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Beaver Wrestlers Given Top-10 Ranking in Pre-Season Poll

October 12th, 2012 by Tom

 OSU in at No. 9 in D1 College Wrestling's 2012 pre-season poll

CORVALLIS, Ore. "“, When the Oregon State wrestling team takes to the mats to begin the 2012-13 campaign, it will do so with a number in front of its name. That's because D1 College Wrestling has tabbed the Beavers as the ninth best team in the nation in their pre-season poll, released Monday.

Last season, OSU garnered pre-season rankings of No.'s 18 and 22 to begin the season, but the top-10 slot it was awarded heading into this year is the highest pre-season accolade the team has received in the, Jim Zalesky, era.

Just ahead of the 'Beavs in D1's pre-season poll is Ohio State at No. 5, Illinois at No. 6, Missouri who is No. 7 and Cornell at No. 8. Rounding out the Top-10 is Virginia Tech as Penn State grabs the top spot, followed by Minnesota (No. 2), Iowa (No. 3) and Oklahoma State at No. 4.

Oregon State enters the 2012 season with a total of seven wrestlers also ranked in D1's individual season poll. Those student-athletes are as follows:, Pat Rollins, (No. 17/125 lbs), Mike Mangrum, (No. 3/141 lbs.), Scott Sakaguchi, (No. 7/149 lbs.), RJ Pena, (No. 11/157 lbs.), Ty Vinson, (No. 18/164 lbs.), Taylor Meeks, (No. 12/197 lbs.) and, Chad Hanke, (No. 8/285 lbs.).

Couple D1's pre-season poll with Amateur Wrestling News' that came out last week and now a total of seven OSU wrestlers have been awarded pre-season individual rankings heading into the 2012-13 season.

Zalesky's squad started participating in open practices last week and will have their first official practice of the season starting, Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Half-Dozen OSU Wrestlers Honored in National Pre-Season Poll

September 24th, 2012 by Tom

 CORVALLIS, Ore. "Amateur Wrestling News has released its preseason Division I rankings for the 2012-13 season and a total of six Oregon State wrestlers can be found on the list. The half-dozen Beaver student-athletes are broken up among the top-20 within their individual weight class, with reigning All-American Mike Mangrum the highest rated OSU wrestler at No. 2 in the 141-pound group.

The second-highest on the list comes in the 149 weight class, as fellow 2012 All-American Scott Sakaguchi is listed at No. 7. Next up is senior Chad Hanke, who is ranked 10th in the nation at 285 pounds. Following Hanke is a pair of Beavers at No. 12, with junior RJ Pena in the 157-pound weight class and sophomore Taylor Meeks in the same slot but at 197 lbs.

Sophomore Pat Rollins is the sixth and final Oregon State wrestler on the list as the sophomore comes in at No. 14 on the 125 pound list.

With the graduation of Clayton Jack, OSU returns two of their three All-Americans from a season ago. Jim Zalesky's crew officially begins practice for the 2012-13 season, Thursday in Corvallis.

U of Oregon supporters continue fight to reinstate wrestling

November 29th, 2009 by Tom

Matthew Blumberg USA Wrestling

What was the next step after the University of Oregon announced its plans to drop its Div. I wrestling team in July 2007?

There was no debate for retired University of Oregon head wrestling coach Ron Finley. Something needed to be done, and quick.

"Within four days (of being informed of the decision to end the wrestling program), we had the site, SaveOregonWrestling.org, up and running," said Finley, who continues to serve as the director of Save Oregon Wrestling.

After all, without a website or some other way to inform the wrestling community, how were they going to get their message out?

"From the very start we knew we needed to do something, we needed a way to easily communicate throughout the entire country," said Finley, adding, "We needed to get our message out."

Oregon competed one final wrestling season, running out the string during the 2007-08 year. In spite of strong public support for retaining the program, the university and its athletic director at the time, Pat Kilkenny, allowed the Duck wrestling program to join the list of programs which have been dropped.

The battle to reinstate the Oregon program has continued, and with it, the efficient use of the Save Oregon Wrestling website.

Since the start of the site, there has been constant traffic and massive amounts of support across the nation. The response was more than Finley and the Oregon supporters could have hoped for.

The website offers a chance for wrestling fans from Oregon and across the nation to show their support of wrestling at the University of Oregon by signing an on-line petition. The petition states one goal, the reinstatement of varsity wrestling at Oregon.

As of November 10, the petition had over 7,000 signatures. 7,451 signatures, to be exact.

"The site has kept the country informed of what is going on. Takedown Radio has helped, along with other media outlets. People we don't even know have either donated or signed the on-line petition," said Finley. "It really shows people care about wrestling."

Finley said that hopes remain high since the University has hired a new Athletic Director, Mike Belotti.

The website continues to encourage people to contact Belotti, Univ. of Oregon President Richard Lariviere and Senior Associate Women's Athletic Director Rene Baumgartner to encourage them to bring back wrestling.

The Save Oregon Wrestling website says: "Make the decision makers devote time to the problem that they have created each and every day. This cannot be a two-day or week deal. We need to stay on them until they reverse their decision! Wrestling is that important to all of us and America."

With the funds currently pledged and a solid plan to address the team's budget issues, Finley cannot help but have faith that the dedicated efforts of the wrestling community over the last few years could lead to a reinstatement.

"We will just have to wait and see how the new AD, Mike Belotti, feels about our efforts and proposed budget," said Finley.

Finley is quick to praise the efforts of cross-state rival Oregon State, which held an endowment dual meet this past weekend, when they faced nationally ranked Boise State and Wisconsin. A crowd of 3,018 attended the competition, and the meet raised $30,000 which went into the Oregon State wrestling endowment fund.

"Every penny spent on admission to the Oregon State dual meet went to a wrestling endowment fund," said Finley. "If every program could do that, it would be a step in the right direction."

While reinstating dropped programs has been a challenge on the Div. I level in the past, Finley and all those involved with the effort believe that there might be light at the end of the tunnel at Oregon.

When asked how long he thought it would take to get Oregon wrestling back on the mat, Finley showed no hesitation.

"A couple of years is all it could take, but we are going to have to keep fund raising and fund raising and fund raising," said Finley.

Oh, and just in case anyone was curious, the petition just received one additional signature. With support from this writer, the total is now up to 7,452.

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Gutches inducted into Hall of Fame

December 14th, 2008 by Tom

Oregon State University Sports Information

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Former Oregon State wrestler Les Gutches will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame during honors weekend in Stillwater, June 5-6, announced Thursday.

Gutches will be inducted as a Distinguished Member. He joins seven others in the 33rd class since the Hall of Fame began operations in 1976. He becomes the second Oregon State wrestler to be inducted since Robin Reed in 1978 with former head coach Dale Thomas also being inducted in 1980.

"It's a huge honor, "Gutches said. "When you win a tournament, it's kind of what you've done then and there. But being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a great honor because it encompasses your body of work and what you've done overall as an athlete. Growing up you see all of the people being inducted and have great respect for them. So for the Hall of Fame to look at your work and deem it to be honored like this, it's huge."

Gutches was the first athlete to win USA Wrestling national titles in all five age group levels "Cadet, Junior, Espoir, University and Senior.

At South Medford High School in Oregon, Gutches won three state titles. He was also a district champion in the 400 meters for the track team.

He was a two-time NCAA champion while at Oregon State, wrestling from 1993-96 and compiling a 134-10 career record. He earned the Outstanding Wrestler award at the 1996 NCAA Championships and the Dan Hodge Trophy that same season. Over his final two collegiate seasons he allowed opponents just one takedown.

Gutches quickly made his mark in freestyle, winning the first of his five U.S. Nationals titles in 1996 and also the Olympic Trials title at 180.5 pounds.

In Atlanta, he would finish seventh. However, a year later at the 1997 World Championships in Russia, Gutches would earn a gold medal at 187.25 pounds. He would also earn a bronze medal at the 1999 World Championships.

Gutches currently is a commercial lender for a bank in Corvallis. He spends his free time helping with local high school wrestling programs and is actively involved with the Oregon State wrestling Orange Crush Club. He was inducted into the Oregon State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.