The mood was calm and upbeat around the ASU wrestling team this week after being just days removed from a near home shutout in the hands of No. 2 Oklahoma State.
ASU wrestling coach Shawn Charles isn’t surprised his athletes have stayed positive despite dropping their last four duals.
“I think we are staying positive, because we have a good environment here,” he said. “As an outsider looking in, it might not look like we are going in the right direction. But the environment is good, because we have the right kids in our program who are doing the right things in the classroom and in the community.”
This week, the Sun Devils (7-9) hit the road again for a Friday night dual against Iowa State.
The Sun Devils will catch a break with the return of 197-pound redshirt senior No. 11 Jake Meredith to the lineup.
Meredith sat out the past weekend with a concussion, so Charles is going to keep an eye on the former Pac-10 champion.
“We are going to take a look at him to see where he’s at as far as his conditioning level and timing are at,” Charles said. “We don’t want to put him out there too early and get him re-injured though.”
Although Meredith returns, 174-pound redshirt freshman No. 5 Blake Stauffer remains out with a neck injury.
Stauffer, redshirt sophomore Nathan Hoffer and freshmen Codey Combs and Trevor Willson are the starters who are currently out with injury.
Charles says the injury misfortune has left his squad exposed during this tough stretch.
“The whole season, there hasn’t been any secrets,” he said. “We’ve been relying on our upper weights to carry the program, and when we have our top-ranked guys in the country not in our lineup, it makes it very difficult for us to win duals.”
Because of the injuries, four true freshmen have entered the starting lineup.
Although they haven’t been successful, Charles likes the direction they’ve been moving.
“I am seeing improvement,” he said. “I am seeing confidence being built.”
As for the weekend, Charles thinks his guys match up well against the Cyclones (5-3).
He’s confident in his heavyweight wrestlers’ ability to win, leaving the lightweights as the key to snapping the losing skid.
“For us to win the dual, we have to get a couple victories under our belt from 125 pounds to 157 pounds,” Charles said. “If we do that, we will be in a good position to win.”
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org