RAIDER ROUNDUP: SOU’s Gandara, Potter place 6th
WICHITA, Kan. — After securing All-America status Friday, Southern Oregon wrestlers Aaron Gandara and Evan Potter both opened Saturday’s action with wins and went on to take home matching sixth-place finishes from the NAIA Championships at Hartman Arena.
Gandara, a No. 10-seeded sophomore at 157 pounds, and Potter, an unseeded freshman at 133, accounted for 22 1/2 of the unranked Raiders’ 23 1/2 team points, lifting them to 19th place in the final standings. It marked the first time since 2017 that SOU boasted multiple top-six placers.
Grand View (Iowa) won the team title for the 10th time in 11 years with 206 1/2 points, running away from runner-up Life (Ga.)’s 144 by crowning three individual champions.
Gandara started Day 2 by beating the buzzer for his fourth consecutive consolation win against 11th-seeded James Williams of Embry-Riddle (Ariz.), scoring the deciding takedown with two seconds left in the third period. Second-seeded Wilder Wichman of Thomas More (Ky.) stopped his run in the consolation semifinals, 6-4, and Reinhardt (Ga.)’s Trevor Burdick beat him by 13-4 major decision in the 157 fifth-place match
Potter — who wrapped Friday with back-to-back wins over the Nos. 11 and 2 seeds at 133 — executed his third straight upset in Saturday’s opener with a 5-3 decision over No. 8 Keshawn Laws of Cumberland (Ga.). Grand View’s fourth-seeded Carson Taylor, the same wrestler who defeated Potter in the Round of 16, also topped him in the consolation semis, 11-1. Menlo (Calif.)’s No. 7 Jacob Mendoza topped him for fifth place, 5-1.
Potter, a Junction City product, completed the season as SOU’s wins leader at 32-13. Gandara finished with a record of 28-12.
The Raiders’ 19th-place finish was their best since 2018.
SOU SPLITS: At Ashland, Southern Oregon logged another series win at University Field, hanging on for a 9-8 win over Arizona Christian in the finale after dropping Saturday’s opener by the same score in non-conference play.
Junior second baseman Deja Acosta went 6-for-7 on the day with six RBIs, four runs scored and five stolen bases on as many attempts. She and Riley Donovan combined to go 7-for-7 with eight RBIs in Game 2, as Acosta hit a two-run triple and Donovan blasted a two-run home run to lead the fifth-ranked Raiders (15-5 overall) to a 9-0 lead through three innings.
The Firestorm (14-7) battled back with seven runs in the fourth inning, five of which were unearned. They added another run in the fifth, but Katie Machado came through with a two-inning save, stranding the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base in the seventh by retiring the last three batters she faced.
Phelicity Fa’aita earned the decision by going four innings in the circle.
Track & Field
NAIA INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS: At Brookings, S.D., Southern Oregon freshman Abi Stevens doubled up on All-America accolades and junior Adam O’Brien reserved a spot on the podium to wrap up action inside the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex.
Stevens, who placed fourth in Thursday’s pentathlon, added a sixth-place finish in the high jump by clearing 5 feet, 6 1/4 inches. O’Brien cleared 15-5 in the pole vault to take eighth place, adding to the All-America plaque collection he started last spring by placing seventh at the NAIA Outdoor Championships.
Stevens became SOU’s first women’s All-American in the high jump since Melanie Byrne placed sixth at the 1989 NAIA Outdoor Championships. O’Brien became SOU’s fourth men’s two-time All-American in the pole vault.