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ASU wrestling prepares for 2021-22 season with intrasquad scrimmage

The Sun Devils competed against one another in the Maroon versus Gold scrimmage to help solidify their roster order at each weight class

michael mcgee wrestling

ASU then-redshirt sophomore Michael McGee attempts a single leg takedown on CSU Bakersfield then-redshirt freshman Chance Rich during the Pac-12 Wrestling Championship semifinals at the Maples Pavilion in Stanford, California, on Saturday, March 6, 2021. McGee lost 6-4.

ASU wrestling prepared for the start of its regular season with the Maroon versus Gold intrasquad scrimmage, which included 10 matches at Desert Financial Arena to help the team determine roster order at each weight class.

ASU returns seven All-Americans in 2021: redshirt sophomore Jacori Teemer, redshirt freshman Cohlton Schultz, redshirt senior Anthony Valencia and redshirt juniors Brandon Courtney, Kordell Norfleet and Michael McGee.

Assistant coach Frank Molinaro said the team can rely on its leadership to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. 

"In college, I was on two National Championship teams and coached on one," Molinaro said. "So realistically, it takes about seven, eight All Americans, about two or three finalists and about one or two champs to win the tournament on an average year. When I look at our lineup, I think we can have eight All Americans. I think we can have two or three finalists, and I think it's possible to have multiple champs."

Valencia and Norfleet wrestled against each other in the scrimmage, with the former winning the match 13-4. After starting the 2020-21 season 11-0, Norfleet lost his final two matches in the NCAA Championships. He said he learned from his NCAA run last season and "reset." 

"This sport is such a humbling sport," Norfleet said. "I have to reflect on what got me to the dance, what got me to Arizona State. Try not to reinvent the wheel but definitely revamp some stuff. I'm excited to show the world this year what we can really do."

McGee, ranked No. 7 in the 133-pound weight class for Division I, defeated redshirt freshman Julian Chlebove 7-3 in the intrasquad matchup.

Teemer, who won his match over freshman Ricky Roberto 13-1, said his off-season preparation put him in a place to succeed this season. 

"In my match, I probably had like three minutes riding time, that never happened last year," Teemer said. "So, I was working really on my top game, getting extra points."

Freshman Jesse Vasquez showed great upside in the 141-pound division, finishing 2-0 on Friday. Vasquez defeated redshirt freshmen Ethan Pickren and Dom DiGena 15-5 and 16-6, respectively. 

"I was surprised to see that much action," Molinaro said. "When you have to wrestle for the starting spot and you're both really good wrestlers, you see a lot of guys standing around. But these guys got right after it. That was about three straight minutes of wrestling in the first period, another hard second period. That was exciting."

Redshirt freshman Kyle Parco also had a good showing, winning his match against freshman Mykey Ramos. Molinaro highlighted Parco's technique as something that stood out during the match.

"He's a complete wrestler," Molinaro said. "He's good in all three positions. He's exceptionally good in that body lock, seat belt position. He can generate offense on his feet. He's got a really good under hook attack, which is a high percentage attack. And I think he's starting to get better and better on the mat. So (I'm) just excited to see his progression and just get about 10-15 matches under his belt and see where he's at." 

Freshman Cael Valencia, the brother of Anthony and former Sun Devil Zahid Valencia, also earned a win Friday against redshirt freshman Zane Coleman.

Courtney, who won the Pac-12 Championship in 2020-21 in the 125-pound weight class, did not wrestle in the scrimmage.

Norfleet said having fans back in the stands will provide an "added push" for the team. The Sun Devils will compete in front of the Inferno for the first time since the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21. 

"It really propels us to match it more than fans may know," Norfleet said. "Our sports growing down here, we're reaching a lot more people. We're a pretty damn good team, too."

This will also potentially be the Sun Devils' final season in Desert Financial Arena. ASU will eventually compete in its new multipurpose arena, which is projected to open in late 2022. 

"We're really excited," Molinaro said. "We walked through the new arena this morning. I think anyone that's a wrestling fan in Arizona, New Mexico, anywhere that's close enough to get out here, I would highly recommend if you're a serious wrestler to get season tickets and get out here and check out this team. 

"I've been around college wrestling for a long time, and I've seen a lot of different styles, but this is one of the most offensive teams I've been around. I think it's going to be a really exciting year."

ASU will kick off its regular season in Boone, North Carolina, competing in the Mountaineer Open on Nov. 14.

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Aayush Gupta

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