In its first-ever trip to Texas, the ASU wrestling team swept all three opponents and won the 475th dual in the program’s history.The No. 23 Sun Devils (7-4) defeated Harvard (2-4-1), Air Force (2-5) and previously undefeated Utah Valley (5-1) Saturday at the Lone Star Duals in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Five Sun Devils finished the day without a loss, and the team finished with an overall record of 23-7.
“This is one of the first matches where they went out there and actually were going through a lot of the positions that we practice in the room,” ASU coach Shawn Charles said. “As a coach that means they are starting to believe in our system, believe in our process and starting to get confident in what we’re doing on a day to day basis.”
The 39-12 win over Harvard included five pins and one technical fall.
The victory over Air Force was even more dominant, with the Falcons’ only victory coming by forfeit at the 197-pound weight class.
ASU then finished the day with a 27-15 over Utah Valley.
Junior Anthony Robles (125), junior Ben Ashmore (133), junior Chris Drouin (141), sophomore Vincente Varela (149) and senior Erik Nye (285) won all of their three matches.
The early victories by Robles, Ashmore, Drouin and Varela gave ASU early and commanding leads.
“It’s huge. You get a lot of momentum built up,” Charles said. “Once we get it to 157, we’re ahead by so many points, it really builds a head of steam for us.”
Varela’s improvement throughout the year has added to an already potent 1-2-3 punch.
“Vicente works hard,” Drouin said. “He is starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think you’ve seen the best Varela yet.”
Over winter break, the team competed against several nationally ranked opponents and also added a win within the Pac-10.
The Sun Devils placed fourth in the last tournament of 2009 at the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 20.
Robles placed second in his weight class, followed by a fourth-place finish for Nye (285), two fifth-place finishes for Drouin and Varela and a sixth-place finish for sophomore Eric Starks (174).
The New Year brought about another conference victory, with a 25-13 win over Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 3.
A pin by Ashmore in the fifth match of the day gave the Sun Devils a 16-6 lead, and consecutive victories by Varela and sophomore Michael Swigart (157) put the Roadrunners away to give ASU a 3-0 record in the Pac-10.
Then the team traveled to the wrestling heartland of Iowa and competed in the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals in Cedar Falls on Jan. 9, but the Sun Devils lost two consecutive matches to top-20 opponents.
No. 3 Ohio State dominated 32-7 in the opener, but Drouin notched a big victory when he upset top-ranked Reece Humphrey.
“The equation was right for that match,” Drouin said.
The consolation bracket matched ASU against No. 18 Wisconsin, and five straight losses from 133 pounds to 165 pounds gave the Badgers a 23-10 victory.
“After losing to Ohio State, we looked a little flat,” Charles said. “We competed hard, but we just didn’t have that same competitive edge that we brought to the table when we wrestled Ohio State.”
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