ASHLAND — Coming off a second-place run at the NAIA National Championships in March, the Southern Oregon wrestling program has added 25 student-athletes for the 2012-13 season, SOU head coach Mike Ritchey announced Tuesday.
Three Raiders claimed national titles in March and two of those individuals — Roseburg's Mitchell Lofstedt and former Crater High standout Brock Gutches — are slated to return to lead a corps of 35 returners on the 2012-13 team. An impressive group of newcomers will join the returners as the Raiders aim for the sixth national championship in program history.
A pair of NCAA Division I transfers lead the way in Prescott Garner and Taylor Johnson. Following a highly successful prep career at West Linn High, Garner posted a 28-14 record as a freshman at the U.S. Naval Academy and was an NCAA qualifier in the 133-pound weight class. He also spent a year at the University of Chattanooga at Tennessee, helping his team win the Southern Region championship.
Johnson, a native of Redmond, will transfer to SOU after previously attending Oregon State University. During his high school career at Redmond, Johnson won a pair of state titles at 197.
Three members of the recruiting class will join brothers on the SOU squad. Jake Stigall is a two-time state champion for North Marion High and will join brother Tyler at SOU. Central Point native Bryson Gutches is a three-time champion transferring from Long Beach Community College, where he will join his brother Brock. And after winning a state title at 165 for Lebanon High, Garrett Urrutia will join brother Dalton on the 2012-13 team.
Central Point's Brandon Montague will remain in the Rogue Valley to join SOU after winning a state title at 165 for Crater, while Jared Miller will make the longest trek of the recruits, coming all the way from Dillingham, Alaska, where he won four state titles at 125.
Eagle Point's Gage Baumer is a two-time placer at the state tournament, and Rhett Breed is a 141-pounder who will transfer from Mesa State. Michael Calderon will transfer from Lassen to compete at 197, and Tanner Cananday will join the Raiders after winning a pair of state championships at 141 for Myrtle Point.
Keith Courtin was a heavyweight state placer and will transfer from Chemeketa, and Crater's Chance Fahndrich was a state finalist at 184. Jonathan Gay will transfer from Questa Junior College to compete at 141, and Colt Glenn comes to SOU after reaching the state finals at 149 for Pendleton.
Trevor Hancock was a four-time state placer at 125, and Harmon Heater also placed at the state tournament at 165 while at Henley. Jacob Humble joins the Raiders from Vacaville, Calif., to compete at 141, and Riddle's Jacob Jeffries was a state finalist in the heavyweight bracket.
San Diego native Wesley Lee comes to SOU after completing his prep career at 157 for Torrey Pines High, while Rogue River's Aaron Longtain was a state finalist at 125. Max Manoukain is a 157-pounder from Healdsburg, Calif., and Ian Rogers finished fourth in state at 125 for Tigard.
Southwestern Oregon C.C. transfer Craig Trask and Clovis, Calif., native Christopher Williams will both compete in the 149. The class also includes Scottie Stockman, a three-time state placer for Sweet Home.
"We are pleased so many student-athletes in all phases of their careers have chosen SOU as the place to continue their education and wrestling careers," Ritchey said. "With 35 returners and 25 newcomers, the SOU wrestling room will be full of guys with iron to test the mettle of the incoming wrestlers. Iron sharpens iron, and this will be a fun group to mentor and work into our current crew."