ASU wrestling set for only home dual vs. Oklahoma State

After spending the entire season on the road, redshirt sophomore Kevin Radford is a little bit excited for the ASU wrestling team’s only home dual of the season.

“It will be nice to relax and sleep in our own beds this weekend, but it won’t change anything,” Radford said.

The return home doesn’t come without a price, however, as the Sun Devils (7-8) welcome No. 2 Oklahoma State (10-0) to Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday.

The Cowboys are nothing new for Radford, as he faced off against No. 12 senior Chris Chionuma earlier this season at the Southern Scuffle and fell 9-3.

This time, Radford is hoping to avenge his loss to Chionuma and is ready for the challenge.

“I’m going to have change the little things and keep up the pressure on him,” Radford said.

Redshirt senior heavyweight No. 18 Levi Cooper is also thrilled about the opportunity to wrestle the Cowboys, who boast eight ranked wrestler including a pair of No. 1 ranked grab grapplers.

“It’s exciting,” Cooper said. “You don’t get these opportunities very often, so when you get the opportunity to wrestle a team this good, you have to seize the opportunity and compete your best.”

Cooper has come on strong has lately, but the Sun Devils overall have struggled, losing four of their past five duals.

Cooper believes the dual is a chance for the Sun Devils to get back on track as they head into the stretch of the season.

“We’ve had some tough duals recently, and some of it has stemmed from guys not going out and competing as hard as we would like them to, so obviously we have to fix that,” Cooper said. “We have to come in here the last five weeks before the Pac-12s and try and get better on a daily basis.”

The Sun Devils could potentially be without four of their starters come Sunday, though.

Redshirt freshman No. 11 Blake Stauffer and redshirt senior No. 5 Jake Meredith, who arguably have been the Sun Devils best wrestlers, are both questionable with injuries.

ASU coach Shawn Charles believes the injury bug has caused the Sun Devils’ recent struggles and could be a huge factor Sunday.

“The issue has been not having a majority of our starters in the lineup,” Charles said. “Forty percent of the guys wrestling for us right now are backups or true freshmen pulled out of their redshirt year to fill some spots.”

An advantage for the Sun Devils this week could be a friendly crowd.

“We need a lot of energy and for them to stay behind us, and we will wrestle hard,” Radford said.

 

Reach the reporter at dsshapi1@asu.edu