ASU harvests good crop of wrestlers in coach’s 2nd year

Shawn Charles is preparing for just his second season as Arizona State’s wrestling coach, but he thinks he has the foundation in place to begin taking the Sun Devils back to prominence.

Charles, who replaced Thom Ortiz last season after his eight years at the helm, came from the University of Missouri, where he was an assistant coach.  He is just the sixth head coach in the program’s 47-year history.

He has just two head coaching stops on his 15-year resume, a year spent at Phoenix College when he was getting started and another one-year layover at Fresno State in 2005-06.

But the man does know how to win.

Charles is one of the more successful wrestlers in ASU history.  He was a two-time Pac-10 champion during his 1990-93 career as a Sun Devil, a four-time All-American, and twice the national runner-up.  He finished his ASU career with 103 victories at the 126 weight class.

Oh yeah, he is an Arizona native and went to Santa Rita High School in Tucson – where he won three state titles.

And now he has gone out into the countryside to round up a group of 11 recruits that he feels will be the beginning of the program’s resurgence.  Eight are right out of high school, many of whom were multiple state title-winners, and three are transfers who will bring collegiate experience with them.

Charles and his staff have been working the recruiting landscape from as far north as Alaska to the east side of the country up in North Carolina.  Only three of the 11 just signed are from Arizona.  Two are coming straight from high school and one is a local high school product that is transferring back to the state after testing the waters in the Big Ten.

And they are all winners.

Luke Macchiaroli attended Corona del Sol HS in Tempe before redshirting a year at Penn State.  At Corona, he was a three-time state champion at 197 that finished his high school career with an impressive 176-9 record and not a single loss his last two years.

Derek Felton also attended Corona del Sol, but is coming directly to the ASU program.  He is a four-time state finalist and two-time champion at 171 that went 99-0 in his last two years.

Shane McGough is coming from Desert Mountain HS in Scottsdale where he he was a four-time state finalist and three-time champion.  He went 43-0 as a senior to win the 125 title.

The eight high school grads in the group of 11 have an impressive pedigree as a whole, having combined for 17 state titles and six runner-up finishes.  Nathan Hoffer from Alaska and Louis Trujillo from New Mexico are both four-time state champions.

Perhaps the most recognizable name on the list is that of Bubba Jenkins, who is transferring in from Penn State where he was the 2008 NCAA runner-up at 149 lbs. and ranked among the Top 10 nationally.  He was a three-time national qualifier for the Nittany Lions before sitting out last year.  He will have just one year of eligibility left to give to ASU.

He will join with returning senior, Anthony Robles, a two-time All-American and two-time Pac-10 champion at 125, to begin the rebuilding process for a program that has faltered in recent years.  The Devils were 5-8 overall and 3-4 in conference last year, finishing fifth in the Pac-10.  They had a fourth-place conference finish the year before, and fifth place in 2007.

Jenkins will represent the Sun Devils next year.  But the others may not.

Charles is considering redshirting all but Jenkins.  He says “it will give them a chance to get acclimated to the program and to their academic studies.”

But what he’s doing is building for the future.

During his wrestling career at ASU, the Sun Devils won three Pac-10 championships, were in the Top 6 nationally during three seasons, and finished 1990 as the national runner-up.

Charles remembers those years – and wants to get on the road back.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)