ASHLAND — Southern Oregon University will send its three most decorated wrestlers to one of the most decorated tournaments in the country — the 51st annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships, which will take place today and Monday in Evanston, Ill.
Two-time national champion Brock Gutches will be joined by Raider teammates Jacob Abrams and Taylor Johnson. Gutches, coming off a second-place showing at the Reno Tournament of Champions, is the top-ranked NAIA wrestler at 174 pounds, while Abrams is No. 5 at 184 and Johnson is No. 1 at 197.
Wrestling begins at 7:30 this morning at Northwest University's Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Big Ten Network will air the championship rounds live on Monday at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.
Considered a midseason preview of the NCAA and Big Ten championships, over 60 schools will be in attendance vowing for a title.
SOU last sent representatives to the tournament in 1986. Jacobs' father, Barry, was one of them.
"It will be great to rub shoulders with the current big names in wrestling," SOU coach Mike Ritchey said, "and we're here to wrestle the best in the NCAA Division I to see where our top returners are at this point in the season."
Gutches was the one Raider to be pre-seeded, taking the No. 7 slot in the 165-pound bracket.
Grandview (Iowa), the defending NAIA national team champion, will also have wrestlers at the tournament.