Gutches Fills Wrestling Staff Vacancy

June 18, 2002

CORVALLIS, Ore. - World champion and two-time NCAA champion Les Gutches has joined Oregon State's wrestling staff as an assistant coach, OSU head coach Joe Wells announced Tuesday. Gutches, 29, spent last season as a volunteer assistant with the Beavers after retiring from competition; he was also a full-time assistant at OSU from 1996-99.

Gutches won NCAA titles at 177 pounds for OSU in 1995 and 1996, was a three-time Academic All-America and won the World Freestyle Championship at 187.3 pounds in 1997. He replaces Dan Hicks on OSU's staff; Hicks was hired as head coach at Cal State-Fullerton last week.

'We're fortunate to have Les rejoin our coaching staff on a full-time basis,' Wells said. 'He's been involved with wrestling at the highest levels in the world, and our athletes benefit from the experience he brings into our room. And he's demonstrated the ability to coach wrestling, to get his point across clearly to another athlete and make him better.'

Gutches graduated from OSU with a bachelor's degree in Physical Anthropology with a minor in German.

'He was an outstanding student at Oregon State,' Wells said. 'He had the same approach to academics that he did to wrestling - he was thorough, he was analytical, he left nothing to chance. He was complete in his preparation, and that's an attitude and a skill that he brings to his job as a coach.'

In addition to his previous coaching experience at OSU, Gutches was an assistant coach on the United States National Team at the 2002 Freestyle World Cup; the U.S. won the team title at that meet. Gutches is a USA Wrestling-certified coach at the Bronze level and has worked at a number of elite camps and clinics across the country.

'I've found a lot of satisfaction in coaching and trying to help other people improve,' Gutches said. 'It's a challenge to find the different ways to reach different athletes, but it's one that I really enjoy. I'm still growing as a coach, discovering a lot of things about how to teach and motivate, and that process is exciting.

'Plus, it's just great to be back at Oregon State - I had a lot of success here as a wrestler, and I'd like to help others have that same kind of success and build on the great tradition of OSU wrestling.'

During his career on the mat, Gutches was not only a world champion and NCAA champion but also a five-time U.S. Open (all ages) Freestyle Champion, the gold medalist at the 1998 Goodwill Games, the bronze medalist at the 1999 World Championships and a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team.

Gutches received the Dan Hodge Trophy as the nation's outstanding collegiate wrestler for the 1995-96 season. He went 134-10 during his Oregon State career, including a 33-0 record as a junior and a 36-0 mark as a senior, and he was named the Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Championships in his final season.

During his elite-level career, Gutches was named the Outstanding Wrestler at the U.S. Open in 1996 and 1998; he was also named Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee for 1997. He was a three-time Pan Am Games champion and a World Cup champion, as well.

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