ASU wrestling coach Shawn Charles points out holes in ranking system

Leading up to ASU wrestling’s matches against Cal Poly and CSU Bakersfield on Feb. 14 and 16, ASU wrestling coach Shawn Charles said he isn’t pleased with how some coaches are strategically sitting their wrestlers to keep their high rankings.

Charles explained the significance of individual wrestler rankings as opposed to the overall conference standings.

“The standings aren’t really that big of a deal, as much as where each kid is ranked individually,” Charles said. “That determines who he is going to wrestle in the first and second rounds of the tournament, which could impact his chances of getting to the finals.”

 
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These rankings are not foolproof, and coaches can manipulate them by choosing to sit out their ranked wrestlers in order to minimize risk of falling to a lower seed.

Charles expressed his concerns about the disturbing trend.

“In particular, (redshirt senior Jake) Swartz from Boise State,” Charles said. “He hasn’t wrestled in a long time, even though we wrestled against one of their guys. I would argue that because he missed the opportunity to compete against us, he shouldn’t be ranked above us come tournament time.”

Redshirt sophomore No. 18 Blake Stauffer (184) has seen many ranked opponents suddenly become late scratches when scheduled to face him in dual meets.

“It’s not fair, because a lot of coaches will argue on their end that, ‘Well, he never beat him head to head, and we’re ranked higher than him,’ and that’s terrible,” Charles said. “We have to change that mentality. What is the benefit of wrestling duals if we’re doing this to seed our guys for the tournament, and to keep your guy ranked, you don’t wrestle him?”

Charles did not expect either of Cal Poly or CSU Bakersfield to try similar strategies in their matches, but he pointed out a glaring dilemma in the current ranking system.

“It’s all about matchups, and you want to pair your best matchup you possibly can to get your desired outcome,” Charles said. “It’s silly that you can have a guy ranked high and then sit him out all year. That wouldn’t happen in football and basketball, so why does it happen in our sport? There has to be a reward system for guys that go out and wrestle and put their record out on the line throughout the season, and right now we don’t have that in place.”

Additional notes:

– The Sun Devils will likely use the same lineup as they have throughout the season, with one notable exception at 197 lbs. Charles confirmed sophomore Wesley Moore will again start over the injured redshirt sophomore Josh DaSilveira.

“Wes right now is the guy for the spot,” Charles said. “He’s been on a mission ever since he came back from his injury. He’s a hard worker, and we’re gonna go with him again this Friday and Sunday.”

Charles said DaSilveira has not been cleared by doctors to wrestle. If he is before the meet, Charles said the two would have a wrestle-off of sorts.

Redshirt junior Kevin Radford (174), who was replaced by sophomore Ray Waters, will likely stay sidelined, and it isn’t just his health that is keeping him off the mat.

“Radford’s situation is up in the air,” Charles said. “He gave us a great run at 174, and the reality is, that weight class might have been a bit much for him. … Because of him being dinged up, there might not be great opportunities for him to start right now, but he’s given so much to the program that we want to keep him around.”

– ASU took a day off from drilling and conditioning Wednesday, instead holding optional yoga and stretching as a method of rest and recovery.

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