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Gutches receives extension for Olympic Trials Championship Series


Les Gutches (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), the 2000 U.S. Nationals freestyle champion at 187.25 pounds, has received an extension on his championship series for a position on the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team due to injury.

Gutches was injured in training and could not compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling, set for Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas, June 22-24. Only the 2000 U.S. Nationals champion has the right to request an extension in the championships series to a later site and date because of injury.

Article 4.1 of the 2000 Olympic Trials procedures states the following: "If in any weight class, the 2000 National Champion is unable to compete in the final wrestle-off due to injury or illness, he may request of the appropriate Sports Committee a delay of competition. The Sports Committee shall determine whether or not the delay shall be granted, and, if granted, shall determine the new date and site. The injury or illness must be certified in writing by a medical doctor approved by USAW. USAW approval of medical doctor will not be unreasonably withheld. Request for delay must be made prior to weigh-ins. Delay in wrestle-offs cannot be extended past six weeks prior to the official beginning of the Olympic Games."

Because of the delay awarded to Gutches, U.S. Nationals runner-up Charles Burton (Bloomington, Ind./New York AC) moves out of the Challenge Tournament and into the top seed position for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Burton will compete in the best-of-three series against the winner of the Challenge Tournament on Saturday, June 24.

The winner of the best-of-three series at 187.25 pounds does not qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team. He will have to face Gutches in a best-of-three series at a time and date to be announced for the position on the U.S. Olympic Team.

Gutches is a 1997 World Champion and 1999 World bronze medalist at his weight class. He placed seventh at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga. He has won five straight U.S. Nationals titles. He also boasts gold medals at the World Cup, the Pan American Games and the Goodwill Games.

Gutches is a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete. He was a two-time NCAA champion for Oregon State Univ., and is originally from Medford, Ore.

Extended series are rare at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling. The most recent extended series at the Olympic Wrestling Trials occurred in the 1988 Greco-Roman Olympic Trials series at 180.5 pounds between John Morgan and Jeff Steubing. Morgan, the national champion was injured and received an extension. In the special wrestle-off series, Morgan won two matches to one, to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team.

The other 15 U.S. Nationals champions (seven in freestyle and eight in Greco-Roman) entered the tournament and made weight and will compete in Saturday's finals series for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

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