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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    2023-24 InterMat's Year-End SoCon Awards

    The 2023-24 season is in the record books, but before moving on, it’s time to salute the top performers in each conference. We've already hit on the ACCBig TenBig 12 , EIWA , MAC and Pac-12. Let's finish up with the SoCon!

    SoCon Wrestler of the Year: Taye Ghadiali (Campbell)

    He got his hand raised 36 times throughout the 2023-24 season, but none was bigger for Taye Ghadiali than when it happened in the NCAA bloodround after a win over #5 Nathan Taylor (Lehigh) the EiWA champion. In doing so, Ghadiali became just the second Campbell wrestler to earn NCAA All-American honors and the first under current head coach Scotti Sentes. Earlier in the tournament, Ghadiali earned wins over both ACC finalists. He would go on to finish eighth in the nation. 

    One of the highlights of the regular season for Ghadiali was a third-place finish at the loaded Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. In six matches, Ghadiali notched wins over four eventual national qualifiers. 

    Coming into Vegas, Ghadiali started the year 7-0 with bonus points in each of his seven contests - including three falls over eventual NCAA qualifiers. 

    In the SoCon, Ghadiali was head and shoulders above the competition. None of his regular season duals or conference tournament matches went the full seven minutes. That meant that Ghadiali made his fourth SoCon final and captured his third title with little resistance. 

    Ghadiali finished the season with a 36-6 record and was 62-11 over the past two years. 


    SoCon Freshman of the Year: Isaiah Powe (Chattanooga)

    Prior to the 2024 SoCon Championships, you have to go back to 2017 to find a freshman who ended up winning the conference. This year had two; both of which were true freshmen. With apologies to Appalachian State’s Tomas Brooker, we’re focusing on Chattanooga’s 141 lber Isaiah Powe. 

    The Alabama native suffered a loss during his first weekend of collegiate competition, then only lost one other time before the NCAA Tournament. One of the highlights from Powe’s regular season was a third place finish at the 2024 Southern Scuffle - in front of his home crowd. Post-Scuffle, Powe went 11-0 and failed to earn bonus points in only two regular season matches. 

    In his three SoCon Championship matches, Powe combined to score 46 points. One of those wins came over Gardner-Webb’s national qualifier Todd Carter - an opponent that Powe defeated for the third time this season. 

    At nationals, Powe was able to tally a win before his elimination. In the consolations, Powe downed #16 Dylan Chappell (Bucknell), a two-time EIWA finalist. 

    Powe finished his first campaign in Chattanooga with a 25-4 record and plenty of hope for the future. 


    SoCon Coach of the Year: JohnMark Bentley (Appalachian State)

    In one of the more difficult decisions of the entire awards section, we’re going with Appalachian State’s leader JohnMark Bentley. The Mountaineers went 10-4 during the 2023-24 campaign; however, they wrestled a difficult out-of-conference schedule that featured the top three teams from the ACC and EIWA champion Cornell. In the middle of December, Appalachian State defeated North Carolina for a second consecutive season. 

    After losing the SoCon dual title to Campbell, it appeared as if the Camels were the favorite to regain the championship at the SoCon meet. That wasn’t the case as the Mountaineers stunned their rivals and the rest of the SoCon running away with the title 114 to 97.5. 

    Appalachian State finished the conference tournament with half of the ten champions, one of which was a true freshman at 184 lbs (Brooker). 

    At the 2024 NCAA Championships, the Mountaineers had three of their five qualifiers win multiple matches. They were led by 157 lber, Tommy Askey, who advanced to the NCAA Round of 12, despite starting as the 19th seed. Along the way, Askey defeated the #11 (Brayton Lee) and #14 (Cody Chittum) seeds. 


    Previous Award Winners

    SoCon Wrestler of the Year

    2023: Jonathan Millner (Appalachian State)

    2022: Jonathan Millner (Appalachian State)


    SoCon Freshman of the Year

    2023: Ethan Oakley (Appalachian State)

    2022: Heath Gonyer (Appalachian State)


    SoCon Coach of the Year

    2023: JohnMark Bentley (Appalachian State)

    2022: JohnMark Bentley (Appalachian State)

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