STILLWATER, Okla. -- Former Oregon State wrestler Les Gutches will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame during honors weekend in Stillwater, June 5-6, announced Thursday.
Gutches will be inducted as a Distinguished Member. He joins seven others in the 33rd class since the Hall of Fame began operations in 1976. He becomes the second Oregon State wrestler to be inducted since Robin Reed in 1978 with former head coach Dale Thomas also being inducted in 1980.
"It's a huge honor," Gutches said. "When you win a tournament, it's kind of what you've done then and there. But being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a great honor because it encompasses your body of work and what you've done overall as an athlete. Growing up you see all of the people being inducted and have great respect for them. So for the Hall of Fame to look at your work and deem it to be honored like this, it's huge."
Gutches was the first athlete to win USA Wrestling national titles in all five age group levels – Cadet, Junior, Espoir, University and Senior.
At South Medford High School in Oregon, Gutches won three state titles. He was also a district champion in the 400 meters for the track team.
He was a two-time NCAA champion while at Oregon State, wrestling from 1993-96 and compiling a 134-10 career record. He earned the Outstanding Wrestler award at the 1996 NCAA Championships and the Dan Hodge Trophy that same season. Over his final two collegiate seasons he allowed opponents just one takedown.
Gutches quickly made his mark in freestyle, winning the first of his five U.S. Nationals titles in 1996 and also the Olympic Trials title at 180.5 pounds.
In Atlanta, he would finish seventh. However, a year later at the 1997 World Championships in Russia, Gutches would earn a gold medal at 187.25 pounds. He would also earn a bronze medal at the 1999 World Championships.
Gutches currently is a commercial lender for a bank in Corvallis. He spends his free time helping with local high school wrestling programs and is actively involved with the Oregon State wrestling Orange Crush Club. He was inducted into the Oregon State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.