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Gutches' world title proved no easy task

The story that came across The Associated Press wire was only a few paragraphs,but to Les Gutches, winning a world freestyle wrestling championship inRussia earlier this week was nearly as meaningful as winning an Olympicgold medal.

The former South Medford High School and Oregon State University standoutdefeated five opponents in the 187.5-pound weight division to capture thetitle at Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

Gutches battled to a 1-1 overtime draw in the finals against Eldar Asanovof the Ukraine, but was handed a referee's decision.

The world tournament is actually a little tougher to win becauseyou don't have to qualify in order to participate, Gutches said. Youhave to win more matches and there are guys there that you know nothingabout. One of them might have a trick up his sleeve or a different stylethat you've never seen.

So, in that sense it's tougher.

Gutches also had to beat Russian Olympic gold medalist Magomed Magomedovon his home turf and that, too, was no easy task. Gutches squeaked out a3-2 victory over Magomedov in the semifinals. He scored a low single legtakedown in overtime to get the win.

Earlier, Gutches defeated Tatsuo Kawai of Japan 8-0; Ali Reza Heydariof Iran 3-0 in overtime; and Plamen Paskalev of Bulgaria 8-0.

You don't get quite the same calls, Gutches said in referenceto his match against Magomedov. I didn't get cheated, but the scoremight have been different in the U.S. or a neutral country.

Gutches was handed the win in the championship match against Asanov afterthe Ukrainian was called for stalling three times.

Gutches was the lone American to take home a gold medal. Cary Kolat ofRices Landing, Pa., won a silver medal at 138.75 pounds.

The championships were contested in Siberia, an area Gutches describedas interesting and a lot different than anything I'veever seen.

It's not necessarily somewhere I'd want to move, Gutchesadded. It's cold and it would take me a long time to get used to thefood.

Gutches, who has to trim about 14 pounds from his normal weight of 200in order to make weight, took his own stash of grub: rice, noodles, macaroni,stuff you can fix in a hot pot, he said.

The world title culminated 10 months of training for the former two-timeNCAA champion, who will return to the Rogue Valley to visit with his familyfor a month or so before heading to Corvallis, where he is an assistantwrestling coach at OSU.

I'm going to take a little time off, see my brothers and do somefishing, Gutches said. I'm not going to wrestle or even thinkabout it for at least a few weeks.