published Friday, January 10th, 2014

Chattanooga Mocs debut heavyweight Peck

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team will introduce the newest Moc this morning against Arizona State.

Austin Peck, a transfer from Virginia Tech, will step in at 285 pounds for UTC's opening meet in the Virginia Duals.

Peck and his father visited UTC during the Southern Scuffle, and the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder settled on the Mocs over Cornell.

"It's been a busy week, getting him eligible and getting all his paperwork done," Mocs assistant Jon Sioredas said. "He did manage to get in a couple of practices."

A freshman, Peck will step in for Kevin Malone, who was injured in UTC's pre-Christmas meet at Stanford. Malone, a junior, suffered a torn ACL and MCL plus a meniscus tear.

The Mocs (6-4) took 15 wrestlers to Hampton, Va., including 125-pounders Campbell Lewis and Byron Smith. The starting lineup will include Nick Soto (133), Michael Pongracz (141), Shawn Greevy (149), Alex Hudson (157), Corey Mock (165), Levi Clemons (174), John Lampe (184) and Scottie Boykin (197). Also making the trip were Austin Sams (149), Michael Hooker (157), Trey Stavrum (165) and Clay Dent (184).

If the Mocs beat Arizona State, they'll wrestle host Virginia, which had a first-round bye.

Mock is ranked No. 4 and Soto -- the Southern Conference wrestler of the month for December and the latest wrestler of the week -- No. 11 in the latest Amateur Wrestling News poll. InterMat also has Soto No. 11 with Mock No. 6.

Hurricanes in AAA

About the time the TSSAA was finishing its classification survey, Hamilton County began resetting its school zones. While numbers available to the TSSAA placed East Hamilton in Class AAA (and Class 5A for football), rezoning numbers dropped the Hurricanes below the TSSAA cutoff for 5A football teams.

East Hamilton, in other words, is a victim of circumstance and is competing in wrestling in Region 3-AAA with the likes of Cleveland, Bradley Central, Ooltewah, Soddy-Daisy and Walker Valley instead of the old Region 4 that now consists of teams such as Hixson, Notre Dame, East Ridge, Signal Mountain and Red Bank.

"It is what it is -- technically in the large school division without being a large school," Hurricanes coach Ryan Cooper said. "We don't really know anything different because this is the first year for the [traditional state] A/AA tournament. I do think we were moved into the best region in the state, and if we can get out of the region we have a good shot at placing in the state."

The Hurricanes are hosting a pool-type eight-team individual tournament Saturday. Each weight class, where possible, will have two four-wrestler pools with the top two in each pool advancing to the semifinals.

"It's an opportunity to give kids some extra mat time," Cooper said.

Joining East Hamilton are Signal Mountain, Dalton, East Ridge, Silverdale Baptist, Chattanooga Christian and Tyner. Price of admission is $5 and Cooper anticipates starting the championship finals about 2:30 p.m.

Baylor, Cleveland 1-2

Baylor and Cleveland hold the top two spots in the latest Tennessee coaches' poll, while Soddy-Daisy, McCallie and Bradley Central are fifth through seventh. Walker Valley is 11th.

Other schools in the poll are No. 3 Father Ryan, No. 4 Wilson Central, No. 8 Christian Brothers, No. 9 Ravenwood, No. 10 MBA and No. 12 Blackman.

Mustangs host duals

An eight-team dual meet tournament begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Walker Valley. Competitors are the host Mustangs, Maryville, Bearden and Notre Dame in one pool and Halls, Tullahoma, Alcoa and Central in the other.

"According to my sources, Halls is the top team in Knoxville," Walker Valley coach Alan Morris said. "I know Bearden had some good wrestlers in the Bradley tournament and did beat Maryville earlier in the year. Notre Dame and Central will be two of the better A/AA teams."

Morris anticipates the championship meet starting around 3 p.m.

Walker Valley has been led this year by Zach Miller (285), Ric Kennett (195), Lawrence Cotton (160) and Ryan Hager (152).

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

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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