Wrestlers Take Fifth at Las Vegas Invitational

Dec. 3, 2005

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The 2005 Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational came to a close Saturday night inside the Cashman Center with the No. 18 Arizona State University wrestling team placing fifth in the 52-team tournament. Michigan won the event with 127 points while Cornell (110.0), Missouri (97.5), Edinboro (92.0) and ASU (91.0) rounded out the Top 5 teams.

In all, five Sun Devils competed on the day with two wrestlers, Jeremy Mendoza (125) and Cain Velasquez (285) each reaching the finals of their respective weight classes. Overall, all five student-athletes placed among the Top 8 in the prestigious event.

Mendoza, who entered the weekend at a perfect 7-0 on the season, went 4-1 to finish second in the event as the No. 2 seed. He opened the final day of the tournament with a 6-2 decision over Bryce Leonhardt (Wyoming) to advance to the championship bout where he fell, 7-4, to Cornell's No. 16 Troy Nickerson.

ASU's other finalist was Velasquez, who looked to defeat Greg Wagner of Michigan, the No. 1 seed in the tournament and No. 3-ranked wrestler in the nation, and avenge two of his five losses from one year ago. The Sun Devil big man was unsuccessful, however, as he absorbed a 6-1 decision for his first loss on the season, snapping his 15-bout winning streak. Velasquez advanced to the finals by winning his opening bout of the day in a rematch of the NCAA tournament from last year as Velasquez defeated No. 3 seed Bode Ogunole (Harvard), 3-1, in the semifinals.

Pat Payne (149) completed a very busy stay in Las Vegas as he wrestled in four more bouts Saturday to bring his total to nine in two days. After a first round loss and four-consecutive wins in the consolation round one day earlier, Payne picked up where he left off as he won twice in a row before No. 2 seed Tyler Turner downed Payne, 4-0. The Sun Devil then took fifth place when his opponent forfeited because of injury.

Patrick Pitsch (165) improved to 13-3 on the season after winning his first three bouts of the day before falling in the third-place bout. Pitsch won decisions of 5-2 and 6-5 before downing No. 15 Mike Poeta of Illinois to earn a place in the consolation finals. In the final match, No. 16 Steve Anceravage (Cornell) scored an 8-6 decision over Pitsch to give the Sun Devil fourth place.

Ryan Bader (197), who had finished second in this event two times before and was the No. 1 seed in 2005, rebounded from his quarterfinal loss one day earlier to win four bouts in a row and finish third overall. Bader opened the day with a win by fall at 4:56 before taking two, one-point decisions, including a 2-1 defeat of No. 11 Tyrone Byrd of Illinois.

In the consolation final, Bader scored a 7-4 defeat of No. 12 Matt Monteiro of Cal Poly, who once battled with Bader as a member of the CS Bakersfield team two years ago. With the victory, Bader now stands 99-36 in his Sun Devil career and needs just one more victory to record 100 in his career.

Following a weekend off from competition, the Sun Devils will return to the state of Nevada for their final action of the 2005 calender year when they take part in the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18.

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