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Raiders raise win streak to 36 seasons

ASHLAND ' Undaunted by an early 12-6 deficit against its NAIA West Region archrival, the Southern Oregon University wrestling team added another link to its lengthy chain of winning seasons by gliding past ninth-ranked Menlo College, 25-12, at McNeal Pavilion Thursday.

The eighth-ranked Raiders extended the school's NAIA-record consecutive winning season streak to 36 by capturing the final five matches and defeating the Oaks (9-10) for the seventh straight encounter since 2002.

In double digits for dual victories for the first time in 15 years, SOU (10-3) secured its second dual-meet triumph of the season over the Atherton, Calif., school when junior Abe Ewing sprang a last-second reversal to win an exciting 197-pound clash against sophomore Eddie Conner.

(The dual) was a tough challenge for us, Raider coach Mike Ritchey said. It's nice to get the streak extended this early in the season. It will allow us to focus on getting ready for the postseason tournaments and groom some younger guys for next year in duals.

The four individually ranked Raiders each emerged victorious and accounted for 16 team points.

Senior All-American Jimmy Grochowsky protected his No. — billing and upped his team-leading record to 26-5 with a workmanlike, 16-7 major decision over Mike Wheeler at 165 pounds.

— Moments later, sixth-ranked senior Rick Story staked SOU to a 19-12 lead by pinning Oak senior Jesse Vasquez in just 51 seconds.

The win set up Ewing's clincher

Story's pin was huge, Ritchey said. He came out with a lot of energy and really set the tone for the upper weights.

Despite impressive decisions from eighth-ranked freshman Trevor Lofstedt (125), fourth-ranked Jimmy Ulrey (149), senior Josh Fitzgerald (174) and sophomore Taylor Wilkerson (285), Ewing and Conner grappled a full seven minutes and scored 10 points without a takedown in what was easily the most entertaining bout of the night.

After a frisky but scoreless first period, the two exchanged two-point reversals in the second stanza, and Conner came 12 seconds away from a 3-2 decision based on a sizable riding-time advantage before Ewing mustered enough leverage to spin out of the hold and earn a three-point near fall as time expired in a 7-3 outcome.

(Late in the third period) I was just thinking I needed to get going, Ewing said. In the last few seconds, I originally hoped to get the escape and go into overtime, but he (Conner) wasn't going to let go of my ankle, so I went for the reversal and the win instead. It wasn't the type of win I was looking for, but it worked out.

Menlo, which dropped a 33-11 outcome to the Raiders on Dec. 16, led 9-3 as a result of a 9-5 win by sixth-ranked Pablo Sanchez over Barry Johnson at 133 followed senior Juan Roman's pin of Nick Ripsom with 11 seconds left in the 141-pound tilt.

Fifth-ranked Kyle Bickford gave the Oaks a 12-6 edge with a 6-0 decision at 157, and he nearly earned bonus points by getting Raider sophomore Jason Appleton in a headlock in the closing seconds of the match.

The teams will meet again at the NAIA regional tournament in Prescott, Ariz. on Feb. 18.

Southern Oregon puts its four-dual win streak on the line at 7 tonight at NCAA Div. II team San Francisco State.

TEAM SCORES ' Southern Oregon 25, Menlo 12.

125 '

Trevor Lofstedt, SOU, dec. Mike Rodriguez, 7-1; 133 '

Pablo Sanchez, MC, dec. Barry Johnson, 9-5; 141 '

Juan Roman, MC, pinned Nick Ripson, 6:49; 149 '

Jimmy Ulrey, SOU, dec. Charles Hinriksson, 8-4; 157 '

Kyle Bickford, MC, dec. Jason Appleton, 6-0.

165 '

Jimmy Grochowsky, SOU, maj. dec. Mike Wheeler, 16-7; 174 '

Josh Fitzgerald, SOU, dec. John Sanchez, 7-1; 184 '

Rick Story, SOU, pinned Jesse Vasquez, 0:51; 197 '

Abe Ewing, SOU, dec. Eddie Conner, 7-3; 285 '

Taylor Wilkerson, SOU, dec. Trevor Blackwelder, 4-1.