Salmon derby to honor vets

The Southern Oregon University wrestling team will host its inaugural All American Salmon Derby on Saturday, Sept. 11, at Lex's Landing on the Rogue River bay at Gold Beach to give anglers a fun avenue for honoring America's servicemen and women.

Preregistered anglers will fish the Rogue bay for fall chinook, with top prizes in various categories of $400 in cash and gear, says Mike Ritchey, the team's head coach and organizer of the event.

The derby will be on the ninth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

The derby includes a youth division for anglers under 18, an adult division and an American Heroes division for current and former members of the military, as well as police, firefighters and rescue workers.

"That's where the 9-11 theme comes in," Ritchey says. "My slogan is 'Freedom to Fish,' and this highlights that we live in a country where we can do this."

Several ex-SOU wrestlers have gone on to careers in law enforcement and firefighting, Ritchey says. Also, current freshman wrestler Juan Aguilar previously served in the military in Iraq, and senior Ron Lee's brother, Travis Lee, was in a command position while serving in the Middle East.

Winners will be decided by the weight of the chinook they catch. The final weigh-in will be at 4 p.m. at Lex's Landing, 94224 North Bank Road.

The derby costs $35 to enter, with sign-ups being taken up to 7:30 a.m. on derby day at Lex's Landing.

Proceeds will go toward SOU's wrestling program.

For more information and to sign up, visit and click on the SOU wrestling page.

The trip is considered a community-service venue for the wrestling team, which will conduct a wrestling clinic while on the coast earlier that week.

Ritchey says the wrestling program hopes to make this an annual affair, and that overall prizes will be based upon donations and derby registrations.

Ritchey also is looking for benefactors to sponsor some local veterans in the derby.

For more information, call Ritchey at 541-944-7259.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail

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