Brown Earns At-Large Bid to NCAA Championships
Sophomore Niko Brown
Courtesy: GoMocs.com
The roster for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's trip to the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships was finalized today with the announcement of the at-large bids.  Sophomore Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) was chosen to represent UTC at 197 pounds, giving the Mocs six qualifiers for the national meet. 

Brown posted a 19-9 overall record and was runner-up at the 2011 Southern Conference Championships last weekend.  He has won six of his last eight matches and three of his nine losses came against ranked opponents. 

"This is great for Niko," added 2011 SoCon Coach of the Year Heath Eslinger.  "He had beaten the guy he lost to in the SoCon finals earlier in the year.  He had a great record and he has earned this opportunity.  It was nice to see the system work for him."

The at-large selections were made by the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee using the following selection criteria without priority order: head-to-head competition, qualifying event placement, quality wins, results against common opponents, winning percentage, rating percentage index, coaches ranking and number of matches contested at that weight class.  A total of 50 at-large bids were handed out today and they will join the 280 automatic qualifiers who earned their spots through conference and regional qualifying tournaments.

The Mocs had four individual SoCon Champions who grabbed automatic bids last weekend, including senior Cody Cleveland (141), juniors Demetrius Johnson (133) and Brandon Wright (174) and sophomore Josh Condon (157).  The SoCon was given two automatic bids at 184, and junior Jason McCroskey took one with his runner-up finish at the conference meet. 

"We have six guys who are going to the NCAAs that can bring back some hardware," added Eslinger.  "If your name is in the bracket, then it is a good draw and we have six who are capable of winning a lot of matches."

The Mocs are coming off an 11-9 campaign that includes a perfect 5-0 mark in SoCon matches.  UTC has won seven consecutive SoCon regular season titles and owns a 35-match winning streak in league action.  Chattanooga won its sixth SoCon Tournament in the last seven years and its 27th in the 34 years as a member of the conference.

The NCAA Championships are set for March 17-19 at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, Pa.  Selected matches will broadcast on ESPN3.com and ESPNU throughout the event.

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