published Monday, February 14th, 2011

Wrestling: Mocs dominate Cats


125 — Prescott Garner (C) major dec. Matt Zarth, 12-1;

133 — Bucky Johnson (C) dec. Alex Radsky, 5-3;

141 — Cody Cleveland (C) dec. Vitaly Radsky, 5-4;

149 — Dean Pavlou (C) major dec. Scott Ray, 15-6;

157 — Josh Condon (C) won by forfeit;

165 — Dan Waddell (C) won by forfeit;

174 — Brandon Wright (C) dec. Scott Patrick, 14-7;

184 — Jason McCroskey (C) pinned Ike Crews, 1:10;

197 — Niko Brown (C) won by forfeit;

285 — Charlie Wolf (D) dec. Robert Prigmore, 4-1 OT.

Records: UTC 10-9, 4-0; Davidson 5-11, 0-4.

The outcome was never in doubt. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga knew going into Sunday's wrestling meet with Davidson that it would be spotted three forfeits.

The Mocs took those free 18 points and parlayed them into 41-3 victory Sunday at Maclellan Gym, their largest margin of victory since same day 47-0 and 40-0 wins in November of 2010 against Gardner-Webb and Anderson, respectively. It is their largest Southern Conference point spread since a 40-6 win at Davidson last season.

"It isn't so much team wins as individual production for us this time of year," said Mocs coach Heath Eslinger after his team scrambled above the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 21 when they entered the ACC Challenge at Chapel Hill, N.C. with a 3-1 record.

The victory extended the Mocs' win streak within the conference to 34 and will look to make it seven years without a league loss next Sunday when they host VMI. That meet, the Mocs' final match before the conference tournament, will begin at 2 p.m.

The forfeits may have made the outcome look worse than it was but UTC still won six of the seven matches that were wrestled. The Mocs' only loss came at heavyweight in overtime as 197-pound Robert Prigmore fell to Charlie Wolf 4-1.

Jason McCroskey (184) posted a first period pin and Prescott Garner (125) and Dean Pavlou (149) secured major decisions.

Leading 6-1 entering the third period, Garner quickly added a takedown and a three-point near-fall to build an 11-1 lead to go with a point of riding team. The win allowed him to improve to 18-11 overall and 3-1 in the league.

Pavlou, a former Tennessee high school state champ from Bradley Central, has been in and out of the lineup and is trying to fend off Alex Hudson for the Mocs' 149-pound slot. He had a field day against Davidson's Scott Ray, winning 15-6.

"He has been fighting some things mentally. He has made some progress," Eslinger said. "He's beginning to believe that he is capable of putting matches away early and then having some fun."

The sophomore went up 8-2 near the end of the second period and then went looking for the technical fall with a series of takedowns.

Brandon Wright (174) also had a good afternoon. The junior, last week's SoCon wrestler of the week, moved to 4-0 in league meets with a 14-7 win. He was up 6-2 at the end of the first period and scored six third-period points with two escapes and two takedowns.

There were two close bouts and the Mocs won each. Bucky Johnson beat Davidson 133-pound Alex Radsky 5-3 and Cody Cleveland won 5-4 over Vitaly Radsky at 141.

Johnson is just making his way back into wrestling shape after a knee injury this past summer and likely locked up the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament March 5 in Boone.

"I knew it woud be a tough fight but it wasn't as tough [physically] as that first match back against UNC Greensboro," Johnson said. "The coaches want me to get to my exhaustion point and then work past that. My lungs are feeling great, but it's getting my body back into wrestling shape. Right now my legs still seem to go after the second period."

Cleveland started out well but faltered and then had to take some injury time so trainers could check his knee. It took an escape in the last 30 seconds to improve his record to 10-0.

"He's OK. The kid he was wrestling was 17-3 and you don't get that kind of record without being pretty good," Eslinger said. "The good thing about Cody today was that while he didn't wrestle his best match he found a way to win."

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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