SOU second after first day at wrestling nationals

Ten Southern Oregon University wrestlers are still alive, seven are in the quarterfinals and the Raiders are in second place in the team standings after the first day of the NAIA National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

Through Thursday's first three rounds, top-ranked Grand View of Iowa is the frontrunner in the team title chase with 45 points, third-ranked Southern Oregon has racked up 38.5 and fourth-ranked Great Falls (Mont.) is third with 36.5. Oklahoma City (33) and Montana State-Northern (30) round out the top five.

Though two days of wrestling remain, the Raiders are one of the few teams capable of passing Grand View, since a meet-high nine Vikings have advanced to the quarterfinals, where point hauls jump to seven per win — plus possible bonus points — in the championship round.

"(This) morning is where things happen," SOU head coach Mike Ritchey said. "It's anybody's race right now. Nobody has really knocked this thing out of the park, yet."

The seven Raiders still in the hunt for national titles are: Mitchell Lofstedt at 125-pounds, Jimmy Eggemeyer at 149, Brian Lemmon and Derek Mestrovich at 165, Brock Gutches at 174 and Derrick Rottenberg and Austin Vanderford at 184.

Rottenberg, the eighth-ranked 184-pounder, pulled off perhaps the most notable victory for the Raiders, stunning top-ranked Kody Kersten of Midland to advance to the elite eight. Fellow 184-pounder Vanderford, meanwhile, dominated his second-round match, rolling to a 16-1 win over Scott Stewart of Cumberlands.

Rottenberg and Vanderford are on opposite sides of the bracket, meaning a championship showdown isn't out of the question.

"(Rottenberg) just wrestled a real solid, fundamental match," Ritchey said of Rottenberg's second-round upset. "(Kersten) is really dangerous — he pinned a couple guys — but Derek just stayed fundamentally sound and wrestled a really smart match. By the end — we call it breaking a guy — (Kersten) wasn't really trying to win, he was just trying to get the pin."

Lofstedt, ranked No. 1 in his weight class, was his usual dominant self, pinning first-round opponent Alex Rust of Morningside in 1 minute, 51 seconds, then smothering Bo Newport of Baker 16-1.

After a first-round bye, Eggemeyer, ranked fourth, picked up a pin in the second round then pulled out a tough 12-10 decision over Brandon Starkey of Concordia to move into the 149-pound quarters.

Lemmon, ranked eighth, and Mestrovich, ranked 10th, combined for a pin and three major decisions in the 165-pound bracket. If both prevail in the quarterfinals, they'll meet in the semis.

Gutches earned two pins in a combined 8:03.

Ritchey said SOU's seven remaining championship hopefuls must run the table this morning.

"I think we need to get everybody through to stay in the race," he said. "We've got less guys (than Grand View) on the backside, so we need to keep winning matches. This next set of matches are crucial. We'll have seven guaranteed All-Americans if they all win. I don't know if we're capable, but I like where we're sitting. But we need to kind of hit a home run in the morning."

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