Velasquez, Mendoza Fighting for Titles at Las Vegas Invitational

Dec. 2, 2005

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The 2005 Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational opened inside the Cashman Center Friday morning with nine members of the Arizona State University wrestling team taking to the mats for the prestigious event. When the day ended, three Sun Devils had been eliminated from competition while two others remained in the hunt for individual crowns. As a team, ASU is currently tied for ninth place with UNC Greensboro with 44.0 points while Michigan (86.0), Cornell (72.5) and Missouri (68.0) round out the Top 3.

ASU's smallest and largest competitors made an impact on the day as Jeremy Mendoza (125) and Cain Velasquez (285), both seeded second in their respective weight classes, advanced to the semifinals following dominating performances on the mat. Velasquez never let one of his three bouts reach the second period as he pinned three opponents in times of 1:16, 1:45 and 2:45, respectively. Mendoza opened the day with a technical fall before picking up a major decision and a decision.

Four other Sun Devils remain in the competition, but will have to survive the consolation rounds to place as high as third overall. Ryan Bader (197), a two-time finalist, will not be making an appearance in this third final as he fell in the quarterfinals, 9-4, to the No. 8 seed, Daren Burns (UNCG). He will be joined in the consolation fifth round by fellow teammates Pat Payne (141), Brian Stith (157) and Patrick Pitsch (165).

Stith, who recently returned from a knee injury, won his first two bouts of the tournament before taking a medical forfeit in the quarterfinals. He may compete Saturday. Pitsch lost a tough 6-4 decision in sudden victory in the quarterfinals and now will need to win his first consolation bout to earn a place in the Top 8 of the event. Payne has had the toughest route of all Sun Devils as he fell in his first round match, 3-1, to No. 8 Joe Ecklof (Pittsburgh) before winning four consolation bouts in a row to remain alive. In the wrestle backs, he has yet to be scored on, winning 8-0, 4-0, 5-0 and 9-0.

Adam Hickey (133), Jamie Robbins (174) and Jason Trulson (184) also competed for the Sun Devils, but were eliminated from the event on the first day. Hickey and Robbins each won on bout before being bounced from the bracket while Trulson lost his opening match and then took a medical forfeit in the consolation rounds.

The Sun Devils conclude their stay in Las Vegas Saturday.

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