Big weekend ahead for SOU wrestlers

The Southern Oregon wrestling team begins its hunt for consecutive winning season No. 39 on Friday with a pair of duals.

The Raiders host Simon Fraser at 12:30 p.m. and Menlo at 2 p.m. on Friday at McNeal Pavilion. The Raiders will then host the fifth annual Best of the West Tournament at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point.

SOU moved up from ninth in the NAIA Preseason poll to fifth in this week's poll. Menlo dropped from second to third.

The SOU-Menlo dual will be the highlight of the weekend.

"It's a very good regional rivalry," SOU head coach Mike Ritchey said. "They have two returning national champions and deserve their high ranking. They always come ready to wrestle."

The biggest match of the dual will be at heavyweight. Menlo's Jesse Ruiz enters the dual ranked No. 1 in the Nation and SOU's John Bates ranks third.

"This is going to be a great test for John," Ritchey said. "We will be able to find out where he's at for this early in the season. It's a win-win for us. He has a chance to knock off a top-ranked wrestler and also a chance to learn and improve."

SOU also has five other ranked wrestlers in this week's rankings. Barry Johnson is ranked second at 141 pounds, Trevor Lofstedt is fourth at 133, Chase Locke is fifth at 197, Ricky Farrell is seventh at 184 and Seth Roy is eighth at 149.

Saturday's tournament will feature teams from SOU, San Francisco State, Menlo, Simon Fraser, Oregon State, Portland State, Lassen Junior College, Sierra Junior College, Sacramento City College, Shasta Junior College, North Idaho Junior College, Clackamas Community College, Southwestern Oregon and Highline Community College. It will also feature a youth tournament and a junior tournament.

Finals will start around 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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