ASU wrestling takes on its first non-Sun Devil competition in Bethlehem, PA, at Wranglemania and the Journeymen Collegiate Classic this weekend.
The Sun Devils will take on Lock Haven University on Saturday to kick off their doubleheader before they go up against the University of North Carolina later that day. Then, on Sunday, ASU competes in the Journeymen Collegiate Classic, a style of tournament where there will be groups of wrestlers will compete by skill level.
Head coach Zeke Jones said those groups usually tend to be split up as the best of the best, a middle tier, and the lowest tends to be the freshman wrestlers.
In the Journeymen Collegiate Classic, the Sun Devils will match up against athletes from Penn State, Cornell University, Purdue University, Army West Point, and many more.
Along with the coaches, there will be 19 ASU wrestlers who will be making the cross-country trip. Jones said the 19 guys were chosen based on their performances at the Maroon vs. Gold matchup last weekend, which is an intrasquad competition.
Jones’ said his only concern for the weekend is that sometimes it takes a second to dust off the cobwebs at the beginning of the season.
“A lot of guys, when they first start in the beginning of the season, they're a little reserved and hesitant,” Jones said. “But to me, it’s, 'Man, get out there and get after it right now!'”
Even recognizing that the expectation is always to win, Jones and assistant coach Lee Pritts said there needs to be some sample size before making significant adjustments.
Pritts said that the importance of doing well this weekend depends on the definition of 'well.'
“If you’re doing your weight cut, that’s good, right? That’s a positive,” Pritts said. “I don’t look at it from a win-loss standpoint. I look at it from your process."
For Pritts, those little things are what is necessary. He said he knows that winning a match starts there, and at this moment, that is all the wrestler can control.
Redshirt junior Julian Chlebove will be one of those 19 wrestlers competing in his home state of Pennsylvania this weekend. Chlebove is wrestling in his home state to start off the regular season, but he said he is ready.
“I am pretty calm and relaxed,” Chlebove said. “Just ready to return to the East Coast and start wrestling.”
No matter the weekend outcome for Chlebove, he said that traveling with the guys is always an excellent experience. After this weekend, the team takes on its subsequent trial and heads to Columbia, Miss., for their first one-on-one meet against University of Missouri.
“It's like an experience you'll never forget as you grow up,” Chlebove said. “You'll always remember the trips with the guys.”
Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Walker Smith and Shane Brennan