Thom Ortiz, the head coach of the Arizona State University wrestling program, announced Thursday his coaching staff for the 2008-09 campaign with Al Fuentes, Brian Stith and Zach Roberson set to work with the Sun Devils as they prepare for their 47th varsity season. Both Fuentes and Stith will serve as assistant coaches while Roberson will continue on as a volunteer assistant coach.
“I am excited about the staff we have put together here this year,” Ortiz said. “Al will bring a new perspective to the program and will challenge our wrestlers to not only excel on the mats, but also in life. I am pleased to have Stith and Roberson back again this season as both played vital roles in the continued growth of many of the younger wrestlers we had in the line up last year. With all three of these coaches working with me, I am very confident that our student-athletes will continue to grow, both on the mat and off, and bring Arizona State back to the top of the standings.”
Fuentes joins the program after working locally at a sports/life performance coaching company he began in 2007 and will work with the lower weight classes on the team. A collegiate wrestler at the University of Findlay (Ohio), Fuentes competed at 142 pounds and attained All-America honors in 1997 and 1998 after finishing third and second, respectively. A member of the 1995 NAIA National Championship team that was coached by NAIA Coach of the Year John Jeffre, as well as former Russian champion Miron Kharchilava, Cuban Olympian Alberto Rodriguez and Penn State All-American Shawn Nelson, Fuentes also excelled off the mat as he was a three-time Academic All-American before earning his degree in Environmental Safety and Occupation Health Management in 1998.
Following his collegiate career, Fuentes worked as the Coordinator of Sports Marketing at UF while also serving as a volunteer assistant coach. The native of Liberty Center, Ohio, was a two-time state placer at the Ohio high school championships for Liberty Center High School.
Returning to the coaching staff this season with former Sun Devil All-American Stith and former Iowa State NCAA Champion Roberson, both entering their second seasons. Stith will replace Eric Larkin as a full-time assistant coach following Larkin’s departure to pursue other career and competitive options.
“Eric will be missed,” Ortiz said. “But, now that the  Olympic Trials are over, I respect his desire to pursue other dreams. This entire program will continue to help him in his new goals in any way we can.”
Stith, a two-time NCAA All-American and two-time Pac-10 Conference Champion for the Sun Devils, will continue his work with the middle weights this season. The 2006 national runner-up at 157 pounds and 2007 graduate of ASU (B.S. in Tourism), Stith currently ranks 12th on the ASU all-time victories list with a career record of 114-33 while standing eighth all-time in career dual wins with a 55-16 record. A leader on the mat, Stith helped the Sun Devils to a pair of Pac-10 team titles (2005, 2006) while also helping the team to two Top 15 placements at the NCAA Championships (13th in 2005 and sixth in 2006).
Roberson, who was recruited to ISU by Ortiz when he was an assistant with the Cyclones, was a three-time All-American and captured the 133-pound national title in 2004, his senior season. A 2004 graduate from ISU (B.S. in Engineering), Roberson is ranked among the top American freestyle wrestlers at 60kg (132 pounds) and recently competed up in weight (66kg) at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials - Wrestling.