ASU wrestling wins fourth Pac-12 title in five years

Anthony Valencia, one of five Sun Devils to win a Pac-12 title Sunday, became the third wrestler in program history to win four titles in a career

ASU wrestling won the Pac-12 Championship in Corvallis, Oregon on Sunday, the program's second consecutive title and its fourth in five years.

ASU finished atop the team scoreboard with 138 team points, beating out second-place Oregon State by 15 points. Stanford rounded out the top three with 115.5 points.

Five individuals won Pac-12 titles across multiple weight levels for ASU, including redshirt senior Anthony Valencia at 165 pounds. Valencia’s victory made him just the third Sun Devil to win four Pac-12 titles in a career, joining Markus Mollica (1993-96) and Eric Larkin (1999, 2001-03).

Redshirt junior Brandon Courtney (125 pounds), redshirt sophomore Jacori Teemer (157) and senior Kordell Norfleet (197) each won their second consecutive individual titles, while redshirt freshman Cohlton Schultz (heavyweight) won his first conference title.

Redshirt junior Michael McGee placed third at the 133-pound level in his first Pac-12 Championship, and redshirt senior Cory Crooks also finished third at the 149-pound level. 

Redshirt senior Cade Belshay claimed a third-place finish at 184 pounds, and redshirt freshman Trey Munoz finished as the runner-up at 174 pounds.

ASU's win is its 20th Pac-10/12 title, putting the program just two behind Oregon State for the most ever at 22. The Sun Devils' four conference titles in the past five years are the most in a five-year span for the program since it won four of five from 1989-93.

In a postgame interview with the Pac-12 Network, Anthony Valencia spoke about how he and his brother, alumnus Zahid Valencia, have “started the new dynasty” at ASU. 

The team's focus will now turn to the NCAA Tournament and winning a national championship. Last season, the NCAA canceled all winter championships on March 12 due to COVID-19 concerns, just a week before the wrestling championships were set to take place.

ASU has finished in the top 15 in each of the last three national tournaments, including a 10th-place finish in 2018. Head coach Zeke Jones, a member of ASU's 1988 NCAA Wrestling Championship team, believes this year's group is ready to take the next step.

“This team hasn’t quite accomplished what that group has in the '80s, but it’s starting to show those signs," Jones said in a press conference on Wednesday. "It’s starting to show they have the ability to compete for a national championship.” 

The NCAA Wrestling Championships are set to begin on March 18 in St. Louis.

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