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Jill Lieber
March 28, 1988
Arizona State broke the state of Iowa's grip on the NCAAs
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March 28, 1988

A Cactus Supplants Corn

Arizona State broke the state of Iowa's grip on the NCAAs

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?Rob Koll, North Carolina's 158-pounder, pinned Joe Pantaleo of Michigan in 1:14 to get the only fall in the finals. Koll's father, Bill, was a three-time NCAA champ at Northern Iowa.

? Iowa State's Mike Van Arsdale defeated Mike Amine of Michigan 8-2 at 167 pounds to give the home crowd something to cheer about.

?Royce Alger of Iowa won his 78th straight match—and his second NCAA crown—by edging Dan Mayo of Penn State 6-4 at 177.

?Heavyweight Carlton Haselrig, the Division II champ from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, won his second straight title by thrashing Oregon State's Dave Orndorff 12-2.

But nothing better demonstrated wrestling's new diversity than the triumph of Douglas, a two-time Olympian at 138� pounds and the only black in the sport's Hall of Fame. In his 14 years at Arizona State, he has had to contend with the traditional powers—not only on the mat, but in the recruiting arena, where his resources are limited. The uphill battle for talent keeps Douglas on the road at least 100 days a year.

The pain of Douglas's past is written on his face: He rarely smiles. When he was born, his father was in prison. At age three, he watched a stranger plunge a butcher knife into his mother's chest seven times. She survived, but Douglas says, "That messed me up pretty good. He wasn't trying to kill only my mother. He was trying to kill me, too."

Douglas persevered on inner strength, and he demands that his wrestlers be strong, too. Sun Devil practices—seven days a week, up to five hours a day—are merciless. Nearly every Saturday at 7 a.m., the wrestlers run Squaw Peak, a mountain 12 miles north of Tempe. Douglas greets them at the top with his stopwatch. Sixteen minutes is his mid-season deadline. "The course is about a mile and three quarters—straight up," says Jones. "The new guys usually collapse."

Douglas's afternoon workouts are even more grueling. Sun Devil wrestlers are pitted against former All-Americas and members of the Sunkist Kids, the nation's top freestyle club, which Douglas also coaches. "He'll send six or seven smaller wrestlers at you—one at a time—for three-minute matches," says Davies. "When it's over, you throw up or threaten to quit. For sure you ask, 'Why couldn't I have been a normal college student?' "

After that ordeal the Arizona State wrestlers run 30-yard sprints—at least 60 of them, sometimes as many as 120. Three times a week they finish up in the weight room.

Douglas is just as demanding when it comes to his athletes' academic performance. Because the Sun Devils spend most of their season on the road in search of competitive dual matches, hotel lobbies and airport terminals become study halls. More than half the members of the '88 team have at least a B average in majors like engineering and business.

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