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Hodge Trophy Frontrunner Suspended

valencia, zahid
Zahid Valencia after winning his third Pac-12 conference championship in 2019

The wrestling world was shocked today with the announcement of the indefinite suspension of Arizona State wrestling phenom Zahid Valencia. In a released statement, Arizona State said that: “Zahid Valencia has been suspended indefinitely from the ASU men’s wrestling team.”

Rumors and speculation are running rampant, but what we do know is that a source has said that Zahid Valencia tested positive of the use of a “recreational” substance after winning gold at the Matteo Pellicone International in Rome January 18th. There Zahid defeated fellow USA teammate Alex Dieringer 7-5. That competition was just a week after the smashing success of the Sun Devil Duals being hosted at Chase Field, the MLB home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Since his return from Rome, Zahid has posted a 3-0 record with wins by fall, tech fall, and decision all in Arizona State dual victories. Arizona State will need to rely on a new starter for their final two competitions before the Pac-12 Championships. The Sun Devils take on a very good Lehigh school tomorrow and finish the season against the University of North Carolina Sunday. For now, it appears that redshirt sophomore Austin Clayton will continue on his role as the starter. Austin was victorious in his two appearances last week against Cal-Bakersfield and Cal-Poly.

What does this mean not only for Zahid as the three-time All-American and returning back-to-back national champion sits in limbo? He must return by March 7th for the Pac-12 Championships to qualify and return to the national tournament. The sixth-ranked Sun Devils were expected to challenge for a team trophy and now it appears they could be without their Hodge Trophy favorite.

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