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Raiders look to extend streak

In each of the past 34 years, the Southern Oregon University wrestling team has had a special day or night when it adds another link to the NAIA record-setting chain of consecutive winning seasons.

The clinching moment in nudging &

The Streak&

to 36 might come tonight at McNeal Pavilion when the seventh-ranked Raiders host No. 8 Menlo College.

Only four schools &

Augsburg, Minn. (41), College of New Jersey (39), Iowa (37) and North Dakota State (37) &

have longer skeins than Southern.

Off to the school&

s best start since the 2000-01 national championship campaign, SOU (9-3) is also shooting for its first 10-win dual output since 1990-91 and seventh straight triumph over the West Region rival Oaks (8-7).

Southern Oregon is coming off a 4-1 performance that earned the consolation championship at last weekend&

s Cliff Keen NAIA National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The Raiders, who lost to the eventual champion (fourth-ranked Dana, Neb.) in the quarterfinals of the 16-team event, defeated King, McKendree, third-ranked Dickinson and fifth-ranked Embry-Riddle en route to a fifth-place finish.

The team&

s 51-3 demolition of King contained seven falls and was the school&

s most lopsided win since a 56-0 blanking of Oregon Tech in 1988-89.

One of the few unfortunates in Iowa was the culmination of All-American David O&

Brien&

s three-year, 28-bout dual-meet win streak. The banged-up Alaskan went 0-2 on the weekend.

Senior All-American Jimmy Grochowsky is a remarkable model of consistency in four seasons as a Raider starter at 157-, 165- or 174-pounds.

The Estacada product, who went 28-8 and placed third in the NAIA at 165 last season, is a team-best 25-5 overall and 10-2 in duals this season.

Having posted an 11-1 record over the past month, Grochowsky enters the week tied for fifth on the school&

s career victory list (93-43), and he will likely become only the third SOU performer ever to win 100 bouts.

The three-time 20-bout season winner is joined in the 20-win column this year by Rick Story (21-5) and Matt Holt (20-7). O&

Brien, Trevor Lofstedt and Barry Johnson are two victories away from joining the group.

Lofstedt leads the team with 12 pins &

three shy of the single-season record established by Wes Balensifer in 2003-04.

O&

Brien has 83 career wins and also has a shot at achieving 100 or more.

The two top NAIA wrestling programs in the West in recent seasons meet for the second time this year tonight.

The then-No. 9 Raiders won seven of 10 bouts and topped the fifth-rated Oaks, 33-11, in Atherton, Calif. on Dec. 16, but the margin of victory was less comfortable than what the final score indicates.

Menlo forfeit the 197-pound fray for six of SOU&

s team points, and Jimmy Ulrey (an 8-7 upset winner over fourth-ranked Kyle Bickford at 157) and Holt (a 2-1 victor over Juan Roman at 141) eked out decision screamers.

Pablo Sanchez (No. 6 at 133), Joe Garcia (No. 4 at 141) and Ben Flores (No. 2 at 285) breezed by Johnson, Joey Jannsen and Taylor Wilkerson, respectively. Southern, however, clinched the win and improved to 8-1 all-time against Menlo with falls from Lofstedt (125), O&

Brien (174) and Story (184).

Fueled by their lighter weights, the Oaks built sizeable team leads four of the past six encounters only to watch the Raider heavies storm back and tip the balance the other way.

Friday's foe, San Francisco State, is 0-5 this season with four of the setbacks coming against NCAA Div. I teams.

The NCAA Div. II Gators are always tough at the lighter weights, and 141-pounder Danny Dahl leads this year's squad with a 13-10 mark.

Southern won the annual dual 37-7 last year in Ashland and has taken four of the past five in the series.