Little Rock picks up first-ever dual meet win in inaugural home opener

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- It was a day of firsts as the Little Rock wrestling team competed in their first-ever dual as well as inaugural home opener at the Jack Stephens Center. The Trojans made history with their first-ever team victory, defeating the University of the Ozarks 34-6 in front of 1,453 loud fans.

"It just feels good," said head coach Neil Erisman. "I was proud of our guys. We had some tough situations today where they could've quit, and they found a way to get it done, so it was a good start to our season."

The match began at 141 pounds, a fitting start as the bout featured the first Little Rock commit, Conner Ward. Out of the gates strong for the Trojans, the redshirt freshman finishing his match with a 6-3 decision to put the Little Rock team ahead 3-0.

After Ozarks took the next bout, Little Rock responded with five-straight match wins. Jose Champagne and Will Edgar, competing at 157 and 165 respectively, started off the streak strong with each wrestler winning by fall. Redshirt junior Champagne pinned his opponent at 2:39, while true freshman Edgar's came at 2:49 for major team points, six apiece.

Following the pins, three Arkansas natives each won their bout for the Trojans, helped by a friendly in-state crowd. Redshirt freshman Cash Jones picked up a decision at 174, hanging on to win 10-8. True freshman Matthew Muller had quite the exciting match at 184, grabbing an escape in the last few seconds to win 7-6. Right after, at 197, junior Dylan Johnson earned a 15-6 major decision in front of friends and family yelling in the stands with his name painted on their chests.

"Having three Arkansas starters in our lineup and getting three wins is huge," said Erisman. "I don't think that's ever happened before for a Division I team, so those guys really represented their home state well today."

True freshman Jayden Carson had the quickest individual victory of the day, winning by technical fall in just 2:19 after several near falls in a row. Junior Paul Bianchi wrapped up a successful day for the Trojans with a 13-3 major decision, finishing his bout with two takedowns in a row plus an extra point for riding time.

"I'm so grateful to [Ozarks head coach] Roy and his team for coming here and putting their foot on the line for our first dual," added Erisman. "Overall, today was just really special."

Next on the schedule for Little Rock's team is the Cougar Clash invitational, taking place all day on Saturday, Dec. 7 in Edwardsville, Illinois. However, Trojan fans should be sure to mark your calendars for the next Little Rock home dual on Wednesday, Dec. 18, when the team hosts Appalachian State. The first bout will begin at 6:30 p.m. CT.

125: Jayden Carson (Little Rock) TF Stephen Fox (Ozarks), 18-0 (2:19)
133: Paul Bianchi (Little Rock) MD Corey Muniz (Ozarks), 13-3
141: Conner Ward (Little Rock) DEC Sergio Nugent (Ozarks), 6-3
149: Jaylen York (Ozarks) DEC Tyler Brennan (Little Rock), 11-4
157: Jose Champagne (Little Rock) F Kade McMahon (Ozarks), pin at 2:39
165: Will Edgar (Little Rock) F Connor Klein (Ozarks), pin at 2:49
174: Cash Jones (Little Rock) DEC N'dayambaje John (Ozarks), 10-8
184: Matthew Muller (Little Rock) DEC Miguel Baray (Ozarks), 7-6
197: Dylan Johnson (Little Rock) MD Adolfo Sotolongo (Ozarks) 15-6
285: Jerhett Lee (Ozarks) DEC Gunner Cash (Little Rock), 4-0

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