Gutches Burton weigh in for Special Wrestle off for U S Olympic Freestyle Wrestling Team
Les Gutches (Corvallis, Ore./Sunkist Kids) and Charles Burton (Bloomington, Ind./New York AC) have weighed in for a Special Wrestle-off for a position on the U.S. Olympic Freestyle Wrestling Team at 85 kg/187.25 pounds. The best-of-three series will be held at the Fargodome on the campus of North Dakota State Univ. in Fargo, N.D., Thursday, July 27. The session times for the Wrestle-off are at 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. If a third match is needed, it will be held during the second session, after a rest period. The Special Wrestle-off became necessary when Gutches, the 2000 U.S. Nationals champion, was unable to compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Dallas, Texas, June 22-24, due to injury. Under the Olympic Trials rules, only the national champion can delay the finals series due to injury. Burton earned the right to challenge Gutches by winning the competition in Dallas, defeating Lee Fullhart (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye) in the championship series at the weight class, two matches to one. It will be a rematch of the 2000 U.S. Nationals finals, won by Gutches. The athletes also met in the finals of the 1999 World Team Trials, which Gutches won, two matches to none. Gutches is a 1997 World Champion and a 1999 World bronze medallist. He placed seventh in the 1996 Olympic Games and seventh in the 1998 World Championships. He boasts gold medals at the 1998 Goodwill Games, the 1999 Pan American Games and the 1999 World Cup. Gutches was a two-time NCAA champion for Oregon State Univ. and is originally from Medford, Ore. Burton was second in the 2000 U.S. Nationals and the 1999 World Team Trials. He was also third in the 1999 U.S. Nationals. Burton won a gold medal at the Takhti Cup in Tehran, Iran this year. He was third in the 1996 NCAA Championships for Boise State Univ. and is originally from Meridian, Idaho. The Special Wrestle-off is being held alongside the Asics/Vaughan Junior Nationals and the AdvoCare Cadet Nationals, which are being held in Fargo this week. It is the largest wrestling tournament in the world, with up to 3,600 entries during the week. Gutches won both Cadet and Junior National titles when he was a youth, although the competition was not held in Fargo at the time. The rest of the U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team was determined in Dallas and is currently in Colorado Springs, Colo. at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, participating in the first segment of the Olympic Team Training Camp. The winner of the Special Wrestle-off series is expected to join his teammates in Colorado Springs for training later this week.