ASU's Velasquez Wrestler, Ortiz Coach of the Year in Pac-10 Wrestling

March 30, 2005

2005 Pac-10 Awards Release (pdf)
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TEMPE, Ariz. - Two members of the Arizona State University wrestling program were selected as award winners by the Pac-10 Conference it was announced Wednesday by Commissioner Tom Hansen. Sun Devil Head Coach Thom Ortiz was honored as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year while heavyweight Cain Velasquez was selected as the Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year. Both awards, which were distributed based upon the votes of the conference's coaches, were the 14th of their kind for the ASU wrestling program in the 30 years the conference has presented the annual honors.

Velasquez (Jr., Yuma, Ariz.) compiled a stellar 36-5 record on the year en route to not only winning his first Pac-10 championship title at heavyweight, but also attain his first All-America honor as a member of the Sun Devil program. The ASU big man went on a 16-winning streak in bouts wrestled in January and February before going 4-2 at the NCAA Championships as the No. 3 seed. Velasquez capped the three day national event with a fifth-place finish and helped the team to a 13th-place finish, the highest in the Pac-10.

Ortiz earned his second coach of the year award from the conference after leading the Sun Devils to their 15th Pac-10 team title with two individual champions and another two finalists at the meet held in San Luis Obispo, Calif. His team went 11-6-1 overall on the season with a perfect 8-0 record against conference foes before the championship run at the Pac-10 meet and 13th-place finish at the NCAA meet.

Seven of his wrestlers advanced to the NCAA Championships with two, Velasquez and Brian Stith (So., Hampton, Va.) at 157, each earning their first All-America honors. A two-time All-American for the Sun Devils and a member of the program's 1988 NCAA Championship team, Ortiz adds the coaching honor to his mantle that includes the same honor following the 2003 season.

Ortiz joins his collegiate head coach, Bobby Douglas, and his predecessor, Lee Roy Smith, as conference coaches of the year with Douglas earning the honor eight times and Smith four during their tenures. Just as an ASU coach has earned the honor 14 times in program history, the wrestlers also have collected 14 awards. Velasquez, the eighth different recipient, is the first Sun Devil heavyweight to earn the accolade and the first ASU grappler since Eric Larkin won his third honor in a row in 2003.

Other Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year honorees from the Sun Devil program include Gary Bohay (1983), Eddie Urbano (1985), Adam Cohen (1986), Mike Davies (1987 & 1988), Dan St. John (1989 & 1990), Ray Miller (1992 & 1993), Steve Blackford (2000) and Larkin (2001, 2002 & 2003).