Arizona State’s quest to defend its 2018 title started Friday morning against the Sooners in the quarterfinals. The Sun Devils jumped out to a 9-0 start, and that would set the tone for the rest of the meet.
Juniors Josh Shields (165 lb.) and Zahid Valencia (174 lb.) , would both wind up with technical falls, putting ASU comfortably out in front heading down the stretch. Freshman heavyweight Brady Daniel capped off ASU’s quarterfinal win by wrapping up Jacob Boyd in the sudden victory period to give himself a 3-1 decision and the Devils a spot in the semis.
In the semifinals today, ASU fell to Virginia, who had just upset No. 20 Lock Haven on Friday to advance to the semis themselves.
Virginia’s No. 5 Jack Mueller earned a technical fall in the 125 lb. bout against Brandon Courtney, and UVA would go on to win the 133 lb. and 141 lb. bouts as well. Junior Josh Maruca (149 lb.) ended up being the first Sun Devil to strike with an 8-2 decision against Michael Murphy.
After graduate student No. 11 Christian Pagdilao, was pinned by Jake Keating, Shields and senior Jacen Petersen (wrestling at 174 lb.) picked up decision victories.
In the 184 lb. bout, Valencia (wrestling up) made easy work of Virginia’s Will Schany. A 15-5 major decision was the result of Valencia’s dominance.
Virginia would answer though, in the form of No. 7 Jay Aiello in the 197 lb. bout. Aiello pinned 197 lb. senior Austyn Harris, in what was a strong response from UVA. Those pins would add up, and Virginia would get its second upset victory of the tournament by defeating Arizona State 23-16.
Even though ASU’s shot at going back-to back at the Duals had been spoiled, the team kept grinding in a consolation matchup with Chattanooga. The Sun Devils prevailed 22-16 and were rewarded a third-place match with the Sooners. They had already beaten Oklahoma Friday morning.
ASU was off and running Saturday evening thanks to a technical fall courtesy of Brandon Courtney in the 125 lb. bout. After that, the Devils dropped three straight to the Sooners and fell behind in the meet.
Things picked up again at 157 lb. with Maruca getting a hard-fought win over Justin Thomas 4-2. Shields and Valencia continued to shine in the following two weight classes. Both pinned their opponents in under 1:20, putting Arizona State 20-9 heading into the final three bouts.
After OU wrestlers secured a fall and a decision, the score of the dual heading into the heavyweight round was 20-18 Arizona State. Daniel and Boyd would be squaring off again, this time with a place on the podium up for grabs. Daniel had previously defeated Boyd on Friday in a match that had gone into the sudden victory period.
After one period, the score was still 0-0. In the second, Daniel deferred and Boyd (starting low) broke away from him to get the escape and the first point of the match. Daniel was later called for stalling, and that would make it 2-0 Boyd heading into the final period. Daniel started the third off with an escape, but that would be about all he could muster in terms of points. When the dust had settled, Boyd was given 4-2 decision. Oklahoma had stormed back to win the dual meet 21-20.
Arizona State would end up finishing fourth behind Oklahoma, Virginia and Virginia Tech. While this may not have been the outcome the team envisioned coming into the competition, there were some impressive individual achievements.
Zahid Valencia was declared the Most Outstanding Wrestler for the third consecutive year after racking up 21 points for his team (the most out of everybody at the tournament). Also, Josh Shields went undefeated throughout the course of the tournament scoring 18 points for ASU along the way.
The Sun Devils (3-6) open up conference play next Sunday in Corvallis. The meet is scheduled to get underway at 7 PM and will air on the Pac-12 Network.