Heading into the Virginia Duals last season, the ASU wrestling team was 5-5 and coming off a home loss to rival Oregon State.
This year, the Sun Devils are 6-4, undefeated in Pac-12 competition and fresh off a dominating victory over Stanford.
The Sun Devils did suffer two loses at the Stanford Duals, but coach Shawn Charles believes his team only needs to work on the little things from this point out.
“For us, it’s more about tightening up our game and being more disciplined in how we want to wrestle,” Charles said.
Redshirt freshman Blake Stauffer and redshirt senior Jake Meredith, who make up the “Blake and Jake Show,” and have led the Sun Devils all season long. They lead them in their opening round matchup against North Dakota State.
Stauffer, 17-5 on the season and the No. 11 wrestler in the 174-pound weight class, went 3-0 at the Stanford Duals last week and upset Rutgers No. 10 Greg Zannetti in the process.
He admits, though, that the toil of the road is starting to get to him in his first full season of competition.
“I’m definitely starting to feel the grind of the season right about now,” Stauffer said.
Meredith is 19-3 on the season and is the No. 6 wrestler in the 197-pound weight class and wants to make the trip worth the commute.
“I’m not really too excited to fly back there, but I love competing, so you have to do what you have to do,” Meredith said.
Meredith knows that as one of only two seniors on the team, it is his duty to lead by example.
“I try to come in and work hard every day,” Meredith said. “Everyone wants to win and nobody wants to lose, so hopefully everyone will follow suit.”
North Dakota State (2-4) should provide a good challenge for the Sun Devils, who earned the No. 8 seed in the National College Division of the dual.
The Bison knocked off Pac-12 wrestling opponent Boise State 24-15 earlier this season
The toughest challenge from NDS will be No. 6 junior 165-pound Steven Monk. Twice this season Monk was awarded Western Wrestling Conference Wrestler of the Week.
Charles said his team will be ready come Friday, expecially since the team is now healthy.
“It’s going to be a tough dual,” Charles said. “We went into our last dual with three of our starters out, so it was really hard to win, but we are going to go into the Virginia Duals as the same Sun Devils everyone sees. We are going to go out there and battle hard and wrestle hard.”
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