It's not in Brock Gutches to accept anything less than first place, but his showing Tuesday at the Junior National Greco-Roman Championships in Fargo, N.D., was still quite a feat for the Crater High senior-to-be.

It's not in Brock Gutches to accept anything less than first place, but his showing Tuesday at the Junior National Greco-Roman Championships in Fargo, N.D., was still quite a feat for the Crater High senior-to-be.

Gutches, 17, recorded a 7-1 record en route to placing third overall in the talent-heavy 152-pound division.

He placed fourth last year in the Cadet class at 135. The Cadet class is for wrestlers 16 and under, while the Junior class consists entirely of high-school level competitors.

"The class that I'm in right now is a lot tougher class than the one I was in last year," said Gutches during a break in action Wednesday at the week-long wrestling event. "Third's not bad for Greco, but I'd rather finish higher."

Gutches' lone loss came in controversial fashion to eventual champion Kalvin York of Wisconsin. He rebounded to score a technical fall victory over Andrew Gasber of Ohio in the third-place final.

"We had three champions on our side of the bracket, so we definitely had the tougher bracket," Gutches said of a run that began Sunday.

Of his dominant win to secure third, Gutches said, "I just went out and was bullying him around out there."

Gutches' quest in North Dakota continues today when the Junior National Freestyle Championships get under way. He finished as runner-up last year in the Cadet 135-pound class.

"There are a lot of new guys (who will compete in freestyle) and more of the same guys (from the Greco competition), but I still plan on winning it," said Gutches.

Of the two specialities, Gutches said he prefers the Greco-Roman style much more than Freestyle, which is the form practiced at the scholastic and collegiate levels. In Greco, attacks below the waist are forbidden and a wrestler cannot avoid being thrown by simply hooking or grabbing his opponent's leg. Even on the mat, a Greco wrestler must still find a way to turn his opponent's shoulders to the mat for a fall without using his legs.

The emphasis on throws also brings a natural excitement to the Greco style of wrestling.

"I've always felt the most comfortable wrestling Greco," added Gutches. "I just think it's the funnest. I don't think there's any particular thing that's made me like Greco more, but not having to get into a stance is probably the best part of Greco."

This past spring, Gutches garnered his first state championship in three tries when he scored a technical fall over West Albany's Jacob Richard, 19-4, in the Class 5A state championships. As a freshman and sophomore, the Central Point standout finished as runner-up at the state tournament.

Buoyed by Gutches' efforts, as well as a first-place finish by Lake Oswego's Tyrell Fortune at 215 and a runner-up showing by Newberg's Alec Ortiz at 160, the Oregon contingent placed fifth overall in the Greco team standings.

Other Oregon placers included Tillamook's Bubba Owens (third at 285), Newberg's Jacob Kaufman (fourth at 125), Salem's Alex Kostenborder (eighth at 112) and Portland's Jacob Mitchell (eighth at 285), Tyler Thomas (seventh at 171) and Jacob Handbury (seventh at 98).

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com