Pictured: The Arizona State Sun Devils’ wrestling team. As a team, ASU won the 2022 PAC-12 Championships on Sunday, March 6, 2022, inside Desert Financial Arena in Tempe, Arizona. Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo / PAC-12 Conference.
Last weekend, Arizona State, Oregon State, Cal Poly, Stanford, California State – Bakersfield, and Little Rock battled for a conference crown at the PAC-12 Wrestling Championships, hosted at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe, Arizona, March 6. It was an all-day affair that helped twenty-five wrestlers punch their ticket to Detroit.
Here are six takeaways (in no particular order) from the 2022 PAC-12 Championships.
ARIZONA STATE BECOMES THE WINNINGEST PAC-12 PROGRAM
Arizona State has taken home the PAC-12 title for three consecutive years. The program’s 2022 hardware makes the Sun Devils the 23-time PAC-12 Champions and the winningest program of all the PAC-12 team. ASU saw champions in six weight classes, which included Brandon Courtney (125), Michael McGee (133), Kyle Parco (149), Jacori Teemer (157), Kordell Norfleet (197), and Cohlton Schultz (285).
OSU’s COSTLY HEADGEAR SPIKE
Oregon State was as close to ASU as possible in the team race when all was said and done. The host school edged the visiting Beavers by just 0.5 points, 115-114.5. ASU clinched it thanks to a heavyweight win from Cohlton Schultz that followed a major decision from Kordell Norfleet in the finals. In January, Sun Devils defeated OSU 20-17 in their head-to-head regular-season dual.
Both ASU and OSU wrestled well on Sunday with a combined 11 finalists and seven combined champions. However, It’s also worth mentioning that Oregon State was deducted a single team point after Matt Olguin spiked his headgear following an upset win over Sun Devil two-time All-American Anthony Valencia in an earlier round. That penalty point was ultimately the margin of victory in the team race.
Simply put, you hate to see a winner and a runner-up of a major event awarded that way.
TRANSFERS PLAYED A BIG ROLE
Cal Poly Transfer, Evan Wick, ASU transfer Kyle Parco and OSU transfer Trey Munoz all picked up their first individual Pac 12 title. Each transfer gave their program a bit of padding and helped their teams stay completive. Munoz was formerly a Sun Devil, whereas Wick and Parco came from Wisconsin and Fresno State, respectively. Cory Crooks, who finished third at 149, also transferred from ASU. Gary Traub, a former OSU Buckeye turned OSU Beaver, affectionately known as “Gas Tank” Gary, was a runner-up.
COHLTON SCHULTZ VS. GARY TRAUB – THE CHEER-OFF
In the end, the team race came down to a battle of big men, ASU’s Cohlton Schultz and OSU’s Gary Traub. While Schultz narrowly got it done on the mat, fans were very vocal for Gary Traub. Beaver fans were heard loud and proud rooting on the Gary. In retaliation, ASU wrestlers and fans cheered on Schultz, saying things like, “Let’s go Cohlton,” and “ASU.” Schultz won by the smallest of margins, 2-1. While Cohlton won it, keeping it to a one-point margin has to be a confidence-building result for Traub heading into Detroit.
IN THE PAC-12, 165 POUDS RUNS DEEP
Two-time All-American Evan Wick (Cal Poly), 2021 NCAA champ Shane Griffith (Stanford), and two-time All-American and four-time PAC-12 champ Anthony Valencia (Arizona State) are all at 165 pounds. It’s a brutal weight. Wick won the title at 165 convincingly, but fans did get to see some great bouts between Griffith and Valencia and Wick and Griffith. It was one of the best weights to watch unfold in Tempe.
In Detroit, the weight will be compelling once again. The trio of PAC-12 products will be joined by Iowa’s Alex Marinelli, Mizzou’s Keegan O’Toole, Pitt’s Jake Wentzel, Wisconsin’s Dean Hamiti, and others who can all compete for a title.
LITTLE ROCK AND CAL POLY ARE YOUNG
Little Rock (sixth) and Cal Poly (fourth) finished the PAC-12 Championships near the bottom of the standings. However, both teams are quite young. The Trojans sent out eight underclassmen to wrestle, and the Mustangs of Cal Poly had seven underclassmen competing. With that, both teams will have a solid foundation to build upon moving forward into the 2022-23 season.
The PAC-12 Finalists
125: Brandon Courtney (ASU) dec. Brandon Kaylor (Oregon St.) , 3-1
133 : Michael McGhee (ASU) dec. Chance Rich (CSU-Bakersfield), 7-2
141:Real Woods (Stanford) major dec. Grant Willits (Oregon St.), 8-0
149: Kyle Parco (ASU) dec. Legend Lamer (Cal Poly), 11-5
157: Jacori Teemer (ASU) dec. Hunter Willits (Oregon St.), 3-1 SV-1
165: Evan Wick (Cal Poly) dec. Shane Griffith (Stanford), 8-7
174: Tyler Eischens (Stanford) dec. Adam Kemp (Cal Poly), 3-2 TB-1
184: Try Munoz Oregon St.) Fall Bernie Traux (Cal Poly ), 1:14
197: Kordell Knorfleet (ASU) major dec. Ryan Reyes (Oregon St.), 14-6
285: Cohlton Schultz (ASU) dec. Gary Traub (Oregon St.), 2-1
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
Oregon State 114.5
Cal Poly 88.5
CSU Bakersfield 83
Little Rock 71