The Chattanooga wrestling team wrapped up the 2013 Southern Conference Regular Season Championship with tonight’s 30-4 win over Campbell at Maclellan Gym. The Mocs controlled the match from the opening whistle, concluding the regular season with an 11-6 record and a perfect 7-0 mark in league action.
“I don’t think it’s the championship that is special, I think it’s the people represented with those championships that are special,” UTC coach Heath Eslinger said. “This is a great group of seniors, and the fact that they got to go out in their last home match and get a win and a SoCon championship is important to us. They embody what Chattanooga Strong is all about and I’m excited for them.”
Chattanooga’s Niko Brown started things off for the Mocs, and was pushed by Campbell’s John Merickel in his match at 197, but the senior pulled out a 7-3 win. Brown, who entered the bout ranked as high as No. 18 in the nation, improved his overall record to 27-3, 14-0 in dual matches and 7-0 in league matches.
Sophomore Kevin Malone followed that with a double-overtime victory against Joe Nolan at heavyweight. Malone scored a takedown in the second sudden-victory period for his 16th win of the season.
“What I like about tonight is that it was dominating,” Eslinger said. “We won the close matches and we dominated the matches we were ahead. That’s the momentum that we needed going into the SoCon and the national tournaments.”
Sophomore Nick Soto faced a tough challenge against Campbell’s Eric Montoya, both entering the match undefeated in SoCon action. Soto, ranked No. 17 in the nation, posted an impressive 7-1 victory, though, and put UTC ahead 9-0.
Freshman Alex Ward posted a 5-0 win over Tanner Bidelspach at 133, and senior Dean Pavlou put the Mocs head 16-0 with his major decision win over Michael Dahlstrom. For Pavlou, it was his career-best 22nd win of the season.
Junior Alex Hudson scored a tech fall at 149 before Campbell got its only win of the evening at 157. Senior Josh Condon clinched the match with his 12-7 decision over Paul Duggan at 165. Condon improved to 6-0 in SoCon matches this season, finishing his career with a 14-0 record in SoCon regular season matches.
Freshman John Lampe got the crowd on its feet with a 3-1 decision over Taylor McGiffen, scoring a takedown at the buzzer to improve to 5-0 in SoCon matches this season.
Senior Robert Prigmore closed out the match with a comeback win at 184. After falling behind early to Campbell’s James Cook, Prigmore wore Cook down over the next five minutes, scoring five unanswered to take the win.
“Dean Pavlou is what Chattanooga wrestling is all about,” added Eslinger. “If I could make robots of him then we would be doing great. Josh Condon, again, he ends up dominating the guy and does a good job. He is undefeated in conference career as a student-athlete during the regular season and that’s a big deal. Robert Prigmore did a nice job of fighting back in the match after he was down. He just wanted to go out on top and he got the win. Finally, Niko Brown just kept doing what he always does and got us a win. I’m very proud of those guys.”
The Mocs now begin preparation for the 2013 Southern Conference Tournament, slated for Saturday, March 9 at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.