ASU wrestling outperformed by top-five Ohio State in first home match

The Sun Devils had four wrestlers win their individual matches, but weren't able to take the team competition

ASU wrestling was defeated by top-five Ohio State in its first home competition of the season on Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Sun Devils (1-1) fell by a team score of 27-15 despite earning victories in four individual matches over the Buckeyes (1-0).

"Just didn't have enough fire power today," Zeke Jones, head coach, said. "Definitely need to obviously do better on the bottom. I think we need to revisit some of the training that we're doing, but I was pleased with the effort."

ASU had two bouts in the 125-pound and 141-pound weight classes in which they did not score a single point on the mat. 

Other dominate performances out of Ohio State came from No. 7 redshirt-sophomore Micah Jordan, who outscored ASU's redshirt-freshman Josh Maruca 14-8, and No. 2 sophomore Myles Martin defeated junior Jacen Petersen 16-3. 

Petersen was a substitute for the usual 184-pound wrestler for ASU, sophomore Connor Small.

"We've got work to do to catch a team like that," Jones said. "They're an excellent team. That's where we want to be. I think with time we can get there, but just today we didn't have enough."

The bright spots for ASU in their first home match of the season came from the redshirt-freshman class of Josh Shields, Anthony Valencia and Zahid Valencia, all of whom won their matches.

Shields bested 14th-ranked redshirt-sophomore Jake Ryan by a score of 13-12, and set a tone for the Sun Devils heading into the locker room at intermission.

Josh Orcutt | The State Press

ASU redshirt freshman Josh Shields (gray) gets a hold of OSU redshirt sophomore Jake Ryan's leg in the fifth match of a meet versus the second-ranked Ohio State University Buckeyes in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. The Sun Devils lost the meet 27-15, but Shields won his match, 13-12.

"I definitely think I left some points out there un-scored," Shields said. "I have a lot of things to work on. It's not the match I wanted to get, but it got the crowd pumped up and I was excited about that."

Another match that was intended to get the rowdy crowd at Wells Fargo Arena going was the excitement of a matchup between Ohio State's top-ranked redshirt-junior Bo Jordan versus No. 9 Zahid Valencia for ASU. This bout was rated as the most anticipated for the month of November by TheOpenMat.

But the much-awaited match never took place as Jordan was kept out of the Ohio State lineup.

"That was a match that our community anticipated," Jones said. "They sent the lineup, his name was on it. The lineup they sent is the one we assume is going to come."

Zahid Valencia pinned Jordan's substitute, Seth Williams, in the first period.

The last big dual of the day came in the heavyweight division between Olympic Gold medalist and junior Kyle Snyder and ASU sophomore Tanner Hall, who lost to Snyder by majority decision, 20-8. 

Snyder is widely considered one of the best collegiate wrestlers in the world, and Hall had previously taken some time off in order to serve on a mission trip. 

"I thought it would be closer, I really did," Jones said. "It let's Tanner know where the gap is, but now we know, it's good. Instead of uncertainty, now we have information. The information is he's got work to do."

Saturday just wasn't a day to showcase some of the best wrestling talent in the country, but also to honor the past greats of the ASU wrestling program.

Curley Culp was featured during intermission for his 1967 NCAA Division I Championship as an ASU wrestler. 

He was the first ever Sun Devil to have his singlet retired at Wells Fargo Arena. Culp was also a dual-sport athlete in his time at ASU, playing defensive tackle on the football team. Culp is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"Curley exemplifies what we want to be and inspire to be," Jones said. "To honor him in our arena, and he'll be there forever alongside James Harden and all the other greats, my hope like Josh and Anthony and the rest of the team understand that someday they can hang their singlet in here."

ASU will have a short break before competing in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational Dec 1-3.


Reach the reporter at thandlan@asu.edu or follow @Tyler_Handlan on Twitter.

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