What you need to know as ASU wrestling enters Pac-12 season

The Sun Devils open up conference action against Stanford on Jan. 19

With less than a day before the Sun Devils open up Pac-12 competition against Stanford at Wells Fargo arena, ASU is ranked No. 8 in the nation as a team, three spots below where they were at the beginning of the season.

Going into its first Pac-12 dual meet of the year, ASU is the obvious favorite to repeat as conference champions in February. The Sun Devils are the only ranked squad in the Pac-12 and boast seven ranked wrestlers, highlighted by redshirt sophomore Zahid Valencia, who tops the 174-pound weight class.

The Sun Devils have placed in the top-5 as a team in every tournament they have competed in, including one championship trophy from the Virginia Duals.

ASU is 5-2 against ranked opponents this season and 7-2 overall, and it has not been an easy schedule.

Right before the beginning of the season, Andrew Spey of flowresting.org ranked ASU’s schedule as the fifth-toughest in the nation and wrote, “Zeke Jones has assembled the toughest out-of-conference schedule of anyone in the country.” 

Looking ahead to the conference season, ASU will compete in three duals in six days, which will serve as a test when the Sun Devils wrestle Stanford and Oregon State in back-to-back days. 

Last season, Stanford was ASU’s most solid opponent; however, Stanford lost its best wrestler Joey McKenna to Ohio State before the season began, a huge blow to the team’s strength. 

Following its match against Stanford, ASU will make a trip to Bakersfield, Ca. to take on Cal State Bakersfield. 

After a dual in Bakersfield, ASU will have a week to recuperate before heading to Pennsylvania for the Edinboro Open.

The tournament will serve as a tune-up before the team's final ranked test of the season in a non-conference dual against No. 9 Lehigh.

Ranked just one spot below ASU, Lehigh features former NCAA champion senior Darian Cruz (125). Along with Cruz, Lehigh junior Scott Parker is a returning All-American and currently ranked No. 9 in the nation at 133 pounds

After their battle with Lehigh, the Sun Devils will have one final match before the Pac-12 tournament against California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. 

The Sun Devils will host Stanford at Wells Fargo Arena on Jan. 19 at 8 p.m., when they will also host MMA stars from ASU and elsewhere for their annual MMA night. On Jan. 20, the Sun Devils plan to honor the 1988 NCAA Champion team for its 30th Anniversary before their match against Oregon State at 1:30 p.m. 

*All rankings taken from Flowrestling.org

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

Like State Press Sports on Facebook and follow @statepresssport on Twitter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.