RAIDER ROUNDUP: SOU wins title at National Duals
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Southern Oregon University women’s wrestling team hit its biggest program milestone yet Saturday, taking down No. 5 Menlo (Calif.) in the semifinals and No. 2 Grand View (Iowa) in the final to capture the NAIA title at the U.S. Marine Corps/NWCA National Dual Meet Championships inside the Kentucky Expo Center.
The top-ranked Raiders came from behind in both duals, ultimately topping Menlo 25-18 and Grand View 22-18, thanks to a pair of upper-weight seniors: 170-pounder Joye Levendusky and 191-pounder Grace Kristoff. Trailing the Oaks 18-17, Levendusky, ranked No. 3, and Kristoff, ranked No. 5, scored back-to-back technical fall shutouts against Jessica Mendietta and Nikita Dhaliwal. And trailing the Vikings 17-15, Levendusky put the Raiders on top with a 10-0 technical fall over No. 4 Abby McIntyre before Kristoff clinched the championship with a 3-1 decision over No. 11 Olivia Brown.
SOU’s previous best finish at the tournament had been last year’s third-place showing. The team went on to take second place at the NAIA National Tournament.
This time around, the Raiders established themselves as the clear favorites to win their first NAIA championship two months from now.
They started the tournament Friday by dominating Ottawa (Kan.) 43-6 and No. 9 Texas Wesleyan 32-10. The Menlo dual was a rematch of a Dec. 9 meeting in Ashland, where the Raiders rolled the Oaks 36-8 for just their second win in the head-to-head series.
They won six of 10 matches this time around, getting a pin from Esthela Trevino (101 pounds), more bonus points on a technical fall from Emily Se (143), and decisions from Macie Stewart (109) and Bella Amaro (136). At 155, Shannon Workinger briefly gave the Oaks a lead with a first-round pin of Sage Teixeira, setting the stage for Levendusky and Kristoff.
The Raiders and Vikings split their 10 matches. The difference, however, was that the Raiders still earned a team point in four of their five losses, withstanding a run of four consecutive GVU wins that led up to the final two matches.
Before Levendusky and Kristoff came through, Trevino (101) won by technical fall, Natalie Reyna (109) worked a 4-2 win over No. 11 Lita Cruz, and top-ranked Carolina Moreno (123) blanked No. 4 Catharine Campbell in a technical fall.
Levendusky finished the tournament with a 4-0 record, winning by technical fall in every match. Trevino, ranked No. 3 at 101, was also perfect with a pin, two technical falls and a forfeit victory. Kristoff didn’t compete until Saturday, having only accepted a forfeit victory on Friday. Reyna and Stewart combined to keep SOU unbeaten in the 109 ranks.
SOU 72, CORBAN 62: Southern Oregon climbed back over .500 in the Cascade Conference with a win over the Warriors at Lithia Motors Pavilion, holding them to a season-worst 29-percent mark from the field and 20 points below their average.
Senior guard Will Graves, a regular in the starting lineup, came off the bench and answered with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. One of his four 3-pointers put the Raiders a lead they never relinquished with 12:29 left to play, and another — beyond 30 feet deep at the end of the shot clock — gave them a 58-51 edge and all the momentum they needed with seven minutes left. They were firmly in control the rest of the way.
SOU improved to 9-6 overall and 5-4 in conference play, salvaging a weekend split after losing in the final seconds Friday to Bushnell. The Warriors saw their winning streak end at five games, dipping to 11-4 and 7-2.
The Raiders clung to a 35-33 advantage in the first half, where senior guard Atmar Mundu totaled 10 of his 17 points. Junior forward Dominic McGarvey came up big with 11 points and 12 rebounds, logging his second double-double of the season by scoring nine in the second half. He pulled down 23 rebounds on the weekend.
SOU 71, CORBAN 34: At Ashland, a night after keeping its opponent scoreless over the final five-plus minutes, No. 23 Southern Oregon picked up where it left off and put on a defensive clinic against Corban at Lithia Motors Pavilion.
In their seventh consecutive Cascade Conference win, the Raiders (12-3 overall, 8-1 CCC) stuck the Warriors (8-7, 5-4) to 12-of-58 shooting — a 21-percent mark that was the lowest for an SOU foe since 2015 — blocked a season-high nine shots and forced 17 more turnovers.
Sophomore forward Clara Robbins grabbed the spotlight and continued a recent ascent with her career double-double, going for game-highs of 12 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. It was the Hillsboro product's fourth double-digit rebounding games in her last six outings; she hadn't produced one in 43 appearances before this stretch.
She and the Raiders went into the break with a 27-19 edge as the Warriors shot 7-of-33 in the half, but they ended the fight by outscoring them 27-9 in the third quarter. In their highest-scoring period of the season, Robbins totaled eight points, five boards and two blocks and was one of seven different Raiders to score.
MENLO INVITE: At Atherton, Calif., Southern Oregon 174-pounder Alex Hernandez and 197-pounder Andrew Herrera won titles, and two other Raiders advanced to the finals.
Hernandez, a redshirt-freshman ranked No. 11 in the NAIA at 174, needed just a 20-1 technical fall over Juan Ruiz before taking a win by medical forfeit in the final. Herrera, a junior, won three times — starting with pins over Menlo (Calif.)'s Cameron Bauman and teammate Brayden Clayburn, and finishing with an 8-5 decision against Wesley Wilson of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Evan Potter, the NAIA's No. 2-ranked 133-pounder, opened with a semifinal pin of unattached wrestler Kyle Jeong. He took his first loss of the season in the first-place match, dropping a 5-3 decision to Menlo's No. 17-ranked Jovan Garcia.
Andres Ramirez was the other Raider finalist at 157, earning back-to-back decisions against unattached Josiah Hurd (9-5) and teammate Hunter Harwood (5-2) before falling by 11-3 major decision to Menlo's No. 6 Abraham Del Toro in the championship.