Three Raiders Win Championships as Team Takes Second

The Southern Oregon wrestling team concluded the 2011-12 season Saturday as the Raiders clinched second place at the NAIA National Championships, with three individual champions and six total All-Americans.

The third-ranked Raiders earned their third NAIA runner-up finish in the past four years, as top-ranked tournament host Grand View pulled away for the team title. Grand View finished with 172 total points and nine All-Americans, while SOU tallied 141 and a tournament-best three individual champions. Second-ranked Campbellsville finished third (121.5) followed by No. 9 Lindsey Wilson (96.5) and No. 5 Oklahoma City (94).

“I’m proud of this team,” SOU head coach Mike Ritchey said. “They came here and competed in a very hostile environment and we walk out of here with our heads held high. Grand View wrestled a heck of a tournament.”

Top-ranked Mitchell Lofstedt won his second national championship in the 125-pound bracket, pinning Morningside’s fourth-ranked Kory Kistner in 1:07 to clinch the title. The pin was Lofstedt’s fourth in five matches at the 2012 NAIA National Championships, and he ends the season with a 39-2 record and a new program-record 26 total pins (surpassing his own record of 24 set in 2009-10).

Lofstedt was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the National Tournament and earned the Gorrian Award, given to the wrestler with the most pins in the least amount of time. Lofstedt finished the tournament with a total time of 7:37 for his four pins. In his three years at SOU, Lofstedt has claimed two national titles with one runner-up finish.

Third-ranked Brock Gutches claimed the individual championship in the 174-pound bracket. Gutches defeated Lindsey Wilson’s second-ranked Joseph Stephens in a 6-4 decision in the championship bout to conclude a 5-0 run through the NAIA Tournament field.

Third-ranked Austin Vanderford gave the Raiders their third individual champion, claiming the 184 title. Vanderford posted an 8-0 major decision victory over Campbellsville’s fifth-ranked Allen Scruggs to earn the title.

“To watch Mitch and Austin dominate in the finals, that was pretty exciting,” Ritchey said. “One’s a real emotional explosion and the other two are just really fun to watch. Mitch obviously took care of business quick and set the tone for the night. Austin just wanted it and had to overcome a hyperextended knee early in the match.”

Jimmy Eggemeyer‘s quest for a national championship fell short in the final round, as the fourth-ranked Eggemeyer dropped a 5-3 decision to William Penn’s eighth-ranked Eric Burgey. Eggemeyer finishes second with the loss in the championship bout.

Eighth-ranked Brian Lemmon finished fourth in the 165 and eighth-ranked Derek Rottenberg placed sixth in the 184, earning All-American honors for both wrestlers.

“We came to get some national titles, and the guys stepped up,” Ritchey said. “It’s a tough match to wrestle in the finals, and they all competed well. It was a lot of fun.”

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