published Friday, October 25th, 2013

Chattanooga Mocs picked to repeat as wrestling champs

The SoCon preseason wrestling team

125–Dominic Parisi, Appalachian; 133–Nick Soto, UTC; 141–Ryan Mosley, Gardner-Webb; 149–Dylan Cottrell, Appalachian; 157–Matt Frisch, Citadel; 165–Zack Strickland, Appalachian; 174–Turtogtokh Luvsandorj, Citadel; 184–Scott Patrick, Davidson; 197–Paul Weiss, Appalachian; 285–Kevin Malone, UTC.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has been voted by Southern Conference wrestling coaches as the team to beat in the 2013-14 season.

The defending champion Mocs received four first-place votes and had two wrestlers — 133-pound Nick Soto and heavyweight Kevin Malone — named to the preseason all-conference team.

Appalachian State received a pair of first-place votes and finished second in the poll, followed by The Citadel, Gardner-Webb, Campbell, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Davidson and VMI. The Citadel got the other two first-place votes.

Soto won a conference title last year, and Malone was a runner-up.

While he’s eager for the season to start, UTC coach Heath Eslinger brushed aside the vote, saying his team had earned nothing and would have to prove itself in competition.

“I’m not a big fan of preseason polls, because there’s a lot of time between now and when those things work themselves out,” he said. “Our conference continues to get better, and there are a lot of really good kids across the conference. We have to work each day to get better, and if we do that I think we’ll be in a good spot when we near season’s end.”

UTC has won nine of the last 10 regular-season and tournament championships but is replacing Niko Brown (197), Robert Prigmore (184), Josh Condon (165) and Dean Pavlou (141).

“In a couple of those spots we have some pretty good guys,” Eslinger said. “I’m excited about our newcomers. We have some guys that are ready to make some noise early and are ready to do so.”

Levi Clemons (174/184) and Shawn Greevy (141) are back after a redshirt year. Former McCallie wrestler Michael Hooker is likely at 149, and former NCAA qualifier Corey Mock, who transferred from North Carolina, is being counted on at 165. Redshirt freshman Jared Johnson is the probable 197-pounder. Greevy is one of three contenders at 141, joining Austin Sams and Austin Woods.

“We have three really tough guys at 141 that are going to make us special at that weight heading into the postseason,” Eslinger said.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.com

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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