EVANSTON, Ill. — Brock Gutches and Taylor Johnson made Southern Oregon's first trip since 1986 to the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships well worth it Sunday at the 51st edition inside Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Gutches, the Raider wrestling team's top-ranked 174-pounder, has a chance to do a lot more than that today, too, after rolling into the semifinal round with three first-round pins against NCAA Division I competition. Johnson came through with two wins in the 197-pound wrestleback bracket, and Jacob Abrams (184 pounds) went down twice.
Wrestling will begin today at 10 a.m. The championship rounds, airing live on the Big Ten Network, will get going at 6 p.m.
Guthes' semifinal opponent is unseeded Shane Hughes of Columbia, who upset third-seeded Elliot Riddick of Lehigh in the quarterfinals. The winner will go against top-seeded Mike Evans of Iowa or 12th-seeded Zach Epperly of Virginia Tech.
Gutches, the No. 7 seed, will already be just the second Raider to ever place at the big-time event after Steve Tekander claimed sixth in 1986. Following a first-round bye, Gutches pinned Brown's Ricky McDonald in 1:40; took care of Michigan's Collin Zeerip in 2:38; and finished his run by upsetting second-seeded Hayden Zillmer of North Dakota State in 1:22. He was the only wrestler in the bracket with three wins by fall.
Johnson was directed out of the championship bracket by third-seeded Nathan Burak of Iowa in a 13-3 major decision. But he bounced back with a win by fall in 4:07 against Iowa's Jared Bartel and a 9-3 decision over Michigan's Chris Heald. He eventually bowed out against No. 12 Basil Minto of Northern Iowa.
Abrams lost by decision against the No. 9 seed, Illinois' Niko Reyes (6-1), and by fall against Luther's Jayden DeVilbiss (0:57).
With 19 team points, Southern Oregon took over 16th place of 47 schools represented. Iowa leads with 112 points, while Illinois is second (57), Edinboro third (52) and Maryland fourth (46.5).