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Gutches wins fourth title, leads SOU to second

TOPEKA, Kan. — Southern Oregon senior 174-pounder Brock Gutches left the NAIA the same way he came in — unrivaled — and 197-pound senior Taylor Johnson carved out a space in Raider history and atop the podium for himself, too.

Their individual championships brought the fourth-ranked Raiders a fifth second-place finish in seven years Saturday night at the NAIA Wrestling Championships inside the Kansas Expocentre. SOU, which also had 157-pound senior Dalton Urrutia in the finals, accumulated 109 team points to beat out the 104.5 of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.).

Gutches became the seventh wrestler in NAIA history and the first since 2001 to win four straight championships, and Johnson's win gave the Raiders 36 all-time individual titles, more than any other program currently in the NAIA.

Urrutia landed in second place and SOU was represented by three more All-Americans: third-place Jacob Abrams at 184, fifth-place Tyler Cowger at 149 and seventh-place Garrett Urrutia at 165.

Grand View (Iowa) won its fourth consecutive title with 147.5 points, two champions and nine total All-Americans.

Gutches, the former Crater High standout who last season became the first three-time champ the NAIA has seen in the 174-pound calss, nailed down a 67-second semifinal pin of Grand View's second-ranked Thomas Moman — his third straight pin to start the tournament.

In the final, Gutches threw around Campbellsville's Travis McIntosh, ranked No. 4, whom he had already pinned earlier this season. McIntosh's attempt to avoid that outcome again resulted in an 8-0 Gutches major decision that was never close; Gutches led 4-0 after the first round and controlled the entire bout.

He finished the season with a record of 31-2, and 22 of those wins were by fall. Over four years he went 17-0 at the national tournament with 10 pins.

Johnson, who along with Abrams became the 26th and 27th three-time All-Americans in SOU history, is the 27th Raider to ever win an individual title. He'd finished fifth as a sophomore and third as a junior and defeated rival Garrett DeMers of Montana State-Northern 11-7 to reach the top. He also started the day with a dominant 9-1 major decision over top-ranked Hudson Buck from Dickinson State.

In the final, Johnson's reversal with 11 seconds left in the second period swung the lead in his favor, 6-5. His takedown with 16 seconds to go clinched the victory and avenged a 9-6 loss to DeMers in the Western Region Qualifying Tournament, bringing his final record to 26-5.

Dalton Urrutia ran into defending 157-pound champ Joe Cozart of Lindsey Wilson in his final, dropping an 8-2 decision. An escape gave Urrutia a 1-0 edge with 35 seconds left in the second period, but Cozart almost immediately turned that around with a near-fall. Urrutia pinned seventh-ranked Sean Elkins of Dickinson State in the semifinals in 3:39 for his team-best 32nd win. His was the 33rd runner-up finish in SOU history and improved on an eighth-place showing two seasons ago.

Abrams punctuated his impressive tournament run with three straight wins Saturday, making his tournament record 5-1. A convincing 7-2 win over Cumberland's Kyle Delaune in the third-place match came after a 10-4 win over Morningside's Rulin Pederson and a 3-1 win over Grand View's Christian Mays. He'll bring home the 25th third-place finish ever by a Raider wrestler.

Cowger battled top-ranked Jake Ester of Missouri Valley to a 1-0 loss in the semifinals, and third-ranked Gustavo Martinez defeated him 6-2 in the consolation semis. He returned to form with a bang in the fifth-place match, winning by fall in the first round (2:16) against Life's Dallas Brown, whom he had also defeated in the quarterfinals with a tiebreaker. It was Cowger's second consecutive fifth-place finish.

Garrett Urrutia dropped a 10-4 decision to second-ranked Jimmie Schuessler of Grand View in his first consolation, and then won 3-1 for his second upset in as many days of Life's sixth-ranked Oliver Burkardt. Urrutia is an All-American for the first time.