Special Wrestle-off for U.S. Olympic Freestyle Wrestling Team between Les Gutches and Charles Burton

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Gary Abbott (USA Wrestling)

SPECIAL WRESTLE-OFF FOR U.S. OLYMPIC FREESTYLE WRESTLING TEAM BETWEEN LES GUTCHES AND CHARLES BURTON AT 187.25 POUNDS SET FOR THURSDAY, JULY 27 IN FARGO, N.D.    The Special Wrestle-off for a position on the 2000 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Wrestling Team at 85 kg (187.25 pounds) between Les Gutches (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) and Charles Burton (Bloomington, Ind./New York AC) has been scheduled for Thursday, July 27 at the FargoDome on the campus of North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D.    It will be a best two-out of three series, with the winner qualifying to compete in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. The first session will be at 9:00 a.m., and the second session is set for 3:00 p.m. If a third match is required, it will be conducted during the second session, after the athletes have received a rest period.    This Special Wrestle-off will be held alongside the Asics Tiger Junior National Championships and the AdvoCare Cadet National Championships, the world's largest wrestling tournament, which will be held in Fargo, N.D. from July 21-29.    Gutches, the 2000 U.S. Nationals freestyle champion at 187.25 pounds, received an extension on his championship series for a position on the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team due to injury. He was injured in training and could not compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling, held at 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."     Burton earned the right to challenge Gutches by winning the 187.25-pound tournament at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Dallas. He defeated Lee Fullhart (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) in a best-of-three finals series on June 24 to qualify for the Special Wrestle-off.    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.     Burton lost to Gutches in the finals of the 2000 U.S. Nationals, and also placed second to Gutches at the 1999 Freestyle World Team Trials. He won a gold medal at the 2000 Takhti Cup in Iran, and a silver medal at the 2000 Dan Kolov Tournament in Bulgaria. He was also third at the 1999 U.S. Nationals. Burton was third in the 1996 NCAA Championships for Boise State Univ., and is originally from Meridian, Idaho.    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.