UTC and SIUE battled at Miller Park in Chattanooga (Photo/Dale Rutemeyer, Chattanooga Athletics)
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team scored a 29-14 win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the season opener for both teams today. The Mocs and Cougars competed outside at Miller Park in Downtown Chattanooga on a Sunny and brisk afternoon in the Scenic City.
"It was a great first match against an opponent that we know pretty well," stated UTC head coach Kyle Ruschell. "They are a team that was in the SoCon two years ago, so getting them back down here was a great first event."
"Being outside was different for our guys and they all appreciated it. It got a little chilly, but we practice all year that it doesn't matter what the atmosphere looks like, you just control what you can control. They did that for the most part."
UTC opened with three-straight wins, including bonus points in the first two, to build a 12-0 lead. Junior Fabian Gutierrez got things started with a 13-2 major decision over Gage Datlovsky at 125. Datlovsky struck first with an early takedown, but Gutierrez controlled the action the rest of the way.
Sophomore Franco Valdes was strong in his start at 133. He scored a second period technical fall (24-6 - 3:23) over Aaron Schulist.
"Franco Valdes looked great," added Ruschell. "When he is offensive and has his mojo going, he is really good on his feet."
Senior Chris Debien followed up the early run with a 4-2 decision over Saul Ervin at 141. Debien is the defending SoCon champion at that weight and is No. 20 in the national rankings this week.
"We had a couple of great wins off the bat," said Ruschell. "Guys got their first wins of the year and got the ball rolling right away. We still have work to do. We have a lot of little positions, especially on bottom, that we can get better at."
SIUE closed the gap with a pin at 149 and a win at 157. Leading 12-9 took the next four to seal the dual victory.
Sophomores Drew Nicholson and Hunter Fortner had decision at 165 and 174, respectfully. Sophomore Matthew Waddell, a transfer from Oklahoma, scored a first-period pin in his UTC debut.
"Matthew Waddell coming out here, transferring in and making a statement right away with the lefty headlock, that is big for our team to see him compete that way," said Ruschell.
Senior Rodney Jones closed out the Mocs wins with a tech fall (18-2 - 6:30) at 197. His opponent was cut on the bridge of the nose early and was battling blood=stoppages throughout the match.
"Rodney kept his composure," explained Ruschell. "He was on a 30-second sprint a couple of times where his opponent's nose was bleeding and he kept on getting out there and scoring.
"Being a senior and a guy who has made it to nationals, he wants to get on the podium this year and that is what he is going to have to do all year."
Up next for the Mocs is a road trip to the Southeast Open in Roanoke, Va. Action takes place on Sunday, Nov. 3, and can be followed with scoring and video on FloWrestling.
The next home match is a tri-dual on Sunday, Nov. 10 with Illinois and Army. The visiting teams get the action started at 10:00 a.m. (E.S.D.), with the Mocs taking on Army at Noon and Illinois at 2:00 p.m. Season tickets and Southern Scuffle tickets are both on sale now on GoMocs.com.
125: Fabian Gutierrez (UTC) over Gage Datlovsky (SIUE) (MD 13-2) - UTC 4-0
133: Franco Valdes (UTC) over Aaron Schulist (SIUE) (TF 24-6 3:23) - UTC 9-0
141: No. 20 Chris DeBien (UTC) over Saul Ervin (SIUE) (Dec 4-2) - UTC 12-0
149: Max Kristoff (SIUE) over Mason Wallace (UTC) (Fall 0:01) - UTC 12-6
157: Justin Ruffin (SIUE) over George Carpenter (UTC) (Dec 7-2) - UTC - 12-9
165: Drew Nicholson (UTC) over Chase Deihl (SIUE) (Dec 8-2) - UTC 15-9
174: Hunter Fortner (UTC) over Kevin Gschwendtner (SIUE) (Dec 3-1) - UTC 18-9
184: Matthew Waddell (UTC) over Ryan Yarnell (SIUE) (Fall 1:31) - UTC 24-9
197: Rodney Jones (UTC) over Austin Andres (SIUE) (TF 18-2 6:30) - UTC 29-9
285: No. 17 Colton McKiernan (SIUE) over Grayson Walthall (UTC) (TF 16-0 4:18) - UTC 29-14