Arizona State Wrestling Honors Team Members at Award Banquet

May 10, 2005

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University wrestling team held its annual banquet April 25 where Sun Devil Head Coach Thom Ortiz presented members of the 2005 Pac-10 Conference Champions with team honors. The banquet, which was held at the Orange Tree Golf Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., also was where the Sun Devils said good-bye to a pair of departing seniors.

The class awards led of the evening with Patrick Pitsch (Fr., Spanaway, Wash.) earning the Most Valuable Freshman Award following a rookie campaign that saw him finish with a 24-15 overall record. Pitsch, competing at 165 pounds, went 2-2 in his first NCAA Championship meet after posting a 3-1 record and placing third at the Pac-10 Championships two weeks earlier.

Brian Stith (So., Hampton, Va.), the team's 2004 Most Valuable Freshman, garnered the sophomore award this year after earning his first All-America honor by placing sixth at 157 pounds with a 33-12 record on the season. Stith also went 4-0 at the Pac-10 Championships and upset the defending conference and national champion (Matt Gentry of Stanford) to capture his first conference crown.

The Most Valuable Junior Award was given to Ryan Bader (Jr., Reno, Nev.) following a season in which he finished 31-8 overall and placed second at the Pac-10 tournament. The 2003 and 2004 conference champion at 197 pounds and All-American in 2004, Bader has built an 88-34 career record and is in position to become just the 12th Sun Devil to record 100 wins in a career.

The final class award went to Patrick Williams (Sr., Homestead, Fla.), who was selected as the Most Valuable Senior after going 25-11 in his final season with the team. Williams went 2-2 at the Pac-10 Championships to finish fifth before advancing to his second NCAA event in as many years where he also went 2-2. A transfer from Neosho College in 2003, Williams finished his ASU career with a 63-38 overall record while competing at 149.

Heavyweight Cain Velasquez (Jr., Yuma, Ariz.) was honored as the team's Most Valuable Wrestler following a dominating season in which he went 36-5 overall and finished fifth at the NCAA Championships to earn his first All-America honor. Starting on Jan. 4, Velasquez won 18 bouts in a row, including a 4-0 mark in the conference tournament that secured his first conference title. With a near perfect dual record at 16-1, Velasquez led the team with an 11-0 major decision record while adding four more wins by technical fall and three falls.

The final award of the evening was the Bill Quinn Memorial Award which was bestowed upon Clifford Starks (Sr., Phoenix, Ariz.). Wrestling behind two of the program's top heavyweights in Velasquez and Kellen Fluckiger (2003), Starks finished his career with a 19-14 overall record following a 7-3 senior season. Called upon to start at heavyweight toward the end of the 2004 season, Starks placed third at the Pac-10 tournament and advanced to the NCAA Championships.

In 2005, the Sun Devils captured their 15th Pac-10 Championship title on the strength of a pair of individual champions and two more finalists. From there, the duo of Stith and Velasquez led the Sun Devils to a 13th-place finish, the highest among Pac-10 teams, as each man earned his first All-America honor. Velasquez, who was later named the Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year, finished the national tournament in fifth place while Stith, appearing in his first NCAA event, placed sixth.

At the completion of the season, Ortiz also was chosen by a vote of the conference coaches as the 2005 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, his second time earning the honor in his tenure with the Sun Devils.

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