Lineup Pieces Beginning To Come Together For Arizona State Wrestling

Lineup Pieces Beginning To Come Together For Arizona State Wrestling

Arizona State's wrestling lineup has been influx this season, but Jacori Teemer is back and more help is on the way.

Dec 7, 2023 by Jim Carlson
Lineup Pieces Beginning To Come Together For Arizona State Wrestling

Arizona State has competed in just three dual meets and two tournaments thus far and at no time have the Sun Devils had a complete and healthy lineup. Coach Zeke Jones maintains that it’s coming.

As naysayers might say, ‘so is Christmas.’ But Jones is hopeful when that lineup is unwrapped post-Christmas that it will be the gift that keeps on giving.

“We should be good to go,” said Jones, who provided a roster update after a two-week break and an appearance at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. 

He said Richie Figueroa, the nation’s #1 recruit in 2021, is expected to make his season debut at 125 at the Reno Tournament of Champions Dec. 15-17. 

“He almost could have wrestled in Vegas, but he hadn’t gone live yet, so no need,” Jones said. “But he’ll be competing next week and then in Chicago (at the Midlands Dec. 29-30). “I know he’s excited to wrestle.”

All-America heavyweight Cohlton Schultz, who doubles as a Greco-Roman star on the international circuit, also is set to return. 

“Cohlton has a December qualifying match for the Olympic Trials, and he’s already in the finals of that qualifying national tournament in a couple of weeks,” Jones said. “He'll be back by the Midlands or Iowa State (Jan. 5), for sure. He's healthy and ready to go; he's been training and he's getting his folkstyle skills back.”

Jones took a 10-man squad — but down four starters — to the Cliff Keen. Jacori Teemer was runner-up at 157 and Kyle Parco was third at 149. Teemer is back to full health after sitting out last season with a torn pectoral muscle.

“I think he feels good,” Jones said. “Of course, not winning the tournament was a disappointment for him. However, I think he realizes, ‘OK, I feel good, I'm ready to go, my body's healthy, my mind feels good.’ Yeah, I think he was happy overall.”

Overall in Vegas, it was a step in the right direction. 

“We have a ways to go. I think we've got some areas we need to improve on,” Jones said. “I think we just have to continue to get better at wrestling, and that's the main thing. 

“That tournament was obviously the best tournament in the country this year — a little, mini national tournament — and I think Kyle and Jacori showed that they'll be deep into the NCAA tournament at the end. The other guys, I think, have to pick up the pace and just improve on their wrestling skills. If they do that, they can get on the podium at the end of the season.”

Larkin To The Midlands

Jones said freshman redshirt Kaleb Larkin, who won the Bill Farrell Memorial Olympic Trials qualifier at 65 kilos in November, will compete at The Midlands. 

“That will be fun because he had such a good freestyle tournament a couple of weeks ago, now he’s gonna take a swing at some folkstyle and see what that feels like,” Jones said. “It will be fun to have him there.”

The Recruiting Scene

The Sun Devils are still working on their Class of 2024 recruiting haul. They’ve signed Pierson Manville, a state champion from State College, Pennsylvania, and Joseph Manfredi, a state titlist from Herrick High School in New Hyde Park, New York. 

Additionally, there could be news of another high-ranking ASU commit in the next few days.

NCAA President Touts NIL Idea

Charlie Baker, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association since March, this week proposed a shift in governance that would effectively enable big-money athletic departments to directly compensate athletes, by allowing each to create an enhanced educational trust fund for them, as explained by USA Today. This transcends current Name-Image-Likeness dealings.

If it does materialize in the future, it is designed around Division I football and basketball. However, the report included far-reaching results as possibly having no limits on the number of scholarships awarded in a particular sport or sports.

ASU’s Jones was made aware of the news and philosophized that the NCAA and Congress have “opened up a can of worms” that must be figured out and now people are coming up with ideas.

“I just don't know if it's a good one or not,” Jones said. “If it's gonna be helpful for overall sports or professionalizing college athletics and only have a couple of sports, I don't know where this thing is headed. But somebody needs to figure it out soon before there are a lot of casualties.”

While Olympic sports may not be on the minds of legislators and administrators, the trickle-down effect typically is within the realm of possibility.

“When you're playing a game, and sports is a game, there's an object to the game, and there are rules to the game,” Jones said. “I think we need to remember that. Just like when you open a box of Monopoly, or cards, or any sport, there's an object to the game and rules to the game. I don't know if we should be doing this with a game where we just say, ‘hey, play the game, there are no rules.’ I just don’t know how we can do that. 

“Part of the fun of the game is you can't go outside lines; you have to play within the rules. So I just don't know if they are eliminating all the rules, then is it really a game anymore? Is it fun? Who's gonna play it? And what's the object? So, I don't know.”