ASU's Valencia basks in glow of an undefeated season and national championship

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Less than a week after winning a national championship, ASU wrestler Zahid Valencia is finding out what it’s actually like to be a “big man on campus.” (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Less than a week after winning a national championship, ASU wrestler Zahid Valencia is finding out what it’s actually like to be a “big man on campus.” (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Less than a week after winning a national championship, ASU wrestler Zahid Valencia is finding out what it’s actually like to be a “big man on campus.”

“It’s been crazy,” said the 20-year-old Valencia. “It’s been non-stop since my win. I’ve been getting a bunch of text messages and phone calls. I’m trying now to come back, relax and focus on school but I embrace it. I enjoy being out there.”

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Valencia (174 pounds) last week captured the 2018 national championship in front of 19,166 enthralled spectators at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.

“I mean it was awesome having all those people there,” said Valencia, whose parents were among those on hand. “Especially having the match with me and Mark – everyone was waiting for that so you could just feel the energy throughout all three days there.”

Valencia capped off a perfect 32-0 season by defeating Penn St.’s Mark Hall in the final 8-2. The victory was sweet revenge for Valencia who’s racked up a 2-year record of 70-1. His lone loss coming to Hall in the national semifinal in 2017.

“I was in a zone,” said Valencia. “That was the best I’ve ever wrestled against him. “I was hoping [I’d face him in the final] so finally getting that revenge, everything fit in perfectly. It was really great and incredible.”

Following ASU wrestling legends like Curly Culp and Anthony Robles, Valencia became the 11th Sun Devil wrestler to win a national championship.

“I mean it’s awesome to leave a legacy behind,” said Valencia. “Whenever people see the name “Robles”, they will also see my name and that’s just awesome. I will be able to walk away from this school and know that I left a part of me behind.”

With two years of eligibility remaining, Valencia could become ASU’s first-ever three-time national champion.

“That’s the plan,” said Valencia. “Hopefully I never lose [a match] again.”

And then perhaps, a golden opportunity awaits at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

“That’s also one of my goals,” said Valencia. “And that starts now. As coach [Zeke] Jones always says, another national championship would be great but we also want you to win worlds and the Olympics. I’m very excited for the future.”

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