Arizona State Wrestlers Honored at Annual Team Banquet

April 14, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State wrestling team honored its members Wednesday evening with its annual awards banquet, held inside the Hobbs Family Stadium Club of the Carson Student-Athlete Center on campus. Seven awards were bestowed upon members of the squad that went 11-8 overall with a 6-1 record in Pac-10 duals. The Sun Devils, who finished 26th at the NCAA Wrestling Championships two weeks after tying for fifth place in the conference meet, also said good-bye to a pair of seniors that had spent five years with the team.

Head Coach Thom Ortiz opened the award presentations with honoring the team's Most Valuable Freshman. This season, Brian Stith (Fr., Hampton, Va.) and Christian Staylor (Fr., Chesapeake, Va.) shared the award after each wrestler recorded 20-win seasons. Staylor, competing at 125 pounds, wrestled to a 26-14 record and his first NCAA meet appearance where he went 2-2. Staylor placed in three of five tournaments this season, including runner-up honors at the Reno Tournament of Champions and fourth at the Pac-10 meet. Stith, who competed at 157 pounds, built a 24-13 overall record in his rookie campaign. Although he did not place at the conference competition, Stith opened the season with a 13-3 record and placed third at the Missouri Open.

Jeremy Mendoza (So., Temecula, Calif.), after jumping up two weight classes from his freshman season, was honored with the Most Valuable Sophomore award. With a 12-18 record at 141 pounds, Mendoza went into the Pac-10 championships unseeded and walked out as the sixth-place finisher. Patrick Williams (Jr., Homestead, Fla.) was selected as the Most Valuable Junior following a campaign that saw him ranked in the Top 15 at 149 pounds for most of the season. With his 29-14 record, Williams finished second at the Pac-10 Championships before advancing to his first NCAA meet where he went 2-2.

Nick Frost (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.) was chosen as the Most Valuable Senior after spending most of the season ranked in the national Top 10 at 184 pounds. Frost compiled a 24-7 overall record and fought off a mid-season injury to return and go 13-0 and win his second Pac-10 title in a row, this time up two weight classes. Junior Clifford Starks (Phoenix, Ariz.) was honored with the team's Most Improved Wrestler award after filling in mid-season for an injured Cain Velasquez (So., Yuma, Ariz.) at heavyweight. Although Starks was only 12-11 overall on the year, he turned many heads as he came out of nowhere to finish third at the Pac-10 meet and earn a berth into the NCAA Wrestling Championships for the first time.

Ryan Bader (So., Verdi, Nev.) capped his stellar sophomore campaign with the team's Most Valuable Wrestler award. At 33-8 overall, Bader, who was ranked in the national Top 3 for the majority of the season, won his second Pac-10 title at 197 pounds before going 4-2 at the NCAA meet to finish fourth and earn his first All-America honor. His All-America honor kept intact a running tradition of 30 years in a row that at least one Sun Devil grappler has attained the highest national accolade.

The final award of the night, the Bill Quinn Memorial Award, was bestowed upon Ron Renzi (Sr., Burke, Va.). Renzi capped his ASU career with a 16-13 record and was one place away from advancing to the NCAA meet as he took fourth at the conference championships. Renzi will go down in the wrestling record books as one of the fastest pinners in the history of the program as he won his second round Las Vegas Invitational bout over Dana College's Marshall Marquardt this season with a pin at seven seconds.

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