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Raiders' Gutches doubles up on bronze

Southern Oregon University wrestler and former Crater standout Brock Gutches went home with more hardware than anyone after competing last Friday through Sunday at the ASICS University National Wrestling Championships in Akron, Ohio.

The 23-year-old Gutches, wrestling at 176 pounds, won the bronze medal in Greco-Roman and the bronze in Freestyle competition, making him the only individual to medal in both style.

The senior-to-be at SOU combined to win 12 of 14 matches at the event, which was put on by USA Wrestling and acted as a qualifier for the USA World Team Trials. Eligible wrestlers needed to be between the ages of 18-28 and in pursuit of a degree.

Gutches went 7-1 in the Freestyle with a handful of victories over NCAA Division I wrestlers. He won a 17-11 decision over University of Tennessee-Chattanooga's Levi Clemons, a Southeastern Conference champion and NCAA tournament qualifier, to reach the quarterfinals. After a 13-8 loss to University of Iowa starter Alex Meyer, Gutches needed and got three straight wins — including one over Iowa State starter Michael England, 7-6 — to get to the third-place match, which he won 13-11 in a rematch with Meyer.

In Greco-Roman, Gutches won by fall three times and by technical fall once. He pinned Patrick Martinez, Wyoming's former top wrestler, in 1:31 for third place.

Gutches said he hadn't competed in Greco-Roman since his senior year of high school.

"It's been a long time," he said. "I'm getting back into it, re-learning everything. I am never satisfied with anything other than a first place, but it is a little give-and-take."

The 2014-15 season will be the last at Southern Oregon for Gutches. He'll be attempting to become the first four-time NAIA champion in school history, and is already the only individual in NAIA history to win three titles at 174 pounds.

Gutches has been training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., the past month. Olympic gold medalist and former USA Wrestling Greco-Roman coach Steve Fraser emailed him asking if he'd like to come.

Gutches said he may stay in Colorado for another month or two, but has yet to solidify summer plans. At the very least, he said, he'll be preparing for the college season and 2015 Team Trials.

"There are a lot of great coaches here and a lot of guys I can take a lot from," Gutches said. "It's definitely a great opportunity. All these guys who are here, their goals and aspirations are contagious."