Maybe the ASU wrestling team should consider horse breaking as a profession as it broke down the Cal Poly Broncos 38-3 Friday on Senior Night.
Then again, there isn’t too much of a point in beating a dead horse. The Broncos have lost their last five straight matches, and their last two by a combined score of 93-3.
The convincing victory was due in large part to the return of three wrestlers who had missed significant time: redshirt sophomore Nathan Hoffer, freshman Codey Combs and redshirt freshman Blake Stauffer.
“We’ve been struggling all year with injuries and sicknesses, just all kinds of stuff, so it was just exciting coming in to this week knowing that all of our A-team guys are back in there,” ASU coach Shawn Charles said.
Hoffer, Combs and Stauffer all won their matches 14-4, 10-7 and 14-0, respectively, contributing a total of 11 of the team’s 38 points.
The only Sun Devil to lose a match was at 125 pounds. Redshirt sophomore Dalton Miller dropped a 7-3 decision to Cal Poly sophomore Britain Longmire.
ASU senior Jake Meredith also returned to action on Senior Night after missing the Sun Devils’ last match against Oregon State due to a concussion.
Meredith’s last match couldn’t have come with a better ending as he pinned Broncos freshman J.T. Goodwin in a little over a minute to cap off a stellar senior campaign.
“Honestly, I wasn’t really looking for a pin necessarily. I just wanted to go out and put on a good show for the fans,” Meredith said.
The night wasn’t quite as sweet for fellow senior Levi Cooper, who won his match by forfeit.
“I was a little bit disappointed about that,” said Cooper about not getting to wrestle. “I would have liked to go out like Jake (Meredith) did and, you know, get to wrestle and win a match one last time.”
Charles descried the moment as “bittersweet.”
“It’s always emotional when you have guys that you’ve been around that you’re bleeding with, you’re sweating with, you spend a lot of time with them and to see them move on to the next phase of their lives, but it’s also exciting.” Charles said.
The season isn’t over just yet for the Sun Devils. ASU hosts Pac-12 championships coming up in two weeks at Wells Fargo Arena on March 2.
At 8-11 now, the Sun Devils may seem like a long shot to win a Pac-12 title, but with a majority of the team’s regular starters returning, ASU could be very much in the hunt.
“We weren’t in a position to do as well as we wanted or expected with some of our better wrestlers out of the lineup, but now that they’re back in the lineup, we’ve got this new energy, this new confidence in what we can do and what this team is capable of doing,” Charles said. “We’re excited about the Pac-12s.”
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