Velasquez Fifth, Stith Sixth, Sun Devil Wrestling Team 13th at NCAA Tourney
March 19, 2005
TEMPE, Ariz. - After a one year hiatus, the Arizona State University wrestling team is back among the Top 20 teams in the nation as the Sun Devils finished the 2005 NCAA Wrestling Championships in 13th place Saturday inside the Savvis Center in St. Louis, Mo. On the strength of two All-Americans, the Sun Devils accumulated 39.5 points to finish in the Top 20 for the 27th time in the last 29 years. Oklahoma State ran away with the crown with 153 points, nearly doubling national runner-up Michigan and its 83 points. Oklahoma (77.5), Cornell (76.5) and Minnesota (72.5) rounded out the Top 5 teams.
Individually, Brian Stith (So., Hampton, Va.) and Cain Velasquez (Jr., Yuma, Ariz.) each attained All-America status one day earlier and went out Saturday to battle for a finish as high as third place and no lower than sixth. In the heavyweight bracket, third-seeded Velasquez, who fell in the semifinals Friday, met fifth-seeded Greg Wagner of Michigan in the consolation semifinals and could not find a way to bring the Wolverine down and dropped the bout, 4-1.
Velasquez was relocated to the fifth/sixth place battle where he met No. 6 Matt Feast of Pennsylvania. In Friday's quarterfinal action, Velasquez handed Feast a 4-2 loss and looked to do the same Saturday. When the bout was over, Velasquez again won, this time 5-1, to finish fifth in the nation.
Stith, who was seeded tenth at 157 pounds, unfortunately did not fare as well as his teammate as he dropped both of his bouts on the day and finished sixth in the nation. In the consolation semifinals, Stith face Ohio's Jake Percival, the No. 5 seed, and took his opponent to overtime tied at two. In an action filled extra session, Stith took a shot, Percival scrambled and finished a shot of his own, resulting in a takedown and a 4-2 defeat of Stith. In the fifth/sixth bout, Stith again kept the match close with Brandon Becker of Indiana, but Becker was able to score a takedown and back points in the third and final period of the bout to secure a 10-6 win.
The ASU All-Americans both made the most of their seasons this year as each also won Pac-10 titles. Stith, who went 0-2 at the conference meet a year ago, finishes the season 33-12 following his first NCAA appearance while Velasquez, a 2002 NJCAA champion at Iowa Central, earned his first Division I honors after posting a 36-4 record on the season.
ASU led the Pac-10 Conference at the national event this year as the lone team placing among the Top 20. Cal State Bakersfield scored 27 points to finish 22nd while Cal Poly rounded out the Top 25 with 22 points and a 25th-place finish. All 10 teams in the league scored, including Boise State (t-33rd, 12 points), Stanford (37th, 10), Oregon State (t-39th, 8.5), Oregon (t-42nd, 7), Cal State Fullerton (t-52nd, 4), Portland State (59th, 3) and UC Davis (60th, 2.5). Overall, five Pac-10 wrestlers earned All-America status. Joining Stith and Velasquez were Efren Ceballos (CSB) and Vic Moreno (CPU), who finished fifth and sixth, respectively at 125, and Matt Sanchez (CSB) who finished fifth at 133 pounds.