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Portland State notches rare win over SOU

The Vikings storm out to a big lead and top the Raiders, 22-17, for their first-ever win in Ashland

ASHLAND ' Having won only two wrestling dual meets in 13 attempts heading into Saturday night's action at McNeal Pavilion, Portland State just needed something to hang its hat on early against Southern Oregon.

The NCAA Division I Vikings got that with a favorable starting weight, then used the momentum of their early wins to edge the Raiders, 22-17.

Saturday's win marked the first for Portland State in six trips to Ashland since 1992. SOU (4-3), ranked third in the NAIA, had won nine of the past 10 meetings between the schools.

They got us on our heels early and kept us on our heels, said eighth-year SOU coach Mike Ritchey. They were hungry for a win.

Portland State freshman Eddie Dahlen got things going at 149 pounds with a 9-5 decision over SOU junior Waylon Alsbury. The Vikings dominated the next three weights, earning a technical fall by Ryan Thomas at 157 and major decisions from Eric Arbogast (165) and Quinn Collett (174) to take a comfortable 16-0 lead.

The weight we drew was a nice one to draw because we didn't lose for a long time, said 19th-year Vikings coach Marlin Grahn. That quiets everybody down. If we would've started at a weight where Southern's winning matches, some of our other guys may not have been as aggressive.

After SOU freshman Abe Ewing received a forfeit at 184, Portland State regained momentum at 197 with senior Randy Davidson's 7-4 decision over SOU freshman Grant Thompson.

With his team trailing 19-6 and only a few matches to go, SOU junior Mike Whitehead pulled a rarity for the Raiders Saturday night: he came out more aggressive than his Viking opponent.

The top-ranked NAIA heavyweight scored a takedown inside the first 15 seconds, was up 4-1 moments later and looking for more when PSU's Antonio Criado went into a defensive shell. Whitehead struggled in vain to find an opening for a pin against the Viking freshman, instead having to settle for a 10-2 major decision.

It's hard to wrestle a guy who won't wrestle you, a clearly disappointed Whitehead said following the match. He was just out there not to get pinned. There's not much you can do with a guy who stalls the whole match.

Portland State, once again, regained momentum when 125-pound junior Casey Kotter managed a 5-0 lead on SOU senior Marc Harris and then held on for an 8-3 decision.

Kotter's win built the Vikings' lead to 22-10, forcing SOU into needing pins in the final two matches just to tie.

Neither pin came as senior Jordan Ottow could only muster an 8-2 decision over Zac Enoch and junior Colin Murphy followed with an 18-5 major decision over Stuart Eggertson to close out the scoring.

Portland State wrestled tough, I've got to give them credit, said Ritchey. They wanted to beat us and needed to beat us. I'm sure this makes their season a lot better.

It's disappointing for us. We were a little bit flat, but we still had our chances to win the thing. We just didn't get it done.

Portland State, on the other hand, came out aggressive and eager to mix it up with the Raiders.

I thought our guys wrestled aggressive tonight, and I was proud of them that way, said Grahn. We've had a really long, hard season. It's just been really tough. The kids have fought hard all the time, but sometimes they've been outmatched.

Tonight, we went out and I think we outmatched Southern a little bit. I think we have a little more mature team and more upperclassmen, and a lot of the time that makes a big difference.

SOU's lineup featured four freshmen, including Eagle Point's James Mannenbach, four juniors and two seniors.

Missing from the Raider lineup were junior Ryan Presta (157), who suffered an injury leading up to Saturday's match, and senior Chris Huntley (165), who had been wrestling up a weight and couldn't be pulled back down in time due to NCAA regulations.

Huntley will be available when the Raiders next take to the mat Friday night at McNeal Pavilion against Pacific. SOU will need to win that dual in order to maintain hope of extending its consecutive winning season streak to 33.

For the rest of the Raiders, however, Whitehead said Saturday night can only be chalked up as a learning experience.

We just need to get back to the drawing board and work harder and come back with a little fire underneath us, said the former Crater High standout. You'll see the real Raiders at nationals (March 7-8 in Great Falls, Mont.)

TEAM SCORE ' Portland State 22, Southern Oregon 17.

125 '

Casey Kotter, PSU, dec. Marc Harris, 8-3; 133 '

Jordan Ottow, SOU, dec. Zac Enoch, 8-2; 141 '

Colin Murphy, SOU, major dec. Stuart Eggertson, 18-5; *149 '

Eddie Dahlen, PSU, dec. Waylon Alsbury, 9-5; 157 '

Ryan Thomas, PSU, tech. fall Jeff Farnes, 15-0.

165 '

Eric Arbogast, PSU, major dec. Brian Wilson, 10-1; 174 '

Quinn Collett, PSU, major dec. James Mannenbach, 16-2; 184 '

Abe Ewing, SOU, won by forfeit; 197 '

Randy Davidson, PSU, dec. Grant Thompson, 7-4; 285 '

Mike Whitehead, SOU, major dec. Antonio Criado, 10-2.

* starting weight

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail