Former national champion Eric Larkin returns to the Arizona State University wrestling program's coaching staff for his third year on the bench and will once again work with the wrestlers in the lower weight classes in 2006-07. Larkin, the 2003 NCAA Division I National Champion at 149 pounds, also was a four-time All-American (one of only four in Sun Devil wrestling history) and four-time Pac-10 Champion while competing for the Sun Devils and has gone on to move up the U.S. Senior Freestyle rankings since his graduation from ASU in 2003.
Working with the lower-weights, Larkin played an instrumental role in helping Brian Stith (157 pounds) to great success over the past two years. In Stith's sophomore season (2004-05), Larkin helped the 157-pound competitor defeat defending NCAA and Pac-10 Champion Matt Gentry (Stanford) for the 2003 Pac-10 crown before finishing fifth nationally to earn his first All-America honor. One year later (2005-06), Larkin helped Stith to another solid national performance as the No. 10 seed advanced to the finals before earning his second All-America honor by finishing as the national runner-up. Larkin will also have the opportunity to mold several younger Sun Devils starting this season, including Shawn Jones (125), a four-time Idaho state champion, and returning starters Pat Payne (141) and Jason Robbins (149).
Standing sixth on the all-time wins list at ASU with 123, Larkin accomplished several feats that no other Sun Devil had, including being honored with the 2003 Dan Hodge Award and being selected as the Outstanding Wrestler of the 2003 NCAA meet following a perfect 34-0 record in his senior campaign. Prior to winning the NCAA title, Larkin made an impressive improvement over the course of his career finishing fourth (133) as a freshman, third as a sophomore (141) and second as a junior (141).
Larkin also dominated the conference to become the second Sun Devil to win four titles in the Pac-10. For his efforts, he was selected as the Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year in 2001, 2002 and 2003 while also receiving the Pac-10 Medal of Honor in 2003. He also was nominated for the 2003 ESPY Award for Best Collegiate Male Athlete.
Along with his numerous awards in the national and conference settings, Larkin has added success to his international career as well. At the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, he entered the meet as the No. 3 seed at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and defeated the No. 6 and No. 2 wrestlers to advance to the challenger finals. In the final, he fell just shy as he dropped a 4-3 decision. Larkin also finished third at the 2000 trials event. Most recently, Larkin won the Sunkist Kids/ASU International Open in 2005 at 66kg for his first title on his home mats outside the collegiate ranks. He followed that with a second-place showing in 2006 where he was ranked No. 6 in the national rankings and defeated the No. 4-ranked wrestler in Chris Bono in the semifinals.
A native of Tucson and a 1998 graduate of Sunnyside High School, Larkin was a two-time state champion with a 130-2 record. The 1998 Arizona Wrestler of the year, Larkin went 38-0 as a senior and added several national junior titles to his list of accolades.
Larkin, who earned his degree from ASU in BIS in 2003, and his wife, Melissa, reside in Tempe with their three sons, Kaden (4), Kaleb (3) and Kyler (1).