Smooth Transition: ASU, GCU Wrestling Usher in New Eras

The buildup is over now that the wrestling room is officially underway.

Arizona State and Grand Canyon both won the press conference when each hired new coaches that were well received nationally.

The Sun Devils brought in Zeke Jones, a former Sun Devil All-American, who brings a winning pedigree and name recognition with ties to the U.S. Olympic team, while the Lopes hired Jon Sioredas who came to Arizona via Tennessee where he was head assistant at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

The transition season is always interesting as coaches have a room filled mostly of wrestlers they are seeing for the time.

The tear down and rebuilding process takes some time but the 2014-2015 schedule doesn’t wait for the development to full take place.

The Sun Devils already competed in the Daktronics Open in South Dakota with junior national qualifier Blake Stauffer (184) and sophomore transfer Dalton Brady, a four-time state champ at Chandler, winning titles at 184 and 133, respectively.

The lineup will have a different will have different looks this season as Jones finds out what he has to work with as the program moves forward.

“I like the prospects for the season,” Jones said on thesundevils.com. “I think we’re in the beginning phase of our year, and we’re building a system, trying to develop a culture within the program, and I like where we are. Our health, technique, conditioning, tactics are all in a good spot and we will continue to develop.”

Junior Ray Waters (174) and sophomore Oliver Pierce (157) were runner-ups to give the Sun Devils, whose first home match is Nov. 21 against Utah Valley, four in the finals.

The Lopes travel are in the Colorado Open this weekend and then host Utah Valley on Nov. 22.

Before they left this weekend GCU held an outdoor match on the campus – by the Student Union building – to get the blood flowing and the teams tied at 12. 

“It was a great idea to push it up in the day,” Sioredas on gculopes.com. “We had tons of foot traffic. I think it stimulated some interest. We were hoping to catch the lunch crowd and it filled up to where we had to pull out some extra seating.” 

The Lopes have a strong contingent of Arizona wrestlers on the roster as the team heads toward Division I compliance after winning the NCWA Championships, which provides post season opportunities to programs in similar situations and those colleges and universities that don’t have programs at the NCAA level.

Some of the recognizable names include Austin Gaun (Flagstaff), Kevin Hunt (Sunrise Mountain) and Bryant Wood (Horizon).

It should lead to an interesting season as both programs look to build on past success under new leadership.

There is a new vibe surrounding college wrestling in Arizona and all it can become in the years to come.

And it starts now.