Velasquez, Stith Garner All-America Status, Team Sits 12th at NCAA Tourney
March 18, 2005
TEMPE, Ariz. - A pair of Arizona State University wrestlers attained All-America honors Friday during competition at the 2005 NCAA Wrestling Championships being held at the Savvis Center in St. Louis, Mo. Both Brian Stith (So., Hampton, Va.) and Cain Velasquez (Jr., Yuma, Ariz.) will finish among the Top 8 in the nation at their respective weights and have helped the Sun Devils to a place among the Top 15 teams in the nation.
Following the second day of competition, ASU sits 12th in the team race with 38.5 points while two-time defending champion Oklahoma State is running away with its third crown with 127.5 points. Cornell (71.5), Michigan (67), Minnesota (66) and Oklahoma (64.5) round out the Top 5.
The All-America honors for the duo help maintain a streak of success the Sun Devil program has enjoyed over the years. In each of the last 31 years, including this season, ASU has returned from the NCAA Championships with at least one All-American. Velasquez is the 101st and Stith the 102nd All-American at ASU.
Velasquez, who is seeded third in the heavyweight division, opened the day with a 4-2 decision over No. 6 Matt Feast (Pennsylvania) in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 2 Cole Konrad of Minnesota, 6-2, in the semifinals. Despite the loss and subsequent fall to the consolation bracket, Velasquez will finish no lower than sixth in the national event. On Saturday, the Sun Devil big man will face No. 5 Greg Wagner of Michigan in the consolation semifinals with the winner fighting for third place later in the day. The loser will battle for fifth.
Stith, the tenth-seeded wrestler at 157, did not open the day the way he had hoped as he dropped a tough 4-2 decision to No. 2 Ryan Bertin of Michigan in the quarterfinals. But the Sun Devil, who is competing in his first NCAA tournament, bounced back in the consolation rounds and defeated Minnesota's C.P. Schlatter, 3-1, to earn All-America honors. He followed that with a 4-2 upset of No. 7 Matt Lebe of West Virginia. Stith will face No. 5 Jake Percival of Ohio in the consolation semifinals Saturday.
Winning results were not had by several other Sun Devils on the day as five other grapplers were bounced from the event. Both No. 12 Jeremy Mendoza (Jr., Temecula, Calif.) at 125 and Patrick Williams (Sr., Homestead, Fla.) at 149 were one win away from attaining their first All-America honors, but both lost in the consolation fourth round. Mendoza suffered a 6-2 decision at the hands of Robbie Preston of Hofstra while Williams dropped a 12-2 major decision to No. 4 Matt Storniolo of Oklahoma.
Patrick Pitsch (Fr., Spanaway, Wash.) at 165, No. 12 C.B. Dollaway (Jr., Mt. Gilead, Ohio) at 184 and No. 7 Ryan Bader (Jr., Reno, Nev.) at 197 each fell in third round action and were eliminated from competition. Pitsch dropped a close 9-6 decision to No. 12 Mike Patrovich of Hofstra while Dollaway was handed a 9-3 defeat by Eastern Michigan's Ed Magrys. Bader, who finished fourth in this tournament a year ago, defeated Joel Weimer of Ohio, 3-2, before being bounced from the event with an 8-2 loss to Joel Flaggert of Oklahoma.
ESPN will carry live action of the final day of the championships Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. CST as the sports network carries highlights of the entire tournament and the finals of all 10 weight classes.