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Busy week pits SOU against pair of D-I schools

No collegiate wrestling championships are won during the month of January, but the Southern Oregon University wrestling team has nearly one-third of its entire 2003-04 dual-meet schedule packed into a 31-hour span this weekend.

Sporting a 1-1 dual record, the sixth-ranked Raiders head to the annual Oregon Classic needing five wins in the remaining eight head-to-head events in order to extend the school's NAIA-record consecutive winning season streak to 34 straight.

SOU tangles with Pac-10 luminaries Cal State-Bakersfield and Oregon State at Friday's 11-team event that will be held at the Redmond Fairgrounds Arena starting at 10 a.m. The other teams competing at the longtime Oregon wrestling extravaganza are Air Force, Oregon, Army, Portland State, Pacific, North Carolina State and San Francisco State.

Southern caps the busy two-day run by hosting SFSU Saturday night at Ashland High School - a rematch of a 21-18 thriller won by the NCAA Division II Gators in San Francisco on Dec. 13. (The event takes place at the AHS Mountain Avenue gymnasium due to a conflict with the SOU basketball conference doubleheader at McNeal Pavilion.)

The home dual is the third of six "home" events with a dual against Pacific (Jan. 24) and the NAIA Western Regionals (Feb. 14) remaining.

Last Weekend

Final results from last weekend's Portland State Open are not yet available as of press time. What is known, however, is Southern Oregon won three of the 10 weight class titles.

Sophomore 174-pounder Rick Story won his first tournament as a Raider since transferring from Pacific Lutheran last spring by going 3-0 and topping Oregon State's Steve Grayson by injury default in the finals.

Sophomore David O'Brien won 184-pound gold with a 5-3 decision over a wrestler by the last name of Kidby, and senior heavyweight Wes Balensifer improved to 20-1 overall won the 285 group with a 3-0 mark.

This Weekend

Oregon State starts the week with a 1-3 dual mark, but the Beaver losses were to Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Lehigh.

Although 11 of ninth-year head coach Mike Ritchey's 62 career wins are against NCAA Division I teams, wins over OSU, a longtime national wrestling power, are almost as rare and nearly as cherished as SOU's four NAIA team titles. In fact, Southern is just 2-30-1 against the Beavers dating back to 1957-58 with the victories coming in 1982-83 and 1987-88.

This year's top Beaver mat men are top-rated Pac-10 competitors Matt Ellis (12-6 at 165) and Jed Pennell (9-6 at 174).

Friday's dual against 20th-ranked Cal State-Bakersfield is Southern's first ever meeting against the Roadrunners, who are 2-0 on the season following a 23-14 victory at Boise State on Jan. 6.

CSUB's hottest performer is ninth-ranked sophomore 197-pounder Matt Monteiro, a 2003 Midlands finalist who has beaten the No. 1, 2 and 7 wrestlers at his weight this season.

Since sweeping the lower weights and hanging on for the 21-18 win over SOU, San Francisco State (1-4) has lost to second-ranked Iowa State (34-12) and 25th-ranked Fresno State (34-9).

The Gator Big Four - 125-pound defending West Region champion Joey Bareng, junior Academic All-American Donald Lockett (133), sophomore All-American Pacifico Garcia (141) and junior All-American Luke Santos (149) - accounted for 15 of the 21 Gator team points against SOU last month.

Southern Oregon Probable Lineup

125-Junior Valladolid (9-6)

133-Lee Ottow (3-6)

141-Dan Herb (2-6)

149-Colin Murphy (8-4)

157-Jimmy Grochowsky (7-4)

165-Brian Wilson (14-5)

174-Rick Story (11-8)

184-David O'Brien (12-4)

197-Kyle Simmons (7-7)

285-Wes Balensifer (20-1)

NAIA Individual Rankings:

o Brian Wilson (2nd at 165)

o Wes Balensifer (2nd at 285)

o Colin Murphy (4th at 149)

o David O'Brien (5th at 184)

o Grant Thompson (8th at 197)

o Rick Story (8th at 174)

NAIA Team Rankings:

1. Montana State-Northern

2. Missouri Valley

3. Lindenwood, Mo.

4. Menlo, Calif.

5. William Penn, Iowa

6. Southern Oregon

- For more information on the Southern Oregon University wrestling, visit the Raiders online at sou.edu/athletics or go to www.naia.org.