-American performance, getting kncoked out just prior to the round of eight. With the performance, the Sun Devils earned two points and finished 56th overall.
JAKE AND BLAKE
The Sun Devils showed a great blend of veteran leadership and youthful talent in the season-opening weeks in senior Jake Meredith and redshirt freshman Blake Stauffer - who have combined for a 47-10 record this season and were 26-5 in dual meets this year. The two have combined for three pins and 21 bonus-point victories this year with Stauffer second on the team in dual points with 54 this year and Meredith hot on his heels with 49. Both posted third-place finishes at the Las Vegas Invitational and Meredith finds himself ranked in the top-10 by all ranking services this week with Stauffer in the top-13 across the board at 174 pounds. Pins and forfeits/defaults aside, Jake and Blake have outscored their opposition 349-145 on the season.
JAKE THE SNAKE
Senior Jake Meredith's performance this season is worthy of recognition as it can't go without noting that Meredith is not only coming back from a knee injury that kept him out of the 2011-12 season, but also moved up a weight class to 197 pounds this year. Meredith earned his 60th career win with his victory over Caleb Kolb against Nebraska and didn't suffer his first loss in dual competition until dropping a decision No. 7 Mikah Burak of Penn at the Stanford duals. Despite the loss, Meredith has established himself as one of the top defensive wrestlers in the country, giving up five or fewer points in 26 of his 32 matches thus far this season. That number would be 27 of 32, but Meredith ran out of injury time while defeating Cody Dixon of Boise State with 30 seconds left in that particular dual. Additionally, Meredith was named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year for wrestling.
CAN'T STOP STAUFFER
It is always nice to see a freshman doing well and there are few freshmen in the country doing as well as Blake Stauffer is this season. At 22-3 on the year , Stauffer has the highest winning percentage on the Sun Devils this season (.888). Last season, on a squad that had several impressive freshmen, Nathan Hoffer posted 20 wins over the entire season. That gives a good impression as to how well Stauffer has done this year despite missing nearly a month to injury. His six major decisions and nine bonus point victories each lead the squad and he came just shy of the team's High Point tally, finishing with 53 in dual matches this year.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE...HOME?
The Sun Devils improved to 5-1 with victories over Grand Canyon University and CSU Bakersfield in Phoenix two weekends ago in what was originally slated to be a home conference dual against the Roadrunners that was still technically a home dual, just at a different venue after the event had to be moved from Wells Fargo Arena to accomodate an ASU football game. As history has shown, it doesn't much matter where ASU wrestles as long as they are taking on an Arizona opponent in the state of Arizona, having posted a 69-9 record overall in such contests and winning 49 in a row following its victory against GCU.
HANGIN' WITH MR. COOPER
Levi Cooper had a strong start to his 2012-13 campaign, going 3-1 in the Carolinas with a victory over No. 11 Andrew Delaney of The Citadel. A member of the 80-win club, Cooper returns as one of just two seniors on the 2012-13 roster. Cooper earned his 80th victory in an upset over Boise State's No. 11 J.T. Felix, 6-0. Felix had beat Cooper earlier this season. With 28 bonus-point victories in his career, Cooper currently ranks 18th in the category in ASU history. Cooper heads to the weekend having won 12 of his last 15 matchups and finished as the team leader in dual victories and points scored.
FINDING HIS HOME
Levi Cooper's early career was not an easy one. The redshirt junior out of Hubbard, Ore., started as a freshman at Portland State in 2008, compiling an 11-15 record before the program was discontinued at the conclusion of the year. Cooper would go on to compete at CSU Bakersfield the following year but found himself transferring to Arizona State after redshirting his year with the Roadrunners. As a sophomore in 2011, Cooper burst onto the scene to the tune of an eighth-place All-America finish at the NCAA Championships and is the Sun Devils' lone returning All-American and one of just two seniors on the roster.
PRETTY RAD, DUDE
Kevin Radford bounced back from a season-opening loss against North Carolina to win five straight duals to open the season. Radford has placed at both the Las Vegas Invite and the Southern Scuffle this season. Radford is 21-13 on the season but has been competitive in several grueling matches, just falling short against Nebraska's No. 6 Josh Ihnen, 5-4, at the Las Vegas Invite and falling to No. 8 Mike Larson of Mizzou, 3-1, at the Southern Scuffle. Already at 20 wins this season, Radford has surpassed his win total from his NCAA qualifying freshman year last year. Radford was the only Sun Devil to pick up a victory against Oregon State and has now won four of his last five duals.
A look at ASU's probable starters heading into the season gives a pretty good indication as to why the Sun Devils didn't receive much love in the preseason rankings. This year's roster features 26 underclassmen (freshmen or sophomores) and just two upper classmen (seniors Levi Cooper and Jake Meredith).
Thus far this season, the Sun Devils have posted 10 tech fall victories. Codey Combs had three and Blake Stuaffer has two while five other Sun Devils are on the board in the category. It has provided shades of ASU all-time tech fall leader Anthony Robles through the early going and is notable as ASU posted just three tech fall victories in all of 2011-12.
Mention has already been made of the youth on this years team that features 26 underclassmen. In that group is a solid group of true and redshirt freshmen that will be looking to make their mark early in their careers here. Among them are redshirt freshmen Preston McCalmon (Lafeyette, Ga.), Alex Schmersahl (Centralia, Mo.) and Blake Stauffer (Neosho, Mo.) and the latter two are expected to be among the team starters to start the season. The freshmen list is more impressive and includes: Christiaan Allen (Gilbert, Ariz.), Luke Bean (Wichita, Kan.), Ares Carpio (Federal Way, Wash.), Codey Combs (Georgetown, Del.), Cord Coronado (Peoria, Ariz.), Luke DeLong (Geneva, Neb.), Matt Kraus (Imperial, Mo.), Tyler Liberatore (Tampa, Fla.), Brad Lindsay (Flagstaff, Ariz.), Parker Madl (Stilwel, Kan.), Joshua Morin (Great Falls, Mont.), Ray Waters (Chicago, Ill.) and Trevor Willson (Oro Valley, Ariz.)
Just two individuals on the roster are entering their final seasons in the Maroon and Gold. The list includes 2011 All-American Levi Cooper and 2011 Pac-12 Champion Jake Merideth. Both will be celebrating their final home competition on Friday.
The 2011-12 season will see the addition of two additional coaches with Lee Pritts joining the staff as an assistant coach, replacing Travis Pascoe, while former Sun Devil All-American and current UFC fighter Aaron Simpson has joined the staff in a volunteer assistant coaching role.
A LOOK BACK: 2012 Season
The Sun Devils earned two points courtesy of heavyweight Levi Cooper and finished 56th overall at the 2012 NCAA Championships in St Louis. Outside of Cooper, the Sun Devils were represented by three freshmen in Shane McGough (133), Nathan Hoffer (141) and Kevin Radford (184). Those three were the lone frosh out of the Pac-12 Conference to advance to the NCAA Championships. The Sun Devils were fourth at the Pac-12 Championships with 102.5 points. The team also downed a ranked opponent for the first time since 2006 with a victory over #20 Penn at the Northeast Duals early in the season.