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Valencia repeats as NCAA champion, ASU wrestling finishes No. 12

One NCAA title, three All-Americans highlight ASU's performance at NCAAs


ASU then-redshirt freshman wrestler Zahid Valencia celebrates after capturing his first national title and becoming the first ASU national champion since 2011 on Saturday, March 17, 2018, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

ASU's Zahid Valencia capped off his dominant NCAA tournament performance with his second consecutive national title Saturday, defeating Penn State's Mark Hall in back-to-back seasons.

He became just the third ASU wrestler to capture two NCAA championships. 

Valencia avenged both of his regular season losses in the tournament, as he knocked off Missouri's Daniel Lewis in the semifinals and Hall in the finals. His victory over Lewis was the 100th of his ASU career.

The redshirt junior also became an All-American for the third time, a feat accomplished by only nine other Sun Devil wrestlers in school history.

Teammate Josh Shields also earned an All-American nod, his second, after Friday's victory in the quarterfinals. He finished sixth in the nation at NCAAs.

A one-point loss to No. 2 seed Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State in the semifinals on Friday placed the redshirt junior into the consolation bracket. Two losses on Saturday, including one in the fifth-place match, ended Shields' season.

A third Sun Devil earned All-American honors in Christian Pagdilao. The graduate student placed seventh in the nation after Saturday's victory over Old Dominion's Larry Early.

In the quarterfinals, Pagdilao lost to Penn State's Jason Nolf, the No. 1 seed at 157 pounds. 

Redshirt junior Josh Maruca's second NCAAs trip in three years came to an end Friday, following a 9-5 loss to NC State's Justin Oliver in round two of the consolation bracket.

Like Valencia and Shields, he has one year of eligibility remaining.   

The Sun Devils finished overall in 12th place with 42 points.

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