UTC 23, THE CITADEL 20
(Meet started at 125 pounds)
125 -- Nick Soto (UTC) major dec. Joaquin Marquez, 11-3; 133 -- Aaron Hansen (Cit) major dec. Marvin Lopez, 8-0; 141 -- Ugi Khishignyam (Cit) dec. Dean Pavlou, 8-1; 149 -- Alex Hudson (UTC) dec. Jordan Dix, 9-3; 157 -- Matt Frisch (Cit) major dec. Trey Stavrum, 10-1; 165 -- Josh Condon (UTC) pinned Vincent Bellaran, 5:52; 174 -- John Lampe (UTC) dec. Jack Duane, 3-2; 184 -- Josh Tuck (Cit) dec. Robert Prigmore, 10-3; 197 -- Niko Brown (UTC) pinned Marshall Haas, 5:44; 285 -- Odie Delaney (Cit) pinned Kevin Malone, 3:54.
Records: UTC 5-6, 1-0; The Citadel 3-5, 2-2.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga vaulted to the top of the Southern Conference wrestling standings, using The Citadel as a stepping stone in its first league match of the year.
"We left some [wins] on the table," coach Heath Eslinger said after his Mocs' 23-20 win over the Bulldogs. "We looked good in some places and not so good in others. In order to win you have to have 10 guys firing on all cylinders. Fortunately for us they didn't fire on all cylinders at a couple of weights either."
The Mocs rallied and then pushed far enough ahead that they were able to offset a pin by Citadel's Odie Delaney, the nation's 14th-ranked heavyweight.
It was actually two pins that allowed the Mocs to put the match out of reach before Delaney's bout. Josh Condon (165) pinned Vincent Bellaran in 5:52, and Niko Brown (197) got the best of Marshall Haas in 5:44.
"Two seniors; it's got to happen. They knew what we needed and delivered," Eslinger said.
Condon's pin was his first of the season.
"I knew we needed it. A pin from me helped the team," Condon said. "I knew Niko was going to beat his guy. He's having a heck of a year."
The pin was the seventh of the year for Brown, who improved to 8-0 in dual meets this year and 21-3 overall.
"They came into our house thinking they had a chance to beat us. I didn't think so," he said. "I was thinking bonus points, thinking about doing my part."
Brown has become the team's unofficial leader on the mat with the type performances that have had him listed among the nation's top 20 at times this season.
"Niko is becoming what you want athletes to become. He's doing everything right and he's in a frame of mind that it doesn't matter if the other guy is doing everything right because Niko's going to inflect his will on his opponents," Eslinger said.
The Mocs needed the pins for the win because the team's split the 10 matches.
"We have our work cut out for us," Eslinger said. "We have to get better. We have a couple of weight classes where the job's open and we're hiring.
While he didn't mention specific weight classes, it's likely he was looking for someone to step up at 133, where Marvin Lopez failed to score a point in a major decision setback to the Bulldogs' Aaron Hansen, and at 174, the spot vacated by the Jake Young.
"Jake's through. It's a tough situation and it stinks for our team, but this was a decision I made," Eslinger said. "This was going to be his last year. He graduates in the summer. I hate it for Jake. He's a good kid, but we have to pick it up and move on."
Stepping in Sunday -- and coming away with a pivotal win -- was freshman John Lampe, who was the Mocs' pre-Christmas starting 165-pounder.
"We'll have some competition there. John weighed in at 165 and we threw him out there at 174," Eslinger said. "Sean Mappes is another guy who had some success early but then missed some time with a staph infection in his knee. We'll have competition there."
The Mocs also got a big win from 149-pounder Alex Hudson, but even Hudson gave up a takedown in the last five seconds and squandered away a major decision and an extra team point. The other UTC victory was a bonus-point win from Nick Soto (125) that staked the Mocs to an early 4-0 lead.
UTC wrestles at Gardner-Webb on Friday and at Appalachian State on Sunday.
The won't be back home until Feb. 10 when they'll wrestle Davidson.
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 ...