The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team won its 28th Southern Conference Tournament in Buies Creek, N.C., tonight. The Mocs had three individual champions led by junior Corey Mock’s victory at 165 pounds. Mock not only grabbed an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, but he also took home the award for Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
Chattanooga tallied 88.0 points on the day, the fewest for a championship team since UNCG won with 81.5 points in 2010. It was the Mocs fourth straight tournament title and eighth in the last nine years.
The Citadel took the runner-up spot with 78.5 points. Campbell, which hosted the tournament, placed third with 54.0 points. Appalachian State finished fourth with 36.0 points, in front of Gardner-Webb (32.5), SIUE (30.5), Davidson (29.0) and VMI (13.5).
Junior Nick Soto took home his third-straight conference championship and will make his third appearance at the NCAAs. The No. 1 seed at 133 pinned VMI’s Michael Flora in 2:54 to advance to the semifinals, where Davidson’s Anthony Elias medically forfeited. In the final, Soto handily defeated Campbell’s Drew Walker, 12-2, to up his overall record to 33-9.
The match of the night came at 165 between Mock and The Citadel’s Turtogtokh Luvsandorj. Luvsandorj carried a No. 7 Coaches Panel ranking into the match, while Mock was right behind him at No. 8. Luvsandorj took the regular season meeting 4-3, but Mock dominated tonight’s rematch. He won the title bout 7-1 and did not give up a takedown in the tournament, improving to 30-3 overall.
Junior Levi Clemons followed that with a win of his own at 174, registering two major decisions along the way. He took down VMI’s Derek Thurman, 13-5, before defeating Campbell’s Cody Ryba, 11-2 in the semifinals. Clemons met the second seed, Jake Residori from SIUE, in the championship bout, but Residori had to medically forfeit with Clemons up 2-0 in the first period.
Clemons improves to 26-13 overall and earns his second trip to the NCAA Championships. He also was an at-large participant as a sophomore in 2012.
Senior Alex Hudson also grabbed an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, despite falling in the finals to The Citadel’s Aaron Walker. The Southern Conference was allocated 16 spots for the NCAA Championships, with three each at 149 pounds and 165 pounds, two each at 157 pounds and heavyweight and one each at the six other weights.
UTC had a pair of true freshman finish second in their brackets. Michael Pongracz was runner-up at 141 while top-seeded Scottie Boykin lost in the finals at 197. Fellow freshman Dawson Peck placed fourth at heavyweight, along with sophomores John Lampe at 184 and Austin Sams at 149.
UTC now turns its attention to the NCAA Championships on March 20-22. The Mocs could grab an at large bid at one or two more weights before competition begins in Oklahoma City, Okla.