Sun Devils set to face Big-10 power

Sophomore 141-pounder Robles will miss tonight’s tilt with the Gophers

01-23-09 Wrestling
Imanibom Etukeren and Erik Nye square off during a practice earlier this semester. The ASU wrestling team will host No. 9 Minnesota Friday at Wells Fargo Arena. (Morgan Bellinger/The State Press)
Published On:
Friday, January 23, 2009
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When the ASU men’s wrestling team heads to the mats tonight it will be without one of its top grapplers.

Sophomore Anthony Robles (141 pounds) will not wrestle when ASU (4-4, 2-1 Pac-10) hosts No. 9 Minnesota (9-4, 0-0 Big 10) due to an undisclosed illness that will keep him out for two weeks, ASU coach Thom Ortiz said.

“We knew he wasn’t himself Sunday [against OU],” Ortiz said. “We took some tests and he’ll be out for the next two weeks.”

Freshman David Prado will wrestle in his place.

Robles, who is ranked 11th in his weight class, has won five out of eight bouts during team duals this season.

This means that ASU will start six freshmen tonight in the meet that starts at 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.

“We’ve been focusing on being positive. We’re inexperienced but we’ve got a lot of fighters on our team,” Ortiz said. “If you think about it competitively, six of these guys [the freshmen] were wrestling high-schoolers there last time out. There’s a paramount of difference and everyone’s focusing on getting better.”

Minnesota’s strength is in the three lowest weight divisions. The Golden Gophers wrestle No. 7 Zach Sanders at 125 pounds, No. 6 Jayson Ness at 133 pounds and No. 9 Mike Thorn at 141 pounds.

“Minnesota is always in good condition. You better be ready to go seven minutes with a team like that. They’ll come to compete—they’re a top-10 program for a reason.”

Freshman Michael Swigart (157) is one of the young wrestlers who has been asked to step up for the Sun Devils on a consistent.

“Right now I really strive to do as best as I can,” Swigart said. “If mentally I’m there, and physically I’m there, I feel like I’m going to compete well.”

This week the team has been practicing on executing specific moves and exploiting position in order to take control of the bout.

“Wrestling is all transition,” Ortiz said. “It’s who wins the positions that’s going to win the match. I don’t care if you’re a marathoner.
Everyone is in shape, if you’re not you shouldn’t be wrestling Division I. Being able to transition, especially when they get on that mat [is] what matters.”

For the Sun Devils, it’s unfortunate that strength of schedule isn’t a factor in college wrestling.

It’d certainly benefit ASU, which is facing its second Top-15 opponent in a row, and fourth overall.

UFC mixed martial arts fighter and former ASU All-American C.B. Dollaway will be in attendance at tonight’s meet.

Dollaway, who was a finalist on the seventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” will be signing autographs after the match.

Reach the reporter at joshua.spivack@asu.edu.