Feb. 8, 2013
TEMPE - The Arizona State University wrestling team will be back on the road this weekend as the squad heads north to take on Oregon State in a Pac-12 Conference dual in Corvallis, Ore., on Feb. 9. The Sun Devils are 2-1 in conference action and would be looking at a tie for first in the conference with a victory over the Beavers. Oregon State enters the weekend ranked No. 9 nationally and is 8-3 on the year and 3-1 in conference action. The dual is slated to get underway at 1 p.m. PT at the Gill Coliseum and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
• The Sun Devils play host the 2012 Pac-12 Championships this year in Tempe, Ariz., on March 2
• ASU returns 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
• The Sun Devils have just two upperclassmen on this year’s roster in Jake Meredith and Levi Cooper, both redshirt seniors. The other 26 student-athletes on the roster are all freshmen or sophomores
• The Sun Devil team has been depleted by injuries in recent weeks and will likely start just four preseason starters on Saturday
Saturday’s contest will be the second dual of the season that will be broadcast nationally on the Pac-12 Networks. J.B. Long and Ken Chertow will be on the call. Check your local listings for the Pac-12 Networks channel in your area. Live stats will be available through TrackWrestling on the day of the event.
LAST TIME OUT - IOWA STATE
The ASU squad dropped their fifth consecutive contest last Friday to Iowa State in Ames, Iowa by a score of 23-18. The Sun Devils (7-10, 2-1 Pac-12) got off to a decent start, scoring decision victories from Jake Meredith dropped a 9-1 major decision to #8 Kyven Gadson at 197 pounds and Ryak Finch pinned Dalton Miller in the 125-pound matchup to seal the deal.
IN THE RANKINGS
Following strong finishes at the Las Vegas Invitational, redshirt freshman Jake Meredith (197) rocketed up the rankings in all four of the primary ranking services and have stayed there consistently ever since. This week, four Sun Devils are ranked in most of the services - a far cry from 2012 where ASU had just one wrestler ranked all season. Meredith finds himself in the top 10 in the rankings in all four ranking services, peaking at No. 5 this week by W.I.N. Magazine. Stauffer was unranked by just about everyone prior to Vegas and now finds himself no lower than 12th in any ranking service. Levi Cooper (HWT) is also both ranked in the top-25 in most services this week.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION - OREGON STATE
The ASU vs OSU series is currently tied at 17-17 after 34 meetings, meaning Saturday’s match-up will act as the tie breaker at least for one year. The two schools first met in 1970 and the Beavers have won six straight against ASU dating back to 2007. OSU features five wrestlers ranked in th top 20 by Amateur Wrestling News in a list that includes No. 3 Michael Mangrum at 141, No. 11 Scott Sakaguchi at 149, No. 8 R.J. Pena at 157, No. 6 Taylor Meeks at 197 and No. 4 Chad Hanke at heavyweight. Saturday’s heavyweight matchup featuring Hanke and No. 18 Levi Cooper could be the match of the night.
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 42-8 record this season and are 24-5 in dual meets this year. Both have two pins competition with Stauffer second on the team in dual points with 49 this year and Meredith hot on his heels with 43. Stauffer has missed a couple weekends to injury, however, and is questionable for Saturday’s dual. 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. The two accounted for 16 bonus point wins this season. Pins and forfeits/defaults aside, Jake and Blake have outscored their opposition 310-129 on the season.
JAKE THE SNAKE
Senior Jake Meredith’s performance this season earns him a little more pub this week 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 22 of his 28 matches thus far this season. That number would be 23 of 28, but Meredith ran out of injury time while defeating Cody Dixon of Boise State with 30 seconds left in that particular dual.
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 20-2 on the year , Stauffer has the highest winning percentage on the Sun Devils this season (909). 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 just past the midway mark in this season. His five major decisions and eight bonus point victories each lead the squad and he is slowly running away with the team High Point tally, now up to 49 in dual matches this year. Stauffer will unfortunately miss this weekend due to injury, however, and will not get a chance to add to those numbers.
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 70th 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 following a 14-6 major decision over John Gusewelle of North Dakota State at the Virginia Duals, Cooper currently ranks 18th in the category in ASU history. Cooper heads to the weekend having won nine of his last 10 matchups and is currently 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 14-9 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 18 wins this season, Radford has matched his win total from his NCAA qualifying freshman year last year.
FINE TOOTH COMBS
Much ado has been made about redshirt freshman Blake Stauffer this season but another redshirt freshman, Codey Combs, has quietly been leaving his mark as well. Combs is 10-2 in duals this season and falls only behind Stauffer in winning percentage as far as duals are concerned. He is 11-6 overall and leads the team with three tech falls thus far this season. His 48 points in duals this year is second on the team. The Georgetown, Del., native is slowly giving ASU some oomph in the middle weights this year, an area that ASU has struggled at times with in the past couple seasons.
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 Jake Meredith). However, unlike last year’s squad, several of the team’s current sophomores earned valuable experience in 2011-12 as starters with the core group of freshmen (Dalton Miller, Shane McGough, Nathan Hoffer, Joel Smith and Kevin Radford) combining for an overall record of 74-62 on the year. Injuries have forced several Sun Devils into the fire earlier than expected this year and ASU’s current frosh have posted a 49-58 overall record thus far this season, led by 174-pounder Blake Stauffer’s 20-2 record to start the year.
Thus far this season, the Sun Devils have posted 10 tech fall victories and have given up just three. 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 Matt Kraus (Imperial, Mo.), 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.
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.