Les Gutches, two-time NCAA Division I champion for Oregon State and member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic freestyle team, has pinned down a promotion from his employer, USA Wrestling.
The national governing body for wrestling in the U.S. announced Wednesday that Gutches will take the newly-created title of Associate Executive Director of Programs and Strategy.
Gutches, 39, who has been Director of Program Development since joining the USA Wrestling staff in January 2010, will now be responsible for overall wrestling programming, alignment of departmental objectives, and strategy as they apply to National Teams, Developmental Programs, and Membership, according to a statement issued by USA Wrestling.
The former collegiate and freestyle wrestler brings a blend of experience as a competitor, coach and business professional to his new job.
Gutches was a three-time NCAA All-American at Oregon State, winning NCAA titles at 177 pounds in 1995 and 1996. He was undefeated his junior and senior seasons. The Medford, Ore. native completed his Oregon State mat career with a 134-10 overall record, for an incredible .931 winning percentage.. Later that year, Gutches won the U.S. Nationals and U.S. Olympic Trials to earn a place on the freestyle team competing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. One year later, he won a gold medal at the 1997 World championships at 85 kg/187.25 pounds.
For his wrestling accomplishments, Gutches has earned a number of honors. In his senior year, he earned the Dan Hodge Trophy as outstanding college wrestler of 1996. He was welcomed as Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009, and into the Oregon State Hall of Fame in 2011. In 1999, Gutches earned a spot on Sports Illustrated magazine’s “50 Greatest Sports Figures” in the state of Oregon.
Off the mat, Gutches served as an assistant coach at Oregon State for eight seasons… then worked as a commercial lender and credit analyst for a bank in Corvallis, Ore.
Gutches cited his long involvement with USA Wrestling in commenting on his new job.
“My wrestling career started at seven years old with a local USA Wrestling club and it ended as a member of the National Team,” said Gutches. “This broad experience within the USA Wrestling system will be a valuable resource as I approach an expanded set of responsibilities within the organization. This opportunity will allow me to make a positive impact on every athlete in the USA Wrestling system, from the first-year wrestler to our Olympians. It’s critical that our grassroots, developmental, and National Team programs are working together to ensure that all of our wrestlers reach their full athletic and human potential.”
USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender weighed in on Gutches’ promotion.
“We are confident Les will have a tremendous impact in his new position with USA Wrestling,” said Bender. “He is a high-quality individual with strong skills and leadership abilities. It makes fundamental sense to connect our grassroots program with our elite program. This is an important step in moving USA Wrestling to the next level in key areas of our responsibility. It is great for USA Wrestling and for the sport in general.”
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