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Pirate wrestler Amuchastegui Stanford-bound

PHOENIX — Southern Oregon has served as something of a feeder region for Stanford's wrestling program.

Now the scope has narrowed to a feeder family.

Luke Amuchastegui, a Phoenix High senior whose older brother, Nick, enjoyed an accomplished season last year as a redshirt freshman at Stanford, has been accepted by the Pac-10 Conference school renowned for academics. He'll sign a letter of intent during the early period next month.

It's a significant reward for lots of hard work with relatively little to show for it.

Last season, Amuchastegui was ranked No. 1 in Class 4A at 152 pounds before a broken ankle prior to the district tournament kept him from challenging for what could have been his first conference and state titles. The two previous seasons, the Skyline Conference was so loaded, the champions at his weight also captured state.

Last year, said Pirate coach John Farmer, "I think he had a pretty clear shot at winning state. He was by far the favorite. Then that (ankle injury) happened."

Now, Amuchastegui, who lives in Talent, is walking just fine. You might say he's walking on air.

"It feels so good to get that out of the way and not have to worry about it anymore," he said of cementing his college plans. "Ever since I got into high school, I was hoping to go to a high-caliber school. As far as Stanford specifically, I initially took an interest in them when they started recruiting my brother."

Nick Amuchastegui followed two other Skyline wrestlers to Stanford — North Valley's Matt Gentry, who in 2004 became the Cardinal's first NCAA champion, and Zack Giesen, a redshirt junior this year.

"We get a lot of kids in the valley who go to pretty good schools for wrestling," said Farmer. "For Stanford, your grades and SAT scores have to be pretty much among the best in the country to get past all the competition, and both those guys (Amuchasetguies) scored high. They're just as powerful in their academics as their wrestling."

Nick Amuchastegui had the highest grade-point average among all NCAA Division I wrestlers last season. He went 29-8 at 165 pounds, finished second in the Pac-10 and earned an at-large berth to the NCAAs.

Luke Amuchastegui is a 4.0 student and valedictorian. He's also the senior class president and is heavily involved in school activities and the community, something Stanford holds in high regard, he said.

He received interest from a number of colleges, but the only other one he strongly considered was Princeton, to which he made an official visit.

Being closer to home and in the same program as his brother appealed to Luke Amuchastegui, who is interested in studying biology or chemistry and working in the outdoors, possibly in the Rogue Valley.

But before that, there's mat work to do.

Amuchastegui was sidelined for nearly fourth months with the broken ankle. He got back into the mat room in late spring and over the summer had a tough training partner in his br other.

Luke Amuchastegui was able to maintain his upper body strength through the injury but his legs weakened.

"Now I'm all healed up and there's nothing to worry about with that anymore," he said.

Farmer would agree.

"He looks better now than he did at the end of last year," said Farmer.

Amuchastegui was injured in a tournament at North Valley in mid-February. While it was difficult to watch the district and state tournaments, he was heartened by the success of his teammates.

Time will tell if this is his year.

As a sophomore 135-pounder, Amuchastegui was runner-up at district and state to Illinois Valley's Sam Winter.

As a freshman, Amuchastegui was fifth at state at 119. The Skyline also featured state champion Jesse Kane of North Valley and teammate Shyne Tourville, who defeated Amuchastegui en route to third place.

Amuchastegui will wrestle at 160 pounds this winter.

Practice begins Nov. 9, and his first competition is expected to be in an open tournament a week later in Roseburg.

"It will be nice to get back out there on the mat and compete again for something that counts," said Amuchastegui.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com