A road trip that was supposed to hold a season in balance tilted the wrong way over the weekend as the ASU wrestling team (5-7, 3-3 Pac-10) fell to both Stanford and Oregon State, 20-19 and 19-13, respectively.
The trouble began Friday, as the Sun Devils fell to the Cardinal (7-13-1, 2-5 Pac-10), though you wouldn’t have known it was coming the way things started.
ASU took an early 12-0 lead because of a victory by forfeit for heavyweight sophomore Imanibom Etukeren and a win by fall for No. 12 sophomore Anthony Robles (125 pounds) over Cardinal sophomore Austin Quarles.
The Sun Devils split the next two decisions, and were able to gain an extra point due to a major decision scored by No. 6 sophomore Chris Drouin (141) over sophomore Cardinal Cameron Teitelman.
Up by 13 points, the Sun Devils dropped four of the next five bouts before the final showdown of the night between Jake Cranford and SU senior Luke Feist. With the dual in the balance, Feist gained the early upper hand to record a 5-0 decision and the victory for Stanford.
“After Stanford we had a long conversation about our effort,” ASU coach Thom Ortiz said. “I said guys, we don’t care if you win lose or draw [against Oregon State]. We care about your effort.”
If Stanford was a heartbreaker, than Oregon State was simply painful. Sunday, ASU once again battled it out until the final match before losing the decision and the meet.
Like Friday, ASU started out ahead. Robles began the meet with an 8-3 decision over senior Jake Gonzales, and similar to Friday, the Sun Devils then split the next two decisions with the Beavers, both majors.
Down 13-7 after freshmen Michael Swigart (157) and Kyle DeBerry (165) fell in consecutive decisions, it was ASU’s turn to take to the comeback trail.
And they did, as ASU took the next two decisions to tie the meet at 13 with just two bouts to go. This included an upset win by freshman Eric Starks (174) over No. 11 senior Kyle Bressler, 4-2.
Like Friday, it was just not enough. Cranford lost a closely-contested decision to redshirt freshman Chad Hanke 9-6, leaving the match to the heavyweight Etukeren. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, Etukeren dropped his fifth dual of the season, 7-1 to redshirt freshman Clayton Jack.
“Even in a loss, our effort against Oregon State was an ‘A’,” Ortiz said. “Our team gave a lot of effort; they tried to win every time they could. I was happy with their performance. Although we weren’t able to come away with the victory, [it’s because] we made some young mistakes. I believe we’ll be ahead of those teams in the Pac-10s.”
The losses mean that ASU will have their first sub-.500 season since the 2006-2007 campaign, when they went 8-11.
With one dual to go, the Sun Devils move their focus to the Titans of Cal State Fullerton Saturday, where they will try to end the season above .500 in conference duals.
“Their confidence was low after Stanford, but it’s high now after Oregon State,” Ortiz said. “We could have won, we were right there. One match here or there, and it’s a tie match. Now we focus on the fundamentals. That’s what wins.”
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