John Shrader and D.J. Franklin-Smith compete at 184 pounds in the Blue & Gold Match today.
Courtesy: Dale Rutemeyer
Mocs Welcome Big Crowd to Blue & Gold Match

The Chattanooga Mocs had another big crowd come out for the annual Blue & Gold Match in the First Tennessee Pavilion today.  A lively bunch of tailgaters saw a more experienced Gold squad outlast the Blue team 21-14 in exhibition action. 

Despite putting seven freshmen on the mat, the Blue squad was in the match until the final horn.  Freshman Michael Pongracz (Milford, N.J.) lost to sophomore Austin Sams (Fairfield, Ohio) 8-6 in overtime at 141 in the last bout.  Pongracz also competed at 133, which is why the 141 bout was moved to the end. 

Gold opened with three straight wins, including decisions by freshman Byron Smith (Memphis, Tenn.) and junior Nick Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) at 125 and 133.  Soto has won two-straight Southern Conference Championships, 125 last season and 133 as a freshman in 2012.  He will be back at 133 this season.

Byron Smith at 125 lbs. looked really good and Mike Pongracz lost two matches but wrestled really well,” stated head coach Heath Eslinger. “He wrestled two really good guys to (close)matches. I was impressed with those two guys. We still have work to do, but I am excited for the direction we are headed.”

Freshman Michael Hooker (Maryville, Tenn.) gave the Gold a 12-0 lead with a pin (4:30) at 149 over freshman Kevin Cooper (Morning View, Ky.). 

The Blue team won the next three, beginning with a 10-1 major decision by senior Alex Hudson (Marietta, Ga.) over junior Jared Presley (Harrison, Ohio) at 157.  Hudson won the SoCon title at 149 last season, but will move up a weight for his senior campaign. 

Junior Corey Mock (Chapel Hill, N.C.), a transfer from North Carolina, made his UTC debut with a 13-0 major decision over junior Trey Stavrum (Chattanooga, Tenn.).  Sophomore Sean Mappes (Greenwood, Ind.) closed the team gap to just a point, 12-11, with an 11-4 decision over freshman Barrett Walthall (Memphis, Tenn.). 

Sophomore John Shrader (Franklin, Tenn.) widened the Gold lead to 15-11 with an 8-2 decision over freshman D.J. Franklin-Smith (Glen Burnie, Md.) at 184.  Freshman Jared Johnson (Jefferson City, Mo.) brought the Gold back to within a point at 15-14 with his 8-1 decision over sophomore Clay Dent (Piedmont, Ala.) at 197. 

Junior Kevin Malone (Carrollton, Ohio) made it 18-14 with his 5-3 decision over freshman Scottie Boykin (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) at heavyweight. 

“I think this event brings some good energy,” added Eslinger after the match. "Obviously, it’s neat having it outdoors at the First Tennessee Pavilion before the football game. We kind of know where our guys are at, and maybe we saw some weakness we have right now. I think, more importantly, it gave us a chance to compete in front of our fans.”

UTC opens the regular season in two weeks with a big night of wrestling at Maclellan Gym on Friday, Nov. 8.  The Mocs host Cumberland at 5:00 p.m. (E.S.T.), followed by No. 8 Wisconsin at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com or at the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).    

Gold 21 – Blue 14
125:  Byron Smith (Gold) – Dec. 11-4 - Zach Bridson (Blue) – Gold 3-0

133:  Nick Soto (Gold) – Dec. 5-3 – Michael Pongracz (Blue) – Gold 6-0
149:  Michael Hooker (Gold) – Fall 4:30 – Kevin Cooper (Blue) – Gold 12-0
157:  Alex Hudson (Blue) – MD 10-1 – Jared Presley (Gold) – Gold 12-4
165:  Corey Mock (Blue) – MD 13-0 – Trey Stavrum (Gold) – Gold 12-8
174:  Sean Mappes (Blue) – Dec. 11-4 - Barrett Walthall (Gold) – Gold 12-11
184:  John Shrader (Gold) – Dec. 8-2 - D.J. Franklin-Smith (Blue) – Gold 15-11
197:  Jared Johnson (Blue) – Dec. 8-1 - Clay Dent (Gold) – Gold 15-14
285:  Kevin Malone (Gold) – Dec. 5-3 – Scottie Boykins (Blue) – Gold 18-14
141:  Austin Sams (Gold) – Dec. 8-6 (OT) - Michael Pongracz (Blue) – Gold 21-14

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