Lettermen Impress at the Blue-Gold Match
Junior Dan Waddell and sophomore Josh Condon in action tonight.
Courtesy: GoMocs.com
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team answered a lot of questions concerning their lineup for the first part of the 2010-11 season at the annual Blue-Gold Match tonight.  A crowd nearing 200 made their way to Maclellan Gym to watch the Mocs' veterans secure their spots and a few newcomers open some eyes. 

One thing is for sure, senior Cody Cleveland (Tullahoma, Tenn.) looks well on his way to returning to his All-American form after missing most of last season with an injury.  He dispensed of freshman Shawn Greevy (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) with a 15-0 technical fall early in the second period of their 141-pound matchup, showing off the No. 7 national ranking he received from Intermat earlier in the day. 

Greevy had advanced to face Cleveland with a tech fall of his own over fellow freshman Trevor Herron (Cleveland, Tenn.) earlier in the evening. 

Head coach Heath Eslinger decided to not put out team benches for the event and not pit a Blue team against a Gold squad.  That made the night a true wrestle-off for starting spots to kickoff the 2010-11 season. 

Juniors Jason McCroskey (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) and Brandon Wright (Germantown, Tenn.) were two other lettermen who established their dominance on the team tonight.  Wright, a 2010 All-SoCon selection, pinned freshman Landon Vannata (New Port Richey, Fla.) in the 165 match.  He had a big lead going into the third period and ended the match early in the final frame. 

McCroskey, a two-time NCAA Qualifier, scored a pin over freshman John Salada (Cookeville, Tenn.) before the first horn, ending the match at the 2:10 mark.  McCroskey is also ranked in the preseason, checking in a No. 19 in the Intermat Top-20 at 184 pounds. 

Sophomore Alex Hudson (Marietta, Ga.) was also very impressive at 149.  He pinned freshman Jared Presley (Harrison, Ohio) just before the buzzer in the first period.  Sophomore Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.), a 2010 All-SoCon performer, kept his spot at 197 with a 6-3 decision over fellow sophomore Robert Prigmore (Southlake, Texas).  Freshman Cody Hood (Harrison, Tenn.) defeated Greg Shepherd (Dickson, Tenn.) 7-1 at 133.  Look for junior Demetrius Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.) to challenge Hood in this class when he returns from offseason surgery. 

One of the more anticipated matches of the evening pitted heavyweight senior Matt Lettner (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) against freshman Kevin Malone (Carrollton, Ohio).  The massive Malone held his own with the experienced Lettner, ending regulation in a 1-1 tie.  In the end, the more savvy Lettner scored an escape in the third overtime to post a 2-1 decision. 

If that wasn't the most anticipated match of the night, the showdown at 157 between junior Dan Waddell and sophomore Josh Condon certainly took top billing.  Waddell was a 2009 SoCon Champion but sat out all of last year with an injury.  Condon was on the SoCon All-Freshman team last season and a former prep national champion. 

Condon got on the board first with a takedown, but Waddell quickly answered with an escape and a takedown of his own.   Trailing 3-2 going into the second period, Condon scored a reverse to go up by one.  Waddell even the match before the end of the period with another escape.  Waddell chose down in the third frame and went up 5-4 with a quick escape.  Condon took the lead back with a takedown, only to see the match knotted at the end of regulation with another escape by Waddell.  It would take six overtime periods with neither wrestler scoring before Condon slipped out of the grasp of Waddell for the 7-6 win.    

Sophomore Prescott Garner (West Linn, Ore.) was by far the most impressive newcomer.  He almost scored a first-period technical fall in his 125-pound match against freshman Joe DeAngelo (Mebane, N.C.).  He ended the match with a tech fall early in the second frame. 

DeAngelo advanced to face Garner with his 8-4 decision over fellow freshman Adam Wilson (Atlanta, Ga.) in the first match of the evening.  Freshman Levi Clemons was also dominant with a tech fall at 5:15 in his 174 match with fellow freshman Dalton Temple.

"It was a good night," stated Eslinger.  "It was good to see our guys grow up emotionally and mentally.  It is a tough night.  It is tough on the student-athletes, it is tough on the parents and it is tough on the coaches.  I really feel like we responded well.  We have room to grow and we are all in that mode.  It is about six months away when it really counts and that is what we are all thinking."

The Mocs will now turn their attention to the season opening weekend on Nov. 6-7.  UTC travels to Salem, Va., where they open the year against No. 14 Kent State on Saturday, Nov. 6.   Chattanooga will then take part in the Hokie Open on Sunday, Nov. 7. 

Blue-Gold Results
125:  Joe DeAngelo - Dec. 8-4 - Adam Wilson
141:  Shawn Greevy (Gold) - Tech Fall (15-0) 00:00 - Trevor Herron
157:  Josh Condon - Dec. 7-6 (6OT) - Dan Waddell
133:  Cody Hood - Dec. 7-1 - Greg Shepherd
165:  Brandon Wright - Fall 5:25 - Landon Vannata
174:  Levi Clemons - Tech. Fall (15-0) 5:15 - Dalton Temple
184:  Jason McCroskey - Fall 2:10 - John Salada
197:  Niko Brown - Dec. 6-3 - Robert Prigmore
285:  Matt Lettner - Dec. 2-1 - Kevin Malone
125:  Prescott Garner - Tech Fall (15-0) 3:33 - Joe DeAngelo
141:  Cody Cleveland - Tech Fall (15-0) 4:38 - Shawn Greevy
149:  Alex Hudson - Fall 2:59 - Jared Presley

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