2022 SoCon champion Shannon Hanna (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
6. Davidson Wrestling Centennial Celebration, Wrestling Facility Updates Revealed
Davidson College Wrestling hosted a Centennial Celebration this season, honoring alumni from 1966 up to the class of 2021 for their contributions to the program. The celebration weekend included an open practice, social events, and the unveiling of Davidson's locker room and team facility renovations. The match-day brunch also bolstered support from the Davidson administration, setting a precedent for other athletic departments and administrations to be more supportive towards their wrestling programs. To end the season on a high note, the Wildcats defeated Presbyterian College 26-11. Seniors Kyle Gorant (133), Finlay Holston (197), and Mitchell Trigg (285) posted wins to cap off their careers in Belk Arena.
5. Bellarmine Beats Southern Illinois Edwardsville, 19-18
The Bellarmine Knights have now completed five seasons, recording two seasons as a Division I program, and one season being under the direction of Head Coach Ned Shuck. Coach Shuck and company started the season off strong, with a huge win over MAC opponent Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville. It was a thrilling 18-18 match, coming down to tiebreaker criteria. Bellarmine was declared the winner after tallying up the total match points scored: 57-53. To make this victory even sweeter: this bout was battled at Knights Hall, where the Bellarmine fans came out to show their support for the Knights. Another cool stat about this dual? It's the first dual in Bellarmine's DI tenure that didn't include a forfeit.
4. Brayden Palmer's Third Place Comeback at the Southern Scuffle
A fresh face on the lineup for the Chattanooga Mocs, Brayden Palmer (133) made an amazing comeback at the Southern Scuffle to take third place. After dropping a first-round loss to Cornell's Dom LaJoie, Palmer battled back to face off against conference foe Codi Russell (Appalachian State) in the consolation semifinals, posting a 9-5 win. For third, Palmer won in a heated 4-2 sudden victory overtime bout over an unattached Cullan Schriever (Iowa).
3. Campbell Wins Fourth Straight SoCon Tournament Championship
Seasoned by a second season under Scotti Sentes (please enjoy the alliteration), the Camels swept a fourth-straight Southern Conference Tournament title. Nine wrestlers placed, five qualified for the NCAA Championships, four took home first place finishes, four more were conference runners-up, and there were three additional placewinners. The top performances of the tournament came from conference champions Shannon Hanna (141), Caleb Hopkins (184), and Taye Ghadiali (285). Levi Hopkins (197) was named the recipient of the Pinnacle Award, an
accolade reserved for the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team. Josh Heil (149) and Korbin Meink (125) earned automatic bids at the tournament, while Domenic Zaccone (133) received an at-large bid to the Big Dance in Detroit.
2. Dazjon Casto's NCAA Tournament Run
A senior for The Citadel, Casto (157) had an impressive NCAA tournament. His first-round matchup against returning national champion Austin O'Connor (UNC) resulted in a nail-biting sudden-victory overtime match, when Casto took O'Connor down and was able to score some backpoints, coming out on top with an 8-2 win. This was a huge first-round upset for not only the SoCon but the entire tournament, as we saw many All-Americans face defeat. In his second bout of the day, Casto had a tough 3-2 loss against North Dakota State's #6-seeded Jared Franek, leaving him the last Bulldog standings for The Citadel. Friday morning was another large day for Dazjon, as he pushed forward with back-to-back victories over Virginia Tech's Connor Brady (3-1, SV-1) and UVA's #14 Jake Keating (FALL 4:18). Casto's season came to an end with his final match on Friday evening in the bloodround, taking a tough 7-6 loss to Hunter Willits (Oregon State). Casto will be using his final year of eligibility at Pitt, where he recently announced his transfer.
1. Jonathan Millner Becomes a Two-Time All-American and Announces His Return to Appalachian State
Millner, a North Carolina native, became a two-time All-American for the Mountaineers this past March in Detroit. Not only did Jonathan earn the sixth-place finish at 149, but he also became the 20th overall All-American for Appalachian and the second two-time NCAA All-American in App State Wrestling history. This season most of us wondered if Millner would use his last year of eligibility. The question was raised time and time again, with Millner answering "We'll see," or "Y'all will know soon." The decision day came, and on April 8th, Jonathan Millner and Cody Bond (157) announced their return to use their final years of eligibility with the Mountaineers. The announcement of Millner's return bolstered quite the buzz on social media, garnering support from our own Willie Saylor and The Grind's JB - offering NIL partnerships with Millner. Next season the Mountaineers might see their first three-time All-American…or quite possibly their first NCAA champion.