Anthony Molton defeating Jake Ferri (Kent State) at the 2023 Virginia Duals (photo courtesy of Keith Lucas; Campbell Athletics)
Hi besties, long time no see…
It's been another week of #SoConWR scrapping - and the action got started on *gasp* Friday the 13th.
Campbell headed to Hampton for the Virginia Duals - where they kicked off the action with a 29-12 victory over Kent State, followed by a loss to Oklahoma (22-9). Previously unranked Anthony Molton (125) picked up wins over #14 Jake Ferri (Kent St) AND #11 Joey Prata (OU). He's finally cracked the rankings this week - coming in at #27, the second of two nationally-ranked Southern Conference 125-lb competitors. Gabe Hixenbaugh (133) and Levi Hopkins (197) both saw victories as well - pushing Hixenbaugh into the #27 slot at 133 lbs this week, after picking up wins over #30 Wyatt Henson (OU).
Gardner-Webb hosted Bellarmine for a conference dual, with the Runnin' Bulldogs besting the Knights 22-13, winning six of the bouts. Bellarmine, while still unable to compete for a conference title - is proving to be stiff competition. The 157 bout was nothing short of pure excitement - going into sudden victory overtime, Zac Cowan (BU) took the takedown over Tyler Brignola (GWU). The rule change to a two-minute sudden-victory overtime has definitely made wrestling more exciting to watch, not to mention it gives the athletes an additional minute to score. Anyway - Gardner Webb's Zach Price (141) and Sam Mora (197) delivered bonus points via a fall and a major decision to lead the team to their first conference victory.
UT-Chattanooga hosted Big XII opponent #24 West Virginia University - with a 22-16 loss. The Mocs picked up wins at 174, 184, 197, and 133. #14 Rocky Jordan started off the back-to-back-to-back win streak with a 9-0 major decision. Following Jordan's lead, #33 Matthew Waddell (184) landed his third straight fall over #30 Anthony Carman - pushing Waddell up to #29 in this week's rankings. Transfer Jake Boyd (197) took it down to the wire, winning a 3-2 tiebreaker. This man wrestled for about ten minutes y'all - TEN MINUTES. I'm sure that match was one to remember in Maclellan Gym. Last, but most certainly not least - the final win for the Mocs came from #16 (now #14) Brayden Palmer (133).
Varsity Gym was the place to be on Friday night - as Appalachian State hosted #9-ranked Virginia Tech in a nail-biting dual, resulting in a 23-11 loss. I was hoping to get to go up for this one, but life happens (as we know), and I ended up tuning in on Rokfin. #31 Tommy Askey (157) and #26 Will Formato served up back-to-back major decision wins, and #21 Caleb Smith beat #20 Eddie Ventresca - sending him up to #16 in this week's rankings.
App State's 174 lber Will Miller is a force to be reckoned with. He faced off against #3 Mekhi Lewis, scoring a takedown at the end of the second period - Coach JohnMark Bentley challenged if back points should have been awarded, and alas Miller lost a heartbreaker decision 6-5. Miller isn't quite in the rankings yet - but don't count him out, he's just getting started. Two bouts went into sudden-victory overtime - #11 Caleb Henson (149) came through with a takedown over #8 Jon Jon Millner, and #6 Sam Latona took down #24 Sean Carter (133) resulting in a knee injury for Carter after the match. It's been really awesome to see the wrestling culture grow and develop on the mountain, wrestling matches used to be pretty quiet and tame - now Varsity Gym is referred to as a "hostile environment" by many.
On Saturday, the Fighting Camels were back in action at the Virginia duals - upsetting #23 Maryland 21-14. Coming through with six victories - Gabe Hixenbaugh (133) led the team with a technical fall, followed by Kid Lightning Shannon Hanna (141) taking down #33 Kal Miller in sudden-victory overtime. This was followed by a 39-3 loss to #19 South Dakota State University. Hixenbaugh (133) definitely earned his slot in the rankings this week after he clinched the sole win over SDSU's Derrick Cardinal.
VMI headed up to Brooklyn for some dual meet action against Clarion, Long Island University , and Sacred Heart - taking home two losses and a win over Sacred Heart. Josh Yost (157) put four points on the board for the Keydets, landing a major decision over Trevor Elfvin (CLAR).
Dyson Dunham (133), Braxton Lewis (165), and Tyler Mousaw (197) all secured wins against Long Island - putting 12 points on the board total. Bouncing back from back-to-back losses - VMI had a strong showing against Sacred Heart, ending the weekend with a team score of 35-3, their lone loss at 174.
Gardner-Webb hosted back-to-back dual meets against Army and Queens - the Runnin' Bulldogs won SIX of the bouts, but unfortunately lost 20-15 to the Black Knights. #25 RJ Mosley (165) picked up a close 3-2 win over Dalton Harkins. Gardner Webb picked up their wins via decision, but was, unfortunately, no match for Army's bonus point wins from major decisions and falls. Gardner-Webb turned around and delivered a #SoConShutout to Queens - 45-0.
The Citadel hosted #22 Appalachian State to kick off their conference season - losing 3-26. The Mountaineers won nearly every weight class, but fell short at heavyweight, where John Chesser (Citadel) pinned Jacob Sartorio. Out of their nine wins of the evening, App State was victorious with one pin, a technical fall, two major decisions, and five decisions. The Mountaineers are now undefeated (2-0) in conference competition.
Last but certainly not least - I had the pleasure of going down to Davidson College this past Sunday. They hosted the Bellarmine Knights in the Duke Family Performance Hall - the first time a Southern Conference match has been held in a theater. It was a really great match day atmosphere! Holding duals in non-traditional venues is a great way to attract new fans. I heard some people happened to walk by and decided to stop in to watch the match. This dual was absolutely electric - it was one of those duals where the score didn't reflect how close the dual was wrestled. Bellarmine came away with a 27-12 victory, now 1-2 in conference competition, picking up six of the victories on Sunday afternoon. Heavyweight Thadd Huff made history, as he has been named the Division I leader for pins this season, sinking his thirteenth on Sunday. The first and next-to-last bouts went into sudden-victory overtime, with Anthony Spera (184, Davidson) and Tanner Peake (164, Davidson) securing takedowns to post three points apiece on the scoreboard.
This weekend is looking pretty stacked - dual meets are happening on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There is NO shortage of action in the SoCon. Check out our Live Streaming Guide so you won't miss a bit!
It's been real, it's been fun, it's been real fun besties. Hopefully, I can actually record a pod or some video content soon - but in the meantime,