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ASU Wrestling: Sun Devils just two points shy of a third straight conference title

Three champions, five qualifiers for the Devils

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

The Pac-12 Wrestling Championships returned to Tempe Friday night with Arizona State looking to win its third-straight conference championship.

The Devils had previously won the title in Tempe on three separate occasions: 1985, 1989 and 1997. Sadly for ASU, they were unable to secure the three-peat as they fell to Stanford by just two points.

The Cardinal put up 81.5 points, just enough for their first-ever Pac-12 title. The Sun Devils finished the night in second place, scoring a combined 79.5 team points. Even though the team did not finish in first, it still proved to be a night full of individual success.

Arizona State has five wrestlers heading to Pittsburgh to compete in the NCAA Championships later this month. Of those five, three were crowned champions on Friday. Grad student Christian Pagdilao (157 lb.) and juniors Josh Shields (165 lb.) and Zahid Valencia (174 lb.) qualified automatically after winning their brackets.

Shields and Valencia have now each won three-straight championships. The last Sun Devil to win three championships in consecutive years was Anthony Robles (2009-2011). Zeke Jones, the current head coach, is another former ASU wrestler who also won three consecutive titles (1988-1990).

Shields and Valencia became the 16th and 17th wrestlers in Sun Devil history to win three titles. Furthermore, the two became the 10th and 11th to win three consecutively. If Shields and Valencia can make it four-straight next season, they will become just the fourth and fifth Arizona State wrestlers to win four consecutive Pac-12 championships joining Curley Culp (1965-1968), Markus Mollica (1993-1996), and Eric Larkin (1999-2003).

It is worth noting that Valencia was declared this year’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

Senior Ryan Millhof (125 lb.) and junior Josh Maruca (149 lb.) both notched second-place finishes and will also be representing ASU in Pittsburgh. This is Millhof’s fourth trip to the NCAA Championships.

The official results from Friday night were: Stanford (81.5), Arizona State (79.5), Oregon State (77.5), CSU Bakersfield (49.5) and Cal Poly (15).

The NCAA Championships run Thursday, March 21, through Saturday, March 23. As mentioned earlier, the event will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.