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Campbell captures second straight SoCon title

Campbell captured its second staright SoCon title (Photo/Campbell Athletics)

BOONE, N.C. -- Campbell captured its second straight Southern Conference Wrestling Championship behind five individual titles and nine medalists Sunday at the Holmes Convocation Center.

Claiming individual championships were Korbin Meink at 125, Noah Gonser at 133, Josh Heil at 141, Quentin Perez at 165 and Andrew Morgan at 184, leading Campbell to its third SoCon tournament championship in four years (2017, 2019, 2020). All five secured their spots in the 2020 NCAA Championships.

In addition to CU's five conference champions, Jere Heino also won his true place match, securing six Camels trips to the NCAA Championships, tying another school record.

Also taking podium finishes were runner-ups Matthew Dallara at 157 and Jere Heino at heavyweight, while Austin Kraisser at 174 pounds and Chris Kober at 197 both placed third for the Camels.

Austin Kraisser also earned the SoCon Pinnacle Award, given to the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship winning team.

Appalachian State's Cary Miller and VMI's Neal Richards, meanwhile, shared the SoCon's Co-Most Outstanding Wrestler Award.

Campbell posted bonus point wins in all nine of its first round matchups with five pins and four major decisions. Seven Camels advanced to the championship round, matching another school record, with three in consolation brackets.

Campbell took a 10 point lead into the championship round, with both CU and App State advancing seven wrestlers apiece to the finals, with four head to head matchups. The Camels took the advantage at 133 pounds and 165, with App State earning the title at 157 and 285.

Seeded third at 125, Meink advanced to the finals with a 5-3 decision over Appalachian State's Sean Carter, avenging a 6-4 regular season loss to the 2020 SoCon Freshman of the Year. Meink also topped The Citadel's Jordie White with a 10-2 major decision in the day's opening round. The junior took his second straight 125 pound title with a 7-4 decision over No. 18 Fabian Gutierrez of Chattanooga.

Cruising to the 133 finals with a pair of pins, the 2020 SoCon Wrestler of the Year defeated Gardner-Webb's Will Edmiston (1:16) to start his tournament run, then pinned Davidson's Kyle Gorant (4:27) in the semifinals. Gonser collected his first SoCon championship with a 4-1 decision over Appalachian State's Codi Russell.

Heil became Campbell's first three-time SoCon Champion, handing Chattanooga's Mason Wallace a 6-4 decision in the 141 finals. Heil outscored his first two opponents by a 26-2 score with a pair of major decisions. The redshirt junior topped Davidson's David Loniewski 14-1, and pulled away from The Citadel's Jacob Dado 12-1 to make his third career SoCon finals appearance.

Perez claimed his second SoCon championship and punched a ticket to his third career NCAA appearance with a 12-4 major decision over Appalachian State's William Formato in the 165 finals. Perez was one of five Camels to start their SoCon Championship runs with bonus wins in each of their first two bouts. The redshirt senior pinned Presbyterian's Parker Corwin in just 42 seconds, then distanced himself from The Citadel's Dazjon Casto in the third period, coming away with a 14-4 major decision.

Morgan captured his first SoCon Championship, topping Chattanooga's Matthew Waddell with a 10-2 major decision in the 184 pound title bout. Morgan outscored Waddell 6-0 in the third period for the major decision, his third bonus point victory of the day. On the way to his third consecutive SoCon finals appearance, Morgan registered a pair of pins, starting with a 47-second victory over The Citadel's Cooper Youngblood. Morgan then pinned Gardner-Webb's Samuel Mora (4:52) in the semifinal round.

Heino also made his way to his third SoCon finals showing, defeating VMI's Chris Beck with a 13-4 major decision. A Helsinki, Finland native, Heino collected Campbell's fifth first round pin, downing Gardner-Webb's Gabriel Pickett (1:17). The redshirt senior battled Appalachian State's Cary Miller to overtime in the championship match, falling 5-3. Heino also clinched his third NCAA berth, pinning The Citadel's Michael McAleavey (2:31).

At 157 pounds, Dallara added to Campbell's first round bonus points with a 12-2 major decision over Gardner-Webb's Christian Trimble. The sophomore clinched his first SoCon finals appearance with a 9-5 decision over Chattanooga's Tyler Shilson, before falling to App State's Matt Zovistoski 12-5.

Austin Kraisser clinched his third career podium finish, going 3-1 in the tournament, with his lone loss coming to No. 18 Neal Richards of VMI, 3-1 in extra time. Kraisser opened the day by pinning Davidson's Steven Newell (4:34), and bouncing back with another fall, topping Gardner-Webb's Evan Schenk (4:51). The redshirt junior defeated Chattanooga's Hunter Fortner 6-5 with riding time in the third place bout.

Kober made the podium for the second straight season, defeating Gardner-Webb's Roderick Davis 4-3 in the consolation final at 197 pounds. The 2019 184 pound champ overcame a semifinal loss to Appalachian State's Demazio Samuel, 10-3, pinning The Citadel's Martin Duane (1:53).

Next up, qualifying Camels will head to the 2020 NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, Minn., March 19-21. In addition to the league's 14 wrestlers who punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships, at-large bids will be announced next week.

Campbell, ranking as high as No. 12 in the country (InterMat), completed a sweep of the Southern Conference's regular season with a 35-13 win at Davidson on February 23, claiming its second straight league dual championship.

The Camels finished the regular season at 11-2 overall and a perfect 7-0 in SoCon duals, winning its final nine matchups that included all seven conference bouts. The dual title is the first outright regular season title for the Camels in program history, also completing a sweep of its conference opponents for the first time.

Final Team Standings
1. Campbell, 117.0
2. Appalachian State, 102.0
3. Chattanooga, 75.0
4. The Citadel, 30.0
5. Davidson, 29.0
6. VMI, 28.0
7. Gardner-Webb, 16.5
8. Presbyterian College, 1.0

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