The ASU wrestling regular season will reach its final act on Saturday as the Sun Devils (5-7, 3-3 Pac-10) play host to Cal State Fullerton (10-6, 4-3 Pac-10) at Wells Fargo Arena.
ASU is looking to rebound from a two-match losing streak before heading to the Pac-10 championships in early March.
“It’s for the Pac-10 season so it’s real important,” ASU coach Thom Ortiz said. “[CS Fullerton is] going be good on [its] feet, so we’re gonna have to be able to wrestle there. I think we’re prepared, I think we’re ready for a victory.”
Victory, should it come, will likely be due in part to ASU’s sophomore captain Anthony Robles (125 pounds), who, after missing nearly a month with an illness, returned last weekend and went 2-0.
“It feels good to be back,” Robles said. “It was boring. I was out almost a month [and] couldn’t practice. I’m just excited to be back and to be able to help out my team in whatever way I can. In a way, it was kind of a blessing. I was able to refresh and get my body at 100 percent again.”
Robles is one of four Sun Devil wrestlers who face a potential rematch from bouts earlier in the season. All of those bouts occurred while the Sun Devils participated in the Reno Tournament of Champions, where ASU placed sixth.
Robles is slated to face sophomore Andre Gonzalez, whom Robles pinned earlier in the season in 2:13.
“I wrestled him once this year once last year,” Robles said. “I’m expecting a tough match from him. I know he’s gonna come out 100 percent against me, so I just gotta bring my ‘A’ game. I [have to] wrestle like it’s the national championship match every single match.”
Joining the list of potential rematches is freshman Eric Starks (174), who lost a 5-3 decision to sophomore Todd Noel in the consolation rounds of the tournament.
“I think since Reno, personally I’ve improved a lot,” Starks said. “Just like our team; everyone else has improved a lot. Since Reno I’ve made a lot of adjustments, tweaks here and there; I think it’s going to be a whole different game.”
Sun Devils fans hope he’s right. After the final dual of the season, the squad will return to practice in intensive preparation for the Pac-10 Championships. Those results will determine which wrestlers get selected for individual competition at the NCAA Nationals.
For now, however, they attempt to cap off their 2008-2009 campaign in the right way.
“We’re going to end the season on a positive note, because we’re going get an effort from all ten weight classes,” Ortiz said. “That’s the most positive you can get. Like I said, I want to win by effort. [I don’t want to] win on talent but to win because we did the best we could.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.