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Campbell wins title at SoCon Championships

Campbell claimed its second SoCon title in three years (Photo/Todd Drexler)

BOONE, N.C. -- Behind eight medalists, Campbell held off Appalachian State to claim its second Southern Conference Championship in three years Sunday at the Holmes Convocation Center.

All 10 Camels wrestled for medals, including seven CU wrestlers in the championship finals, with eight making the podium.

125 pounder Korbin Meink, Josh Heil at 149, Benjamin Barton at 157 and 184 pounder Chris Kober all earned individual championships. Taking runner-up were Noah Gonser at 133 pounds, Andrew Morgan at 174 and heavyweight Odgerel Batkhishig. Nathan Boston also claimed third at 141 pounds.

In addition to the four Camels who earned NCAA automatic bids with conference championships, Morgan also punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships, winning his true place match against Kyle Homet.

Cary Kolat was named SoCon Coach of the Year after guiding the Camels to the conference's regular season and tournament championships. Austin McNeill also earned the SoCon Pinnacle Award, given to the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship winning team.

Campbell, who shared the SoCon's regular season championship with Appalachian State and Chattanooga, led by half a point heading into the championship round, and fended off the Mountaineers, who placed six in the finals, with four victories. Appalachian State, meanwhile registered three title wins, including Codi Russell at 133, Randall Diabe at 197 and Cary Miller at 285 pounds.

Campbell finished with 95 points, just in front of the Mountaineers' 92.5. Chattanooga ended the day at 62 points, followed by 42.5 for The Citadel, 23.5 for Gardner-Webb, 22.5 for Davidson, while VMI rounding out team scoring with 17 points.

Meink went 2-0 on the day, beginning with a 9-3 decision over DeAndre Swinson-Barr from Appalachian State. The sophomore, seeded second, then topped the tournament's 125 pound No. 1 seed, Alonzo Allen 6-0 to claim his first SoCon Championship.

Heil also went a perfect 2-0 in the tournament, opening with a tech fall win over The Citadel's Selwyn Porter, 16-1 (4:37), then defeating Chattanooga's Tanner Smith, 6-2. A redshirt sophomore, Heil remained perfect in SoCon Championships action, also sweeping through the 2017 tournament as a freshman.

The No. 1 seed at 157, Barton cruised to his first SoCon Championship, posting an 82 decision over Appalachian State's Angel Najar in the semifinals before claiming a 4-1 decision over Davidson's Tony Palumbo, who reached the 157 finals as the No. 6 seed.

Kober opened his run with the Camels' quickest fall of the day, pinning Gardner-Webb's Nathaniel Kale in just 30 seconds to advance. The sophomore locked in a finals appearance with a 13-6 decision over Dominic Lampe from Chattanooga, where he avenged his only SoCon loss of the season, edging Alan Clothier of Appalachian State 4-3.

With a first round bye, Gonser moved past Chattanooga's Jake Huffine with a 10-0 victory in the 133 semis, where Codi Russell of Appalachian State took the title with a 9-4 decision.

Before securing his first NCAA Championships appearance, Morgan collected the third of four first round pins for the Camels, pinning Kyle Kretzer of the The Citadel (2:05). He then defeated Mountaineer Thomas Flitz 8-3, before falling in a 16-6 major decision to SoCon Wrestler of the Year Neal Richards from VMI, taking silver.

Batkhishig scored early and often for the Camels, posting a first round fall over Jack Trautman of GWU (1:22) and a 21-9 major decision over Chatt's Connor Tolley. He took runner-up in the finals, falling to Appalachian State's Cary Miller, 8-1.

The first Camel on the mat Sunday, Boston started the day by pinning The Citadel's Keegan Connolly in 47 seconds, but a 7-4 quarterfinal loss to 2018 champ Irvin Enriquez sent the redshirt senior to the consolation bracket. He edged VMI's Dom Gallo, 3-1, and GWU's Blake Mulkey, 3-2, to win the consolation finals and earn bronze.

Cameron Pine at 165 pounds and 197 pounder Austin McNeill also finished fourth in their respective weight classes.

The 2019 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships takes place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh March 21-23. Wrestling fans can buy and sell official tickets through the NCAA Ticket Exchangeâ„¢. This gives ticket holders who are unable to attend a session a place to safely sell their tickets. Buyers can also get their tickets knowing the tickets are authentic and guaranteed, visit NCAA.com for more information.

Final standings
1. Campbell: 95
2. Appalachian State: 92.5
3. Chattanooga: 62
4. The Citadel: 42.5
5. Gardner-Webb: 23.5
6. Davidson: 22.5
7. VMI: 17

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