Eric Larkin, the 1998 Arizona High School Wrestler of the Year and a four-time Pac-10 champion at Arizona State University, is in Payson this week to share his mat expertise with 150 aspiring prep grapplers attending the Arizona High Altitude Wrestling Camp.
Longtime local wrestling fans will remember Larkin’s visit to Payson in 1998 at the conclusion of his senior year at Tucson Sunnyside High School to participate in the Arizona All-Star match held in Wilson Dome. In addition to being named the state’s top prep wrestler that year, he was a two-time state champion with a 130-2 record.
After graduation from Sunnyside, Larkin went on to star at Arizona State and became one of only four Sun Devils to ever win four All-American honors.
He currently is ranked sixth on the ASU all-time win list with 123. Following a 34-0 record high senior season, he also received the Don Hodge Award for being the Outstanding Wrestler of the 2003 NCAA.
Throughout his collegiate career, Larkin steadily improved nationally, finishing fourth as a freshman, third as a sophomore and second as a junior.
In 2001, 2002 and 2003 he was named the Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year.
In 2003, he received the Pac-10 Medal of Honor and also that year was nominated for the ESPY Award as the “Best Collegiate Male Athlete.”
Larkin has also enjoyed success on the international wrestling scene entering the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials as a No. 3 seed at 145.5 pounds. In the prelims, he defeated the country’s No. 6 and No. 2 ranked wrestlers to advance to the finals where he dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker.
In 2005, Larkin won the Sunkist Kids/ASU International Open.
Larkin earned a business degree from ASU in 2003 and now lives in Tempe with his wife, Melissa and three sons.
Currently, he is in his third year as a bench coach for ASU in charge of working with wrestlers in the lower weight classes.