The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team captured its sixth consecutive Southern Conference regular season title with a 31-9 win at VMI tonight. The Mocs improve to 11-7 overall and 5-0 in league action. It is the 30th straight win in SoCon action for Chattanooga.
"Anytime you can win a conference title, it is great for the program, the university and the community," stated first-year head coach Heath Eslinger. "We have a lot of areas we need to improve on before the conference tournament in two weeks, but I am excited for our guys and what they accomplished this season."
Sophomore Demetrius Johnson opened the match with a 9-6 decision over John Pope. Johnson improves to 5-0 in conference action and 18-8 overall. Senior Josh Statum also improved to 5-0 in SoCon matches with his 14-4 major decision over Luke Todd. It was his first bonus points in a dual match since posting a major decision against The Citadel on Nov. 17.
David Yost pulled the Keydets to 7-3 with a 9-5 decision against Chattanooga sophomore Ben Johnson at 141. Moc freshman Dean Pavlou answered with a 7-4 win against Michael Long at 149. Fellow freshman Josh Condon followed that up with a 9-4 win over Joe Munno at 157. Condon also went undefeated in SoCon action with a 3-0 record this season.
Sophomore Brandon Wright, currently ranked No. 19 in the nation at 165, also improved to 5-0 in the SoCon tonight. He posted a 10-4 win over Connor Black to run his season record to 18-5 overall.
Freshman Jake Young snapped a two-match skid with a 15-9 decision against Evan Dill. It was his highest offensive output since scoring 20 points in a technical fall against Davidson's Jorge Estrada on Nov. 18.
The Mocs led 19-3 after seven matches and were ready to put things away in the 184 contest. Sophomore Jason McCroskey was up 12-3 against Vinnie Gallo, but was pinned at the 4:44 mark. That allowed VMI to close the gap to 19-9 with two matches left. However, the Keydets did not make a final push, forfeiting the last two contests to give UTC the 31-9 win.
Chattanooga will now prepare for the Southern Conference Championships on Saturday, March 6. The one-day tournament will be held at Davidson in two weeks.
Chattanooga 31 - VMI 9
125: Demetrius Johnson (UTC) - Dec. 9-6 - John Pope (VMI) - UTC 3-0
133: Josh Statum (UTC) - MD 14-4 - Luke Todd (VMI) - UTC 7-0
141: David Yost (VMI) - Dec. 9-5 - Ben Johnson (UTC) - UTC 7-3
149: Dean Pavlou (UTC) - Dec. 7-4 - Michael Long (VMI) - UTC 10-3
157: Josh Condon (UTC) - Dec. 9-4 - Joe Munno (VMI) - UTC 13-3
165: Brandon Wright (UTC) - Dec. 10-4 - Connor Black - UTC 16-3
174: Jake Young (UTC) - Dec. 15-9 - Evan Dill (VMI) - UTC 19-3
184: Vinnie Gallo (VMI) - Fall 4:44 - Jason McCroskey (UTC) - UTC 19-9
197: Niko Brown (UTC) - Forfeit - UTC 25-9
285: Tom Minwell (UTC) - Forfeit - UTC 31-9