No. 9 ASU wrestling finishes fourth at the 55th annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships

Redshirt senior Jason Tsirtsis became a six-time place winner at the Midlands

No. 9 ASU wrestling took to the mats in Illinois for the 55th annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships Dec. 29-30.

The Sun Devils looked to send out 2017 on a high note with a trophy in hand. Last year, ASU finished third in the team rankings and crowned two individual champions.

After two grueling days of competition against some of the best teams in the country, the Sun Devils were able to find themselves in fourth place behind Iowa, Rutgers and Central Michigan.

Redshirt sophomore Zahid Valencia continued his dominant win streak and earned his second consecutive individual title.

Junior Tanner Hall was ASU’s second individual champion last year and was poised to accompany Valencia as a two-time individual champion at the Midlands but came up just short. Hall wrestled a tough match in the finals against Iowa junior Sam Stoll.

Redshirt sophomore Josh Shields also found himself in the finals shaking hands with an Iowa wrestler, but this opponent was familiar to Shields. Iowa sophomore Michael Kemerer was teammates with Shields at Franklin Regional High School in Pennsylvania. 

This was their first collegiate meeting. 

After an exciting match, Shields was not able to fend Kemerer off. Shields improved on his third-place finish at the Midlands last season.

Redshirt sophomore Anthony Valencia wrestled his way into the semifinals for the second straight season, but couldn’t find a way to get into the finals. 

Valencia earned his second medal at the Midlands by coming in fourth place. 

Redshirt senior Jason Tsirtsis’ collegiate career has been nothing short of complicated, but that was all set aside when Tsirtsis became a six-time place winner at the Midlands. In six attempts, Tsirtsis is perfect in earning a medal. This time around, Tsirtsis earned a fifth-place finish.

Overall, the Sun Devils placed five wrestlers and finished with 106.5 team points. Their fourth place finish was the eighth time in program history that the team brought home a top-5 trophy.

ASU wrapped up 2017 as the No. 9 ranked team in the country and will aim to gain momentum going into next year. 

ASU will be back in action Jan. 6 when they take to the mat with North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.  

*All rankings taken from  

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