Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press - UTC's Dan Waddell wrestles against Ted Gottwald of VMI in the Mocs' final home meet of the season at Maclellan Gym on Sunday.
The takedown T-shirt tosser had to ice down his shoulder Sunday evening following the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's wrestling win over Virginia Military Institute.
Every time a Moc gets a takedown, a free T-shirt in flung into the crowd, and a record number of T-shirts went into the stands yesterday afternoon in the Mocs' 31-6 victory over the Keydets.
All told, UTC wrestlers accumulated 39 takedowns as the Mocs won eight of the 10 matches including back-to-back technical falls from Bucky Johnson at 133 and Cody Cleveland at 141, a technical fall from Dan Waddell at 165 and a major decision from Dean Pavlou at 149.
A number of the Mocs' individual points came with 10 or fewer seconds remaining till the end of a period.
"We got some takedowns but there were places where we needed to get more. If you're able to get 10, good, but if you get 10 you then need to be working for 11," said UTC coach Heath Eslinger. "It was good to see some of the guys trying to score through the whistle rather than being content."
The Mocs end the regular season on a five-match win streak and they stretched the school's Southern Conference win streak to 35 in taking their seventh straight league title.
They won't be resting on their laurels, especially with Eslinger in the practice room.
"We have built some momentum heading into the conference tournament, but we still have a lot of work to do," he said.
The three Mocs seniors who wrestled were impressive although only two of the three -- Cleveland and 184-pound Jason McCroskey -- won their matches. Heavyweight Matt Lettner lost a 3-0 decision to the Keydets' Josh Wine, who's ranked 17th nationally. Lettner was behind 1-0 late in the match. He went for the win, slipped and wound up giving an easy takedown as the buzzer sounded to end the match.
Cleveland's win over VMI's David Yost came as a result of near-fall points as much as takedowns. He scored seven points on near-falls on his way to a 21-4 technical fall that came with just five seconds left in the match.
UTC 31, VMI 6
(Meet started at 157 pounds)
125 -- John Pope (VMI) dec. Prescott Garner, 10-8; 133 -- Bucky Johnson (C) tech. fall over Luke Todd, 5:45;
141 -- Cody Cleveland (C) tech. fall over David Yost, 6:55; 149 -- Dean Pavlou (C) major dec. Ryan Goodsell, 18-6;
157 -- Josh Condon (C) dec. Mike Burnett, 8-5; 165 -- Dan Waddell (C) tech. fall over Tedd Gottwald, 6:57; 174 -- Brandon Wright (C) dec. Matt Brock, 3-1; 184 -- Jason McCroskey (C) dec. John Dommert, 7-1; 197 -- Niko Brown (C) dec. Ronnie Ellsworth, 7-2; 285 -- Josh Wine (VMI) dec. Matt Lettner, 3-0.
Records: UTC 119, 5-0; VMI 4-10, 1-4.
Johnson also had fun, building a 12-1 lead with back-to-back three-point near falls in the second period. He earned his 18-3 technical fall with 15 seconds left in the third period with his fifth takedown.
Waddell, who has pretty much assumed the team leadership mantle, picked up his first technical fall and second bonus-point win of the season with his victory over VMI's Tedd Gottwald.
"Dan is one of our most consistent wrestlers. You know what you're going to get every time he goes on the mat, and that's everything he's got," Eslinger said. "He's focused. He has put in a lot of work. When you work like that you don't want to see it wasted, and he's just beginning to taste that now."
Waddell, a junior from Baylor, rolled up 2:47 in riding time in the first period. He went up 4-1 on a pair of takedowns and boosted the lead at the end of the first period to 9-1 but was relentless in pursuing points and got his tech with a three-point near fall.
"I have had some good practices the last couple of weeks, and it actually feels like I have made improvements," he said. "There are a lot of times when you're training and you don't get that feeling."
The Mocs' other bonus point came from 149-pounder Dean Pavlou, who is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.
"He's still taking baby steps but it's progress," Eslinger said.
"Most Division I wrestlers are comparable physically. It's the mental part of it that separates the wrestlers. I have been working on the mental [confidence] part of lately," Pavlou said following his 18-6 decision of Ryan Goodsell.
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 ...