The preseason all-conference picks were pushed to the limit and freshmen and sophomores made their presence felt Saturday in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Blue/Gold intrasquad wrestling match.
Competing in rather breezy conditions at the First Tennessee Pavilion, 133-pound Nick Soto edged freshman Michael Pongracz 5-3 and heavyweight Kevin Malone won by the same score over freshman Scottie Boykins. Soto and Malone were named to the Southern Conference preseason team that was announced Thursday.
Pongrancz wrestled twice. In the day's final match, he fell 8-6 in overtime to Austin Sams.
"He lost two matches but wrestled really well, taking two really good guys to the wire in both of them," coach Heath Eslinger said.
The coach also applauded the effort of 125-pound Byron Smith.
"I'm impressed with those two guys. We still have work to do, but I'm excited about the direction we're headed," Eslinger said.
He and fans had to be excited too about freshman Michael Hooker and junior transfer Corey Mock. Hooker (149) pinned freshman Kevin Cooper, and Mock got a major decision over Trey Stavrum.
Alex Hudson (157), the only senior listed on the Mocs' 2013-14 roster, got the only other bonus points of the day with a major decision in the Gold's 21-14 victory over the Blue squad.
The Mocs open the season on Friday, Nov. 8. They'll host Cumberland at 5 p.m. and eighth-ranked Wisconsin at 6:30 at Maclellan Gym.
UTC GOLD 21, BLUE 14
125--Byron Smith (G) dec. Ach Bridson, 11-4; 133--Nick Soto dec. Michael Pongracz, 5-3; 141--Austin Sams (G) dec. Pongracz, 8-6 OT; 149--Michael Hooker (G) pinned Kevin Cooper, 4:30; 157--Alex Hudson (B) major dec. Jared Presley, 10-1; 165--Corey Mock (B) major dec. Trey Stavrum, 13-0; 174--Sean Mappes (B) dec. Barrett Walthall, 11-4; 184--John Shrader (G) dec. D.J. Franklin-Smith, 8-2; 197--Jared Johnson (B) dec. Clay Dent, 8-1; 285--Kevin Malone (G) dec. Scottie Boykins, 5-3.
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 ...