The ASU men’s wrestling team will begin their first season without its Jimmy V Award Winner, Anthony Robles, for the first time since the 2007 season. Robles will instead be on the sidelines as a volunteer coach and help with the rebuilding process of the team.
The team features 26 underclassmen and only two upperclassmen this year, but stands with a 3-1 record.
Kevin Radford, a redshirt sophomore, was able to experience the team in Roble’s senior year. As one of the top freshmen last year, putting up a 16-10 record, Radford looks to continue his success while adding leadership to his game.
“Anthony led a lot by example,” Radford says. “He wasn’t really a vocal leader, but the way he dominated on the mat really led us to success.”
Even with the wave of freshmen and sophomores, the team does have needed experience from senior Levi Cooper.
“I’m not the most vocal guy ever, so I hope to lead by example this year,” Cooper says. “However, I’m not afraid to say something if something needs to be said, and I am just going to try to give the younger guys as much guidance and wisdom as I can.”
Cooper was the runner-up in the Pac-12 championship last season for ASU, after bouncing between Cal State University at Bakersfield and Portland State University in his early college years.
After spending a year at each school, Cooper found a new home in Tempe. As a redshirt sophomore, Cooper was named an All-American while earning a 27-12 record.
Compared to his first two years at CS Bakerfield and Portland State, Cooper’s winning percentage jumped from 47 percent to 69 percent in his first year as a Sun Devil.
This year will bring along challenges and obstacles for the wrestling team, but with Robles NCAA Champion experience and Cooper’s emergence as a leader on this team, this group can bring a young and explosive arsenal of wrestlers to any team in the country.
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