No. 8 ASU wrestling beats Stanford in Pac-12 opener 24-15

The Sun Devils' dual meet win streak extends to eight

No. 8 ASU wrestling began its Pac-12 season versus Stanford on Friday night, and the dual meet marked the second straight Pac-12 opener win for head coach Zeke Jones, as The Sun Devils pulled out the win over the Cardinal 24-15.

Heading into the contest, the Sun Devils had dropped four straight duals to the Cardinal.

“We were well aware,” assistant coach Chris Pendleton said regarding the losing streak to the Cardinal. “We were fortunate enough to have our newest Sun Devil (football) head coach Antonio Pierce come into the locker room and give our guys a good 'ra-ra' speech.” 

Stanford’s season up until this dual was up and down, but the Cardinal placed in the top-10 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and ninth at the Southern Scuffle, two of the toughest tournaments in the country all season. 

With the win over Stanford, ASU is now on an eight-dual win streak, with wins over opponents including South Dakota State, Northern Iowa and Virginia Tech.

“Ever since we came back from Midlands, we changed our training and everyone’s been working hard,” senior Ali Naser (133) said.

The dual started with the heavyweights. 

Junior Tanner Hall (285), the No. 4 heavyweight in the country, battled against redshirt senior No. 6 Nathan Butler, and after multiple overtime rounds, Butler pulled out the narrow 3-2 victory to hand ASU its first loss of the night. 

Next up, at 125 pounds, was No. 15 redshirt junior Ryan Millhof against Stanford sophomore Gabriel Townsell

After another match initially stalled by defense, Millhof locked up a far-leg cradle and picked up four back points. Millhof picked up win number twelve on the season, beating Townsell 6-1.

No. 15 Naser, fresh off a major upset win over the No. 3 133-pounder in the nation just over a week ago, controlled the entire match against Stanford freshman Anthony Le and earned a technical fall. 



Heading into 141 pounds, redshirt sophomore Nikko Villarreal hoped to continue on the Sun Devil momentum, but he couldn't get the win over Cardinal sophomore Brandon Kier, who got an early first period takedown. The match stayed close, but Kier got the 3-2 win.

The slow-paced match didn’t trend into the 149-pound weight class, however, as redshirt sophomore Josh Maruca pulled out a major decision over Jake Barry, giving ASU a 12-6 lead at intermission.

Immediately after the break, redshirt sophomore No. 7 Josh Shields (157) found himself in a battle with Stanford redshirt junior No. 20 Paul Fox

Shields won the first period with a hard-fought takedown. Throughout the rest of the match, Shields held solid mat position and narrowly beat Fox to give ASU three more team points. 

Redshirt sophomore Anthony Valencia (165) fired out of the gate quick, not giving Stanford redshirt freshman Jared Hill any room to breathe as Valencia cruised to a major victory.

With three matches left in the dual, ASU was leading 19-6.

Next, it was redshirt sophomore Zahid Valencia’s (174) turn to get the crowd roaring. 

Going against No. 13 Keaton Subjeck, Zahid, currently ranked No. 1 at 174-pounds and No. 6 in the pound-for-pound rankings, featured a spladle-like tilt that earned him four early back points and ultimately led to a third period technical fall, sealing a team victory for the Sun Devils.

With the dual meet victory locked up, there were still two more matches to be completed.

Freshman Kordell Norfleet (184) started off strong against Stanford freshman Judah Duhm; however, due to a slam call, Norfleet was disqualified from the match, and Stanford was awarded six team points.

For the final match, Freshman Cade Belshay (197) followed his previous teammates and scored a quick takedown versus Stanford redshirt sophomore Austin Flores. But Belshay couldn't pull out the win, and Stanford earned three more points, closing the dual 24-15.

The Sun Devils will be back at Wells Fargo Arena on Jan. 20 to grapple with Oregon State at 1:30 p.m. MST.

*All rankings taken from Flowrestling.org


Reach the reporter at trittenh@asu.edu or follow @trittenhouse34 on Twitter. 

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