ASU wrestling looks to avenge last season’s loss to Boise State in Pac-12 opener

In a match against Utah Valley University on Saturday, Jan. 18, ASU's Joel Smith grapples with his opponent to gain the upper hand. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

In a match against Utah Valley University on Saturday, Jan. 18, ASU’s Joel Smith grapples with his opponent to gain the upper hand. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

With Boise State dropping out of the top 25 after last week’s loss to North Dakota State, ASU wrestling’s Pac-12 opener versus the Broncos in Tempe becomes even more significant.

It’s not only the conference opener for the Sun Devils (5-5), but also presents the opportunity for the winner Friday night to enter the national rankings. Both ASU and Boise State received 16 votes in the poll.

ASU coach Shawn Charles said he believes the Sun Devils will compete with the rest of the Pac-12.

“I think we match up well with a lot of schools in our own conference,” Charles said. “As far as where we’re tough, they’re tough. As far as where they’re weak, I think we’re weak.”

ASU is not protecting a 2-0 Pac-12 record like last season, but a win for either team could have a critical impact on recruiting and the future of both programs, as the event will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks at 5 p.m. MST.

Look for one of these teams to start out fast, but don’t put much stock in such a streak. ASU got out to a 7-0 lead at Taco Bell Arena and was shut out for the rest of the meet, as Boise State proceeded to trounce the Sun Devils in the upper weight classes with 33 straight unanswered points.

Boise State will be without Jason Chamberlain, No. 2 in the nation last year, but seniors J.T. Felix (285) and Cody Dixon (197) are poised to wreak havoc again against ASU.

Countering the Bronco heavyweights are sophomore Roy Waters (174) and redshirt sophomore Blake Stauffer (184), the anchors of the Sun Devil wrestling team coming off solid performances against Utah Valley and Northern Colorado last Saturday.

At 125, sophomore Ares Carpio is expected to step up. After a disappointing 23-7 tech fall last year to Brian Owen (while wrestling at 133), Carpio will try to flip the script this time and continue his successful start this year.

ASU coach Shawn Charles said the Sun Devils can’t give up in their matches.

“Our lightweight guys need to step up their game,” Charles said to thesundevils.com. “From 125 to 157 in both duals, our guys are getting beaten and giving up falls.”

Perhaps the added pressure on Carpio and sophomores Kalin Goodsite (133) and Matt Kraus (144) will act as motivation and fuel for the veterans to lead the younger wrestlers this time around.

The coach opposite Charles presents a challenge to the Sun Devils. In 11 seasons, Boise State coach Greg Randall has a career record of 102-41-1 finishing ninth overall in the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2011.

ASU is no stranger to NCAA success under the leadership of Charles, having reached nationals, carried by All-American and eventual national champion Anthony Robles.

It’s not a stretch to imagine these two teams meeting again in the Pac-12 Tournament for a berth in the NCAA Tournament at Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City, and perhaps even on the national stage.

Whether or not these future matchups will occur will be revealed in time, but this Friday is sure to be as compelling a Pac-12 opener as ever.

Reach the reporter at smodrich@asu.edu or on Twitter @modrich_22