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Southern Oregon gets a shot at Beavers

ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon University wrestling team will take a step up in competition Saturday when they host NCAA Division I Oregon State at McNeal Pavilion.

The dual starts at 1 p.m. and SOU head coach Mike Ritchey says his team is ready for the opportunity to wrestle the Beavers.

"If our lineup holds together I feel like we match up pretty well against them," Ritchey said. "This is a pretty good measuring stick for us. We are hoping that McNeal will provide some magic for us."

The Raiders come into the dual with a 2-0 record and moved up to fourth in this week's NAIA Top 20 Poll.

Oregon State is 2-2 on the season, with victories over NAIA Simon Fraser and NCAA Division II Augustana. The two losses have come to NCAA Division I foes Nebraska (34-8) and Wisconsin (24-13). The Beavers are receiving votes in this week's NCAA Division I poll.

The two teams saw each other at SOU's Best of the West Open on Nov. 22 in Central Point where the Beavers took home five individual titles.

"They are a solid team," Ritchey said of the Beavers. "They are young and talented."

Oregon State is led by 184 pounder Kyle Bressler and Heinrich Barnes (149).

Bressler won the Pac-10 title last year at 197 and Barnes qualified for the NCAA's and also wrestled in the Summer Olympics for South Africa.

SOU moved up in this week's poll from No. 5 to No. 4 after knocking off then third-ranked Menlo on Nov. 21. The lofty ranking is the highest since the 2005-06 season.

Individually the Raiders have six ranked wrestlers, including top-ranked heavyweight John Bates.

"So far John has proven himself against some of the top wrestlers at his weight class," Ritchey said. "He's hard to wrestle for most heavyweights. He kind of wrestles like he's 157 pounds."

Other ranked wrestlers include Barry Johnson (second, 141), Trevor Lofstedt (fourth, 133), Chris Platt (seventh, 184), Ricky Farrell (eighth, 184) and Seth Roy (eighth, 149).

"We are where we need to be at this point in the season," Ritchey said. "I've pushed this group as hard as any other group to be ready at this point."