fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Calm before the storm

CENTRAL POINT — As he jokes around with teammates before wrestling matches or moves on afterward without much fanfare, you get the feeling nothing really bothers Brock Gutches.

His laid-back style could be misconstrued by outsiders as meaning the Crater High junior doesn't really care, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Gutches cares about his performance on the mat as much as anyone.

He most likely couldn't tell you who he's beaten this season or in year's past, mind you, but when pressed, he could tell you who has defeated him, spell their names and give you the score.

It's that latter list that truly lights the fire for Gutches.

"It gets me sometimes, but not too often," he says of recalling past defeats.

His 39-3 record heading into the Class 5A state tournament, set for today through Saturday in Portland, is evidence that Gutches doesn't have to worry too much about such defeats. All three losses have come against quality opponents — and none against his 5A peers in the 145-pound weight class.

Only Corvallis' Bo Christianson (ranked No. 1 at 152) and Travis Newton of Canby (No. 2 in the 6A 145-pound ranks) know what it's like to earn an in-state decision over Gutches this season. Christianson won 10-5 at the Oregon Classic, and Newton rallied from a 3-1 deficit with 31 seconds to go and claimed a 5-3 win at the Reser's Tournament of Champions.

Gutches' only other defeat came at the hands of Los Gatos (Calif.) High standout Geoff Doss in a 3-2 matchup at 152 pounds in the Coast Classic.

"I don't think what really shows in that (39-3 record) was just about everywhere we went, we put him at a weight that had the toughest guys," says Crater coach Greg Haga. "I just challenge anybody to wrestle the schedule he has and see where they ended up."

The move by Haga was purposeful in order to give his team the best chance at victory, while also giving into Gutches' desire to compete against the best at all times.

"I don't think he ever looks at wanting to walk through easier weight brackets," says the 20th-year coach. "I think he wants to wrestle tough kids and be challenged."

Gutches wouldn't disagree, although he hints that some of that may be a little overstated. In truth, the 16-year-old standout says he doesn't pay much attention to his opponent.

"I don't usually look at the brackets too much," says Gutches. "My dad (Kent) does and he tells me about it, but that's about it."

That conversation went in one ear and out the other in the hours before Crater headed north on Wednesday. For Gutches, this year's state tournament isn't about who he potentially will face, but how he's focused on taking care of his own business.

In two previous state tourneys, Gutches has finished as runner-up each time. He lost 4-2 to Mitchell Lofstedt in the 103-pound state title match in 2006 — only two weeks after beating Lofstedt 7-3 for the district crown — and dropped a 10-2 decision at 130 last year to Jefferson's Norman Richmond.

Gutches isn't interested in becoming a three-time runner-up this weekend.

"I'm definitely sick of losing, so I'm hoping I win it this time," he says.

From Haga's standpoint, Gutches has nothing to feel bad about since both title losses came to quality opponents. Lofstedt will by vying for his third title at the 6A meet this week, and Richmond is now a champion at Sierra College for former SOU standout Ken Wharry.

Gutches is more than capable of winning it all, says Haga, if he wrestles to his considerable capabilities.

"He's got great, great mat awareness and is a strong competitor," says Haga. "And he's probably one of the most balanced wrestlers that we've had."

That last comment says a lot considering the Comets have established a standard of excellence in their program, winning seven state titles with one runner-up finish in the past 10 years.

Gutches has deceivingly strong hips to help him remain in control on the mat, says the coach, but it's his all-around prowess that separates Gutches from the pack.

"The one thing he does as well or better than anyone we've had is, just about any position you put him in, he's comfortable," says Haga. "He's good at leg attacks and being able to counter, good at getting off the bottom and pretty tough up top, too."

Gutches credits the help he's received from family and friends for allowing him to be so comfortable on the mat. With a wrestling room at his home and a rich family history that includes state champions up and down the family tree, he's been provided a little more insight than your average wrestler.

"I'd say that's made everything a little easier," says Gutches. "I've had a lot of coaches around helping me."

And not a one who has ever questioned his desire, laid-back attitude and all.

"I think a lot of guys get nervous out there and I don't think that helps," he says. "You do better when you're relaxed."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com

Crater’s Brock Gutches, left, wrestles Crater’s Zack Bladridge during Districts at Eagle Point last Saturday.