The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team grabbed the outright 2013 Southern Conference Regular Season Championship with tonight's 30-4 win over Campbell in Maclellan Gym. The Mocs controlled the action from the opening whistle, ending the regular season with an 11-6 record and a perfect 7-0 league mark. The Camels dropped to 7-10 overall and tied for second in the SoCon at 5-2.
"I don't think it's the championship that is special, I think it's the people represented with those championships that are special," stated head coach Heath Eslinger. "This is a great group of seniors and the fact that they got to go out in their last home match and get a win and a SoCon championship is important to us. They embody what Chattanooga Strong is all about and I'm excited for them."
The match started at 197, as UTC senior Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) led off for the Mocs. He came into the bout ranked as high as No. 18 in the nation and undefeated in dual matches at 14-0. He was pushed by the Camel's John Merickel, but pulled out a 7-3 win. That upped his overall record to 27-3, including a perfect 7-0 in league matches.
Sophomore Kevin Malone (Carrollton, Ohio) followed that with a double-overtime win against Joe Nolan at heavyweight. Malone scored a takedown in the second sudden-victory period for his 16th win of the year.
"What I liked about tonight is that it was dominating," said Eslinger. "We won the close matches and we dominated the matches we were ahead. That's the momentum that we needed going into the SoCon and the national tournaments."
Sophomore Nick Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) had a tough challenge in Campbell's Eric Montoya. Both were undefeated in SoCon matches, with Soto ranked No. 17 at 125 and Montoya listed at No. 27. Soto posted an impressive 7-1 decision to improve to 24-6 overall and give UTC a 9-0 lead.
Freshman Alex Ward (Chattanooga, Tenn.) continued to show his improvement with a 5-0 shutout over Tanner Bidelspach at 133. Senior Dean Pavlou (Cleveland, Tenn.) put UTC up 16-0 with his major decision (13-2) win over Michael Dahlstrom. For Pavlou, it was his career-best 22nd win of the season.
Junior Alex Hudson (Marietta, Ga.) scored a tech fall at 149 before Campbell got its only win at 157. Senior Josh Condon (Powder Spring, Ga.) clinched the match with his 12-7 decision over Paul Duggan at 165. Condon improved to 6-0 in SoCon matches this season. He finishes his career with a 14-0 record in SoCon regular season matches.
Freshman John Lampe (Fairdale, Ky.) got the crowd on its feet with a 3-1 decision over Taylor McGiffen. He scored a takedown at the buzzer to improve to 5-0 in SoCon matches.
Senior Robert Prigmore (Southlake, Texas) close out the match with a comeback win at 184. He fell behind early to James Cook after a takedown and two back points in the first period. Prigmore wore Cook down over the next five minutes, scoring five unanswered points to take the win.
"Dean Pavlou is what Chattanooga wrestling is all about," added Eslinger. "If I could make robots of him then we would be doing great. Josh Condon, again, he ends up dominating the guy and does a good job. He is undefeated in conference career as a student-athlete during the regular season and that's a big deal. Robert Prigmore did a nice job of fighting back in the match after he was down. He just wanted to go out on top and he got the win. Finally, Niko Brown just kept doing what he always does and got us a win. I'm very proud of those guys."
The Mocs will now begin training for the 2013 Southern Conference Tournament. The event is scheduled to Saturday, March 9, at VMI in Lexington, Va. Be sure to check back to GoMocs.com for more details on the SoCon Championships.
197: Nikolas Brown (UTC) - Dec. 7-3 - John Merickel (Campbell) - UTC 3-0
285: Kevin Malone (UTC) - 4-2 (2OT) - Joe Nolan (Campbell) - UTC 6-0
125: Nick Soto (UTC) - Dec. 7-1 - Eric Montoya (Campbell) - UTC 9-0
133: Alex Ward (UTC) - Dec. 5-0 - Tanner Bidelspach (Campbell) - UTC 12-0
141: Dean Pavlou (UTC) - MD 13-2 - Michael Dahlstrom (Campbell) - UTC 16-0
149: Alex Hudson (UTC) - TF 17-2 (7:00) - Cory Wagner (Campbell) - UTC 21-0
157: Nick Rex (Campbell) - MD 8-0 - Trey Stavrum (UTC) - UTC 21-4
165: Josh Condon (UTC) - Dec. 12-7 - Paul Duggan (Campbell) - UTC 24-4
174: John Lampe (UTC) - Dec. 3-1 - Taylor McGiffen (Campbell) - UTC 27-4
184: Robert Prigmore (UTC) - Dec. 5-4 - James Cook (Campbell) - UTC 30-4