On the 30th anniversary of the Arizona State wrestling program’s only national title, it is somewhat fitting that the Sun Devils are in Cleveland for the national championships this week.
The 1988 team had a strong Ohio contingent and started a string of recruits from the Buckeye State in the years to follow.
It started with head coach Bobby Douglas, who was from Bellaire and was a state champion at Bridgeport High.
He knew the quality of wrestling in his home state surpassed any state on the West Coast so he went to work bringing in Ohio wrestlers to the ASU program.
The 1998 team was led by captain Mike Davies, a state champion from Chardon, as he was a two-time All-American and finished as a runner-up in 1988.
Dan St. John, who never won state for St. Joseph, finished third in 1988 and went on to be a two-time national champion.
The national title and Ohio influence led to more Buckeyes coming to Tempe in the years to follow.
Markus Mollica of Walsh Jesuit was a four-time All-American and two-time national champ (1993-96), Upper Arlington state champion Rex Holman was a Pac-12 champion in 1991, Lorain Southview’s GT Taylor was a two-time All-American (1990-91), Steve St. John, who was a three-time state champ at St. Joseph, was a three-time All-American (1994-96).
Douglas left Arizona State for Iowa State after the 1991 season and the recruiting pipeline from Ohio to Tempe ended soon thereafter, as did the best stretch in Arizona State history.
The Sun Devils finished as national runners-up in 1989 and 1990, and haven’t finished higher than fourth in the 27 years that followed.
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.