SOU Wrestling Captures Fourth Straight NAIA West Title

SOU senior Kyle Wirkuty competes in the Qualifying tournament on Saturday. Photo by Troy Goossen/The Siskiyou

Four Raiders claimed individual titles and three more finished as runner-up as No. 3 Southern Oregon claimed its fourth consecutive NAIA West Qualifying Tournament team title Saturday at Bob Riehm Arena.

Top-ranked Mitchell Lofstedt led the way for SOU, pinning all three opponents en route to the 125-pound title. Dalton Urrutia claimed the 157-pound championship, No. 3 Brock Gutches took the 174-pound title and No. 5 Austin Vanderford defeated teammate and seventh-ranked Derek Rottenberg in the 184 final.

Along with Rottenberg in the 184, Miguel Baltazar placed second in the 133 and No. 8 Brian Lemmon finished as the runner-up in the 165. All 12 of the SOU participants finished in the top four of their respective brackets. Third-Ranked Derek Mestrovich placed third in the 165, Bubba Owens took third in the heavyweight bracket and No. 6 Kyle Wirkuty and Tyler Thomas finished fourth in the 141 and 174.

The Raiders finished with 164 total points to claim the team championship, beating out fellow top-10 teams Great Falls and Montana State-Northern in the process. Great Falls, ranked fourth in the NAIA finished with 137.5 points, with No. 8 MSU-Northern tallying 106.5 points to finish third. Menlo placed fourth with 84 points, ahead of Wayland Baptist (66.5) and No. 20 Embry-Riddle (53.5).

Southern Oregon head coach Mike Ritchey was named the NAIA West Coach of the Year and Montana State-Northern’s third-ranked Anthony Weerhiem was named the Top Wrestler of the tournament after earning the championship in the 141-pound bracket.

Next, the Raiders will have a week off before heading to Des Moines, Iowa, for the NAIA National Championships March 1-3.

Menlo’s Angel Garcia, ranked eighth in the NAIA, claimed the title in the 133-pound bracket and Weehiem took the 141 title. Fourth-ranked Mike Vassar of Great Falls won the championship in the 149-pound bracket and UGF’s 12th-ranked Noah Hatton won the 165. Third-ranked Argo Kamron Jackson took the 197 and Menlo’s 10th-ranked Lenny Romero claimed the heavyweight championship.

For more photos please visit: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.326656470718230.90765.136698886380657&type=1 

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