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Raiders starting to gel

BURNABY, British Columbia -- The Southern Oregon University wrestling team is finally starting to click.

Monday night, the top-ranked Raiders won their second straight lopsided dual meet by beating fifth-ranked Simon Fraser 31-9.

Southern Oregon claimed six of the 10 matches on the night to run its dual match record to 2-1 on the season.

We're starting to do a lot of things right, said Raider coach Mike Ritchey. We're winning the close matches and wrestling with a lot of pride.

Ryan Escobar got things started for Southern Oregon with a pin in — minute, 10 seconds at 118 pounds. His brother Tyson followed at 126 pounds with a win by major decision.

In the feature match of the night, Southern Oregon's Matt Paulson, the defending NAIA national champion at 134 pounds, defeated Simon Fraser's Jesse McKay, 3-2. McKay is the NAIA's defending national champion at 126 pounds.

The team is starting to come together, said Ritchey. A seven day road trip tends to do that for a team some times. You'll either come together or end up killing yourselves.

The Raiders' Vic Perry won a 13-11 overtime decision over Dennis Herrin at 167 pounds and Jamie Dixon won a tight, 1-0, decision over Simon Fraser's Luigi Blanco at 190 pounds. Southern Oregon's Nick Hurliman (142) and Chris Moore (heavyweight) won by forfeit.

Early in the season the Raiders were beset by injuries and other outside distractions and consequently took their lumps with a brutal schedule. But now almost 100 percent healthy, SOU appears ready to make a run at the NAIA title.

We had to wait to get the right lineup, said Ritchey. Now we've got a solid lineup and I feel really confident about this team.