Feb. 28, 2013
TEMPE - The Arizona State University wrestling team will host the Pac-12 Championships on Saturday, March 2 at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz. The annual event will welcome five other teams in addition to the Sun Devils as the squads duke it out for conference bragging rights as well as individual bids to the NCAA Championships. The first round of events will begin at 10:30 a.m. MT with the semifinals immediately following that. The arena will then be cleared following the conclusion of the semifinals until the next round, the consolation semifinals, which will begin at 3:30 p.m. The placement matches will all take place beginning at 5 p.m., preceded by the grand march and team introductions.
• The Sun Devils play host the 2013 Pac-12 Championships this year in Tempe, Ariz., on March 2
• ASU returns six 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 will be competing with its primary starting line-up for the just the second time after losing the majority of the squad the injury in the month prior to the Cal Poly dual
• ASU made its living this year in duals from the upper weight classes (165-HWT) where the five wrestlerswith the primary starters going a combined 64-18 on the season in duals. Conversely, the lower weights finished the year 30-41 in dual competition
• The Sun Devils finished the season with a winning record over conference opponents, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since ASU did it through 13 straight seasons from 1994-2007
• The Sun Devils have won 16 of the 34 Pac-12 Championships that have been decided since the team joined the conference in the late 70s
Coverage of the championship finals will be broadcast live through the Pac-12 Networks beginning at 5 p.m. MT. Rich Burk and Ken Chertow will provide the call. Fans with access to the Pac-12 Networks through their local cable or satellite provider, but who won’t have access to a television may tune in to www.Pac12.com for coverage. For those without access to the Pac-12 Networks, the Arizona State University sports information staff will be providing a live blog from each mat throughout the course of the day that will also serve as the live coverage from Tempe prior to the broadcast that evening. Arizona State will also be providing updated brackets following each round. All of this will be available through the Wrestling homepage at www.TheSunDevils.com
LAST TIME OUT - CAL POLY
The Arizona State University wrestling team (8-11, 3-2 Pac-12) went out with a bang in their final home dual of the 2012-2013 season with a dominant performance over the Cal Poly Mustangs, taking the 38-3 victory on the evening. No. 8-ranked senior Jake Meredith made sure to leave his mark with Sun Devil fans, finishing up the dual with a pin over Cal Poly’s JT Goodwin in 1:16 in the final home dual of his career. Meredith finished his 2013 regular season with a record of 23-6 and 71-47 in his Sun Devil career. Heavyweight Levi Cooper, the second senior on the young ASU squad, won his match by forfeit Friday night. Cooper, a standout at 285 pounds, closed his regular season career with a 20-10 record and 82-50 in his overall Sun Devil career. The youth of the Sun Devils showed their strengths as well, going 7-1 against the Mustangs.
IN THE RANKINGS
Following strong finishes at the Las Vegas Invitational earlier this year, 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 five ranking services, peaking at No. 8 this week by W.I.N. Magazine. Stauffer was unranked by just about everyone prior to Vegas and now finds himself no lower than 13th in any ranking service. Additionally, he has the nation’s No. 4 RPI, according to the NCAA. Levi Cooper (HWT) is also ranked in the top-20 in most services this week and is as high as No. 12 (W.I.N.) while Kevin Radford also earned some love in a couple of the rankings.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION - PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Sun Devils are hosting the conference championships for the first time since 2004 and just the third time since 1997. Arizona State was fifth the last time it hosted a Pac-10/12 Championships but was the team champion in 1997. The Sun Devils have won 16 of the 34 conference championships contested since the program joined the league during the 1978-79 season. Oregon State enters the weekend as the defending champions and winners of three of the last six conference championships. They are currently ranked No. 9 in the nation while Boise State comes in at No. 19. The weekend will feature 23 student-athletes ranked in the top 33 nationally according to the third and final Coaches Rankings released on Thursday.
A LOOK BACK - 2012 PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Arizona State University wrestling team took fourth at the 2012 Pac-12 Wrestling Championships in Boise, Idaho. Junior heavyweight Levi Cooper was the lone Sun Devils finalist, taking second overall at Taco Bell Arena on Sunday. The Sun Devils competed eight freshmen at the conference championship – the most of any team in the competition. Arizona State totaled 102.5 points, finishing behind third-place Stanford’s 125 and runner-up and host Boise State’s 129. Oregon State was the team champion with 138 points.
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 44-8 record this season and are 26-5 in dual meets this year. The two have combined for three pins and 20 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 324-129 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 23 of his 29 matches thus far this season. That number would be 24 of 29, 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 21-2 on the year , Stauffer has the highest winning percentage on the Sun Devils this season (.913). 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 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 10 of his last 11 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 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 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 seven of his last 10 duals.
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 finished 11-2 in duals this season and fell only behind Stauffer in winning percentage as far as duals are concerned. He is 12-6 overall and leads the team with three tech falls thus far this season. His 51 points in duals this year were third 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 53-62 overall record thus far this season, led by 174-pounder Blake Stauffer’s 21-2 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 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.), Cord Coronado (Peoria, Ariz.), Matt Kraus (Imperial, Mo.), Brad Lindsay (Flagstaff, Ariz.), 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.