If redshirt sophomore wrestler Kevin Radford needed a little extra motivation to start the 2012-13 season, he didn’t have to look far to find it.
“It’s going home for me, so I’m excited to show the crowd how much better I’ve gotten and make my family and high school proud,” Radford said.
Radford headlines a group of 13 wrestlers ASU will send to the Carolinas this weekend for duels against North Carolina, Bloomsburg, Campbell and The Citadel.
Coach Shawn Charles said that Radford, along with the rest of the wrestlers, are eager to get back on the mat.
“Everyone’s really excited,” Charles said. “They’ve been beating each other up for the past couple of months, and now they finally get a chance to get out there and see where their technical skills are at. The guys are pumped.”
The Sun Devils will open the season Friday against the Tar Heels, who finished two spots ahead of the Sun Devils in last year’s NCAA championships.
The Sun Devils lead the all-time series 2-0-1, and North Carolina only boasts one ranked wrestler in 141-pound sophomore No. 19 Evan Henderson.
ASU will then wrestle in duals Saturday against both Bloomsburg and Campbell.
In the two teams’ last meeting in 2007, Bloomsburg knocked off the Sun Devils 29-13.
The Huskies are led by 157-pound senior No. 6 Frank Hickman and 197-pound junior No. 14 Richard Perry, who will provide strong early tests for ASU freshman Codey Combs and senior Jake Meredith, respectively.
The Sun Devils have never wrestled Campbell, but the Fighting Camels earned four individual victories at last weekend’s The Citadel Open.
The Sun Devils will then finish off the opening weekend against The Citadel, who saw 141-pound redshirt freshman Undrakhbayar Khishignyam earn an upset victory last weekend to propel him to No. 20 in the country.
The Citadel redshirt senior heavyweight No.11 Odie Delaney will provide ASU heavyweight senior No. 8 Levi Cooper with a tough opening test.
Although the Sun Devils have an expansive weekend, Charles said his team has a very simple approach.
“All of the teams have individuals that are very tough,” Charles said. “They all have top-notch wrestlers in their programs, so we aren’t going to focus on only one team. We have to go one match at a time.”
The opening weekend should also provide the Sun Devils, who are unranked for the second time since the 2008-09 season, a good chance to bolster their reputation.
“The season is long and tough, so this is a great opportunity for our guys to harden themselves before the Pac-12 meet and the NCAA tournament,” Charles said.
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