Wrestlers trek to Nebraska hungry for upset

Redshirt sophomore 184-pound wrestler Kevin Radford (right) tries to wrap up teammate redshirt senior Jake Meredith during the Sun Devils’ Maroon and Gold Wrestle-Offs on Oct. 26.

(Photo by Kyle Newman)

Normally, a week before finals, college students are at peak stress levels.

The ASU wrestling team is just the opposite, feeling calm and loose before its final dual meet of the calendar year against No. 9 Nebraska.

“I think these guys are starting to enjoy the fact they get to go out there and compete,” ASU coach Shawn Charles said.

The trip up to Lincoln will be the Sun Devils’ (5-1) third away visit in the last four weeks, but redshirt sophomore Kevin Radford thinks that serves as an advantage over the favored Cornhuskers (4-1).

“It’s less pressure because you don’t have to compete in front of your home crowd,” Radford said.

The Sun Devils and the Cornhuskers already faced off four times this season at last weekend’s Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, with the teams taking two decisions each.

Radford accounted for one of the losses, losing a heartbreaking match to tournament No. 1 senior Josh Ihnen 5-4 in the 184-pound weight. Radford said he is ready for the rematch and to make the adjustments necessary to earn a victory.

“I have to go out there and wrestle hard for seven minutes,” Radford said. “I can’t stop and take breaks.”

Charles also believes Radford is on Ihnen’s level and has the tools necessary to win.

“(Radford’s) going to have to make sure he wrestles hard for seven minutes,” Charles said. “If he does that for us, he will get his hand raised.”

Redshirt freshman Blake Stauffer finished in third place in the 174-pound weight class last weekend, but missed out on facing Nebraska’s tournament No. 1 Robert Kokesh, who won the tournament.

This weekend, Stauffer will go head-to-head with the redshirt sophomore.

“I got to watch him wrestle a little bit last week,” Stauffer said. “I’m excited to get the opportunity to wrestle him this weekend.”

The two teams also faced off last year, and the Cornhuskers shut out the Sun Devils 42-0.

Charles remembers the result, but knows that this is a different year and noted that the lightweights will be an x-factor.

“Our lighter weight guys need to go out there and elevate their game a bit,” Charles said. “We need some wins from those guys.”

Charles ultimately knows that if his team sticks to its plan, it has a good chance to reverse last year’s result and pull off the upset.

“We just have to go out there and wrestle the Sun Devil way,” Charles said. “We have a specific style here at Arizona State, and if our guys go out there and wrestle the way they train, we will be able to go out there and close that gap and come out victorious.”

 

Reach the reporter at dsshapi1@asu.edu.