Arizona State Wrestling Getting Full Lineup Together For Stretch Run

Arizona State Wrestling Getting Full Lineup Together For Stretch Run

It took more than half the season, but Arizona State finally put its full lineup together last weekend and the Sun Devils are excited about what they saw.

Feb 14, 2024 by Jim Carlson
Arizona State Wrestling Getting Full Lineup Together For Stretch Run

If you’re forced to wait … and wait … to put a full, healthy team together, then February would be the prime time to do it.

Arizona State’s injury list has read more like a book, but the Sun Devils finally put the 10 starters on the mat against Cal Poly on Feb. 9 that they had projected three months prior.

They’ve salvaged a 5-5 record and will close out the season without having to board an airplane, hosting #21 Stanford, #7 Lehigh and #8 Nebraska in the next week and a half.

The flight to a .500 season has not been without turbulence and the conclusion of the dual-meet season also could have its bumps, but a lineup being back intact brought a sigh of relief to the Sun Devils and their coach.

“It’s been a long time. It felt good to finally get a full team in against Cal Poly,” ASU coach Zeke Jones said. “The kids were excited. You could just tell having Jesse (Vasquez) in there. And Tony Negron back from an ankle that the confidence in the kids just felt good.”

ASU dropped a 28-9 decision to #2 Oklahoma State, bounced back to clip #23 Oregon State 19-17 and capped off the eight-day, Feb. 2-9 swing with a 34-4 win over Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo.

Each match had its highlights, and a few lowlights as well, just to mirror the Sun Devils’ season to date.

Against the Cowboys, ASU won where it was supposed to but didn’t get any upsets, according to Jones. 

“That’s always what we're always looking forward to, right. I mean, you want to win the dual, that's one; two, you're trying to move up in the seeds for the NCAA tournament.”

Jones is confident that his front five of Richie Figueroa, Julian Chlebove, Jesse Vasquez, Kyle Parco and Jacori Teemer can find a consistent stride into the postseason.

Figueroa (7-4) lost to Oklahoma State’s Troy Spratley and Oregon State’s Maximo Renteria at 125 before downing Cal Poly’s Dominic Mendez.

“Richie’s getting his rhythm back and he’s starting to look like himself again,” Jones said. “Last year he was 14-0, but he got a regular season where he got some warm-up matches before he got into the tough competition. He didn't get to do that this year. I think he's starting to turn the corner and his confidence is coming back and I think he's realizing he does have the skills.”

Chlebove (15-6) had a 2-1 lead on Oklahoma State’s third-ranked Daton Fix but gave up an escape and yielded a takedown with 15 seconds remaining. 

“That gave Julian the confidence that he believes he can beat anybody, and it showed in his next matches with Oregon State in the Cal Poly kids,” Jones said. “Julian's turning the corner now and the thing is we're out here in the West and people aren't paying attention real close, so it's probably a good thing. I think Julian's really just starting to do what we always thought he was capable of.”

Vasquez returned after rehabbing an elbow and won by tech fall against the Mustangs. “It was good to see him be excited about wrestling,” Jones said about Vasquez. 

Third-ranked Parco won his 100th career match against the Cowboys and is 35-2 in duals for his career. And Teemer, now #3 and 16-3 overall at 157, turned into a coach against Oregon State.

Teemer noticed that the Beavers’ Matthew Olguin had been bumping up to 174 to fill in for the injured Travis Wittlake, so he mentioned that to Jones and the Sun Devils inserted 165-pound freshman Nicco Ruiz, who is redshirting, and moved him to 174 where he defeated Olguin 6-3. 

“It was a big win for a true freshman, and he got really excited,” Jones said, pointing out that Ruiz had Penn State’s unbeaten Mitchell Mesenbrink on the brink during a 14-10 loss at the Journeymen Classic in November. “That was just a big win for Nicco and it’s just showing us when he and Kaleb Larkin come off redshirt, they're gonna be pretty good.”


The Sun Devils have 15 dates on their schedule and 10 have been away. They’re home until the Pac-12 Championships at Oregon State.

Stanford, 10-2 and ranked 21stt, comes to ASU on Saturday. 

“They had a great Vegas tournament and the matchups are pretty equal this weekend, so it will be a test,” Jones said.

Then it’s a pair of top-10 teams Feb. 24 and 25 against Lehigh and Nebraska. Lehigh has outstanding bookends in #2 Luke Stanich and #1 Ryan Crookham to open and #6 Michael Beard and #7 Nathan Taylor to close. Crookham hasn’t wrestled since Jan. 20.

Add #8 Nebraska the day after Lehigh and that’s a tough way to close the regular season. “Nebraska’s coming off a huge win against Michigan, they have Penn State this weekend, and then they finish up with us, so they're going through the gauntlet,” Jones said.

“It looks like they're peaking, and it looks like we are too; we’re coming into our best wrestling right now.”

Full Lineup Short-Lived

ASU will put the same lineup in the book against Stanford as it did against Cal Poly but will be down one for the final weekend.

Fourth-ranked heavyweight Cohlton Schultz (6-1), whose victory against Oregon State was the match winner for ASU, will be in Acapulco, Mexico, attempting to qualify his Greco-Roman 125-kilogram weight class at the Pan-Am Olympic Qualifier following the Pan-Am Championships. 

“That’s goofy, two back-to-back Pan-Ams, like seven days apart,” Jones said. “So the countries stay down in Acapulco for the full two weekends and unfortunately that knocks Cohlton out of a weekend (for ASU). 

“He’s gotta get the weight qualified and he should be the #1 seed, but it depends on first Pan-Am tournament whether he’ll be the first seed in the second Pan-Am tournament seven days later. But we’re blessed to have kids in position to make World and Olympic teams.”