Stith Leads ASU Wrestlers with Two Wins at NCAA Championships

March 15, 2007

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - It was a tough start for three of the four members of the Arizona State University wrestling team, but all four competitors ended the first day of the NCAA Wrestling Championships Thursday night with a victory in the tournament being held inside the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich. Brian Stith, the second-seed at 157 pounds, won both of his bouts to continue his push toward a national title.

Stith, who needs to win his quarterfinal bout Friday morning to guarantee his third All-American honors, opened the day with a 7-3 decision over Newly McSpadden of Oklahoma State at 157 pounds before downing Rider's Nathan Galloway, 5-2, in the second round. Stith, a national finalist one year ago, will face seventh-seeded Craig Henning of Wisconsin in the quarterfinals Friday.

No. 11 Patrick Pitsch (165), Greg Gifford (184) and Jason Trulson (197) each opened with a loss Thursday, all coming in very different ways. Pitsch dropped a close, 6-4, decision to Mike Miller of Central Michigan to fall to the consolation bracket where he faced Chris Vondruska of Ohio State. In that bout, Pitsch pinned his Buckeye foe in 3:53 to advance and will take on Justin Fraga of Purdue Friday. Pitsch needs to win his next three bouts in a row to earn his first All-America honor.

In the heavier weights, Gifford drew a tough opening round foe and fell in an 11-3 major decision to undefeated and top-ranked Jake Hebert of Northwestern. The transfer from Fresno State rebounded with his own major decision victory, eliminating Jared Ricotta of Duquesne, 15-4, and will now face Shawn Vincent of Northern Colorado in the consolation third round. Gifford is three wins away from his first All-America honors.

The final Sun Devil to take the mats was Trulson where the 197-pound Sun Devil went into overtime on two occasions. Also three wins from All-America honors, Trulson opened with a tough 7-3 loss to No. 10 Wynn Michalak (CMU) after the Chippewa scored a takedown and two near-fall points in the sudden victory period. In the consolation round, Trulson also went to sudden victory with David Mendoza where the Sun Devil scored a takedown nine seconds into the extra session for the victory. Trulson will now face Travis Gardner of Oregon State, the same foe he defeated, 13-1, in the third-place bout of the Pac-10 Championships.

Competition continues Friday morning.

2007 NCAA Wrestling Championships - Thursday Results
Palace of Auburn Hills - Auburn Hills, Mich.
Number before wrestler indicates tournament seed
157 - #2 Brian Stith (2-0)
First Round - #2 Stith decision Newly McSpadden (Oklahoma State), 7-3
Second Round - #2 Stith decision Nathan Galloway (Rider), 5-2
Quarterfinals - #2 Stith vs. #7 Craig Henning (Wisconsin)

165 - #11 Patrick Pitsch (1-1)
First Round - Mike Miller (Central Michigan) decision #11 Pitsch, 6-4
Conso Second - #11 Pitsch pinned Chris Vondruska (Ohio State), 3:53
Conso Third - #11 Pitsch vs. Justin Fraga (Purdue)

184 - Greg Gifford (1-1)
First Round - #1 Jake Hebert (Northwestern) major Gifford, 11-3
Conso First - Gifford major Jared Ricotta (Duquesne), 15-4
Conso Second - Gifford vs. Shawn Vincent (Northern Colorado)

197 - Jason Trulson (1-1)
First Round - #10 Wynn Michalak (Central Michigan) decision Trulson, 7-3 sv1
Conso Second - Trulson decision David Mendoza (Old Dominion), 5-3 sv1
Conso Third - Trulson vs. Travis Gardner (Oregon State)

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