Top-seeded 285 lber Taye Ghadiali (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
2023 SoCon Conference Preview
12 total allocations/25 in 2022
Where: Boone, North Carolina (Appalachian State University)
How to Watch: ESPN+
Over the past decade, one of the most competitive conference tournaments, from a team standpoint, has been the SoCon. Five times in the last ten years the top-two squads in the team race have finished within six points of each other. The 2022 edition of the SoCon Championships was one of those occasions as Campbell edged Appalachian State (100.5 to 95) to claim their fourth consecutive SoCon title. Can the Camels make it five? As has been the case in each of those four previous tournaments, the Mountaineers have an imposing team and are capable of winning it all. Appalachian State posted a perfect dual record this year with a 22-14 win over Campbell accounting for the only time that a SoCon team posted double-digits in team points against them. Campbell is battle-tested with their tough dual schedule and a history of recent success at this tournament. Also in the mix is Chattanooga. Though it doesn't appear that the Mocs have the firepower to unseat either of the top-two teams, they are a talented group that looks secure in third place.
In addition to watching out for an exciting team race, there are some excellent individuals to watch. Jonathan Millner will be wrestling in his final conference tournament and has the opportunity to go down as one of the best wrestlers in SoCon history.
The SoCon was hurt on conference allocation release day, as they were only earmarked for 12 total allocations, across ten weights. That's something that should rise as the young teams in the league improve. But for Saturday, it should make for intense competition as NCAA qualifying slots will be highly-coveted and rare.
Below is our weight-by-weight preview of the action, along with predictions for top-four finishers at all ten weights and a team race projection. Wrestlers bolded are the ones we have pegged to receive automatic qualifying bids at their respective weight classes.
It surprised me slightly when allocations were released and the SoCon only received one slot at 125 lbs. The favorite will be #14 Caleb Smith (Appalachian State), a 2022 NCAA qualifier, who has had an excellent season. Smith hasn't tasted defeat since he finished fifth at the Southern Scuffle. Last year, Smith needed an at-large berth to get to Detroit. He's hoping that isn't the case this time. Of course, Campbell's #25 Anthony Molton would like to disrupt the plans this year. Molton's regular season was highlighted by a dual win over former high school teammate and #4 Matt Ramos (Purdue). But, Molton won't get the second seed as he was beaten by Dominic Chavez (Presbyterian) in late-January. Chavez had a handful of losses at the beginning of the year which prevented him from earning an allocation for the SoCon.
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