The ASU wrestling team concluded its first road trip of the 2008-2009 campaign this weekend after taking on No. 1 Iowa on Friday and No. 2 Iowa State on Sunday.
Both opponents held to their rankings, handing the Sun Devils (2-2, 2-0 Pac-10) their first losses of the season.
“We had to do this,” ASU coach Thom Ortiz said after the two matches. “We had to come to Iowa and Iowa State to see where we’re at. We’re getting better everyday. By March, we’ll be ready.”
Friday, Iowa blanked ASU, winning all 10 bouts in route to a 41-0 victory.
Despite the score, many of the matches were hotly contested. Entering the third round tied at zero, ASU’s No. 8 sophomore Anthony Robles (125 pounds) lost 2-1 to Iowa’s No. 3 Charlie Falck because of a late takedown.
ASU’s other ranked wrestler; No. 8 sophomore Chris Drouin (141 pounds) lost 3-2 to Iowa’s No. 7 Alex Tsirtsis.
In addition, ASU Erik Nye (285) fell to 1-2 for the season after losing a 7-6 decision to Iowa’s Dan Erekson.
“We could have won three or four matches against Iowa,” Ortiz said. “We were in the hunt; they just had [more] experience.”
The No. 1 team in the land also won some not-so-close bouts. Iowa pinned three ASU wrestlers — junior Tyler Bowles (133), freshman Vicente Varela (149) and freshman Eric Starks (174) — and also recorded two major decisions, accumulating 20 team points in the process.
The Sun Devils would fare better against ISU but still fell 24-11.
Robles lost a 9-3 decision to open the contest against ISU’s No. 11 Tyler Clark. In the next match, Bowles lost by technical fall at 6:55, 22-5 to give ISU an early 9-0 lead.
“We started four freshman, four sophomores and two juniors,” Ortiz said of his young unit. “Experience wise, we were overmatched.”
The match wasn’t without some bright moments for the Sun Devils. ASU won three decisions, two of them majors.
Drouin defeated ISU’s Joey DeMarie 16-5 and Nye was able to shutout ISU’s Kyle Simonson 8-0 in the final match of the day.
Varela recorded his second decision of the season after defeating Dalton Jensen 10-3 during the dual’s fourth match, pushing the team score to 8-7.
It wouldn’t be enough of a push, however, as ASU lost the next five decisions.
Nevertheless, Ortiz understood the challenge.
“If you fail [at] what you’re doing, what are you going to do, quit?” Ortiz said. “We got cut down a little, but we’re going to grow back even stronger. We’re focused on now, focused on how we can get better.”
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