At 4-0, Chattanooga has a half-game lead on ASU (3-0) in the SoCon standings. The Mocs are 11-3 overall and have won eight-straight matches, their longest winning streak since the 2007 season.
Sunday will also be Senior Day for UTC's five seniors. This will be the final home dual match for Demetrius Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.), Kelly Felix (Franklin, Tenn.), Manny Ramirez (Fayetteville, N.C.), Dan Waddell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Brandon Wright.
The Mountaineers bring a 9-3 overall mark under third-year head coach JohnMark Bentley and are serious contenders to end Chattanooga's seven-year run as SoCon regular season champions. Appalachian State was picked second in the preseason SoCon Coaches Poll, one point behind the Mocs. ASU finished eighth at the 2012 Southern Scuffle with 63.5 team points, one spot behind UTC (79.5).
The Mountaineers are literally bringing a bus-load of fans with them this weekend. The team organized a fan bus for the trip from Boone, N.C., that sold out earlier in the week.
UTC has not lost a league contest since falling to The Citadel on Feb. 14, 2004, in Charleston, S.C. Chattanooga has also not lost a home SoCon match since VMI on Feb. 2, 2003, a string of 21-straight wins.
The Mocs are 25-12-1 all-time against Appalachian State, including a current nine-match undefeated streak. The last time UTC lost to the Mountaineers was a 36-6 defeat in Boone on Jan. 19, 2003. The Mocs have won six in a row at home in the series with the last loss a 22-13 setback on Jan. 24, 1998.
Live scoring and MocsVision video will be available for this weekend's action. Links can be found on the wrestling schedule page on GoMocs.com. Tickets to the event are $5 and also available on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
CHATTANOOGA PROBABLE LINEUP:
125: Manny Ramirez (Sr. - 1-0)
133: No. 14 Nick Soto (Fr. - 20-4)
141: Shawn Greevy (So. - 13-8)
149: Kelly Felix (Sr. - 12-8)/Dean Pavlou (Jr. - 12-7)
157: Dan Waddell (Sr. - 17-7)
165: Brandon Wright (Sr. - 16-7)
174: Levi Clemons (So. - 16-11)
184: Robert Prigmore (Jr. - 18-8)
197: Niko Brown (Jr. - 16-6)/Cory Canada (Fr. - 0-1)
285: Kevin Malone (Fr. - 21-10)
DEMETRIUS JOHNSON - SR. - 3L - MEMPHIS, TENN.
Senior Demetrius Johnson is a two-time Southern Conference Champion, two-time NCAA participant and a two-time Academic All-NWCA honoree. He won his first SoCon title at 125 as a freshman in 2009, also earning SoCon All-Freshman honors.
Johnson was an All-SoCon pick as a sophomore in 2010, finishing with a 5-0 mark in league action and a 20-8 overall record.
He moved up to 133 as a junior where he won his second league title. After missing most of the season with a knee injury, he returned to the mat late in the season to sweep through the league and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
He was poised for a strong senior year and picked as a preseason All-SoCon selection. Unfortunately, that same knee injury resurfaced and ended his career too soon. Regardless, Johnson is one of the top student-athletes at UTC and the Criminal Justice major has been on the Dean's List throughout his career.
KELLY FELIX - SR. - 3L - FRANKLIN, TENN.
Senior Kelly Felix is a prime example of how hard work and perseverance pays off. After competing in just 16 matches in his first three seasons at Chattanooga, he worked his way into the starting lineup as a senior.
Felix has a 12-8 overall record at 149, including 3-1 in Southern Conference action. His hard work has also extended to the classroom where the Criminal Justice major has earned a spot on the Athletics Director's Honor Roll in each of the last two semesters.
MANNY RAMIREZ - SR. - TR - FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.
Manny Ramirez will have the unique distinction of his first home match at UTC also being his last. A three-year letterman and 2011 SoCon champion at UNC Greensboro, he transferred to UTC after the Spartans cut their program. He just got cleared to compete prior to last week's match at The Citadel. His overtime win at 125 was pivotal in Chattanooga's 27-13 victory against the Bulldogs.
Ramirez has less than two months to make his mark on the UTC record books, but will be one of the favorites at the 2012 SoCon Championships in McKenzie Arena on March 3.
DAN WADDELL - SR. - 3L - CHATTANOOGA, TENN.
Dan Waddell is another former SoCon Champion wrapping up his UTC career this season. He won the 149 league title as a freshman in 2009 and is the preseason pick at 157 this season. He was also on the All-SoCon team and the SoCon All-Freshman squad in 2009.
Waddell sat out the 2010 campaign with a shoulder injury and went 16-12 last year. However, he is having a tremendous senior campaign and is 17-7 overall and 4-0 in SoCon matches. He finished fourth at the prestigious Southern Scuffle and is riding a six-match winning streak.
Majoring in Business, Waddell has been equally impressive in the classroom. He has made either the Athletics Director's Honor Roll or the Dean's List in each of the last five semesters.
BRANDON WRIGHT - SR. - 3L - GERMANTOWN, TENN.
Brandon Wright is another SoCon Champion among the Mocs seniors. He won the 174 title as a junior and competed at the 2011 NCAA Championships. He was also an All-SoCon pick at 165 as a sophomore in 2010.
Wright is back at 165 as a senior and is 16-7 overall and 11-2 in dual matches. He is 4-0 in SoCon action and has a career 15-1 record in conference matches. His last loss to a league opponent came in 2009 during his freshman year.
At 52-31, Wright has the most career wins on the team and is looking to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
In the classroom, Wright is a two-time Academic All-NWCA team member. He is a Business major and a two-time Academic All-SoCon honoree.
MOCS ARE RECEIVING VOTES IN THE NWCA TOP-25
The Mocs are the only team listed as receiving votes in this week's NWCA/USA Today Division I Coaches Top-25. Chattanooga's eight-match winning steak has it on the verge of being ranked for the first time since the end of the 2007-08 season. UTC finished that regular season No. 18 in the nation. For a complete list of the rankings, check out page 4 of the .pdf of the Mocs wrestling match notes.
FOUR MOCS IN THE TOP-33 OF THE COACHES RANKINGS
The NCAA released the first of three coaches' panel rankings for the 2011-12 wrestling season on Jan. 20 and four Mocs were listed. Nick Soto (No. 14 at 133), Dan Waddell (No. 28 at 157), Brandon Wright (No. 31 at 165) and Niko Brown (No. 30 at 197) were all included. The final rankings will be one of the tools used as part of the selection process to determine the qualifiers for the 2012 Division I Wrestling Championships.
ESLINGER MOVING UP THE ALL-TIME WINS LIST
Head coach Heath Eslinger is currently tied for sixth with Ralph Manning (1991-95) on the Mocs all-time coaching victories list. Eslinger is 33-19 (.634) in his third season at UTC. Manning went 33-26 (.559) in five seasons with the Mocs. Eslinger needs six more wins to catch his predecesor, Chris Bono who went 39-17 in three seasons from 2007-09.
APPALACHIAN STATE PROBABLE LINEUP
125: Tony Gravely (Jr. - 11-8) / Weston Haney (Sr. - 4-4)
133: Brett Boston (Jr. - 14-15) / Chris Johnson (So. - 9-10)
141: Mike Kessler (Sr. - 26-10)
149: Savva Kostis (Sr. - 22-12) / Russ Benner (So. - 9-7)
157: Chip Powell (Sr. - 15-13) / John Blakely (Jr. - 12-11)
165: No. 16 Kyle Blevins (Sr. - 28-5)
174: Carter Downs (Jr. - 10-13) / Jake Johnson (Fr. - 6-9)
184: No. 12 Austin Trotman (Sr. - 26-4) / Jesse Johnson (Fr. - 9-9)
197: Paul Weiss (Fr. - 12-12)
285: Joe Cummings (Fr. - 9-10)
The Mountaineers will field a very tough lineup that includes two ranked wrestlers and two others with 20+ wins on the season. ASU is 3-0 in head-to-head individual competition with the Mocs based on the probable lineups. The Mountaineers have posted win over UTC at 141, 149 and 157 this season.
The long awaited arrival of senior Manny Ramirez took place last week at The Citadel and he did not disappoint. He scored an overtime win that all but sealed the Mocs 27-13 team victory. The transfer from UNC Greensboro and 2011 SoCon Champion is set to make another run at a SoCon Championship.
This match will pit the last two SoCon Champs against each other. ASU's Tony Gravely won the 2010 title and is looking to take back the crown. Ramirez lost to Gravely 14-10 in last year's dual between the Spartans and the Mountaineers.
Freshman Nick Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) has moved up to No. 13 in the most recent InterMat Top-20. It is the fifth week in a row he has been ranked. He is also No. 14 in the NCAA Coaches Rankings released on Jan. 20. He is currently 20-4 overall, having won eight-straight matches and 15 of his last 16.
Soto will be facing ASU junior Brett Boston. Boston is 14-15 overall this season.
Sophomore Shawn Greevy (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) is also on a hot-streak, having won eight in a row. He is looking to add to his 14-8 overall record and is 4-0 on SoCon action.
Greevy will have his hands full with senior Mike Kessler who is 26-10 on the year. Kessler is the preseason pick at 141 in the SoCon. Kessler already has one win over Greevy this season, an 11-6 decision at the Hokie Open on Nov. 6.
Senior Kelly Felix (Franklin, Tenn.) is being challenged for the 149 spot by junior Dean Pavlou (Cleveland, Tenn.) thanks to Pavlou's sixth place finish at the Southern Scuffle. Felix is 12-8 overall, 8-4 in duals, while Pavlou has a 16-6 mark.
Senior Savva Kostis will be in the lineup for ASU. He has a 22-12 overall mark and is a three-year starter. Kostis defeated Felix 6-3 at the Hokie Open on Nov. 6. Felix won the only other meeting 7-5 when they were both freshmen in 2009.
Senior Dan Waddell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) is a preseason All-SoCon selection and is 17-7 overall. He had an impressive fourth place showing at the Scuffle and wins in 11 of his last 13 matches. He is currently No. 28 in the NCAA Coaches rankings.
Waddell will go against senior Chip Powell who is 15-13. Powell was the runner-up at the SoCon Championships in 2010 and already has one win over Waddell this season, winning 5-0 at the Hokie Open on Nov. 6.
Brandon Wright (Germantown, Tenn.) is 16-7, including seven straight wins. He is currently No. 31 in the NCAA Coaches Rankings.
Wright will match up against 16th-ranked senior Kyle Blevins. Blevins won the SoCon title last season at 165, while Wright won it at 174. Blevins was the Most Outstanding Wrestler at last year's conference meet and was the preseason pick at 165 this year. He is 28-5 overall.
Wright won the only previous meeting between the two, a 4-3 decision at 165 in the 2010 season.
Sophomore Levi Clemons (Kissimmee, Fla.) is 16-11 overall. He has wins in seven of his last eight matches. He will be facing junior Carter Downs who has a 10-13 record.
Junior Robert Prigmore (Southlake, Texas) is 18-8 and on an eight-match winning steak. He won all four of his bouts at the Lone Star Duals and has wins in 16 of his last 19 outings. He also won the Davidson Open earlier in the year and has a team-high six pins.
Prigmore will be facing one of the highest ranked individuals in the league in No. 12 Austin Trotman. Trotman is the two-time defending SoCon Champion and is 26-4 overall. The 2011 SoCon Wrestler of the Year is also a three-time NCAA qualifier.
Junior Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) is having an outstanding season at 16-6. He suffered a knee injury at Campbell and did not compete against Davidson or The Citadel. He is No. 30 in the latest NCAA Coaches Rankings and could be back in the lineup this week.
Freshman Paul Weiss is slated to compete for the Mountaineers. He is 12-12 overall.
Freshman Kevin Malone (Carrollton, Ohio) has a fifth-place finish at the Hokie Open and a third place result at the Davidson Open on his resume. He leads the team with a 21-10 record, and is looking to improve on his 8-5 mark in dual matches.
Malone will face freshman Joe Cummings in the heavyweight match. Cummings is 9-10 on the year.
CHATTANOOGA VS. THE TOP-10
The Mocs are no strangers to tough competition, having faced at least one opponent ranked in the top-10 in each of the last 10 seasons. The last time UTC posted a win over a top-10 opponent was Nov. 10, 2007, when they defeated No. 9 Ohio State 19-16 at home.
UPSET OVER NO. 12 STANFORD BIGGEST WIN SINCE...
Chattanooga's 22-15 upset win over No. 12 Stanford on Nov. 20 in Maclellan Gym was the first win over a ranked team since UTC defeated No. 9 Ohio State 19-16 on Nov. 10, 2007 in Chattanooga.
SOCON WRESTLERS OF THE WEEK
UTC has a pair of Mocs who have been named SoCon Wrestlers of the Week this season. Junior Niko Brown took the first honor when he pinned Alen Yen (1:55) to clinch an upset win over No. 12 Stanford on Nov. 20. Freshman Nick Soto grabbed back-to-back honors, the latter after placing second at the Southern Scuffle.
PROGRAM RECORD 17 ON THE AD HONOR ROLL
The UTC wrestling team had 17 members on the Athletics Director's Honor Roll for the 2011 fall semester. The student-athletes recognized for having a 3.0+ semester grade-point-average include Niko Brown, Joseph Burns, Levi Clemons, Cole Hayes, Kelly Felix, Alex Kooser, John Lampe, Dean Pavlou, Jared Presley, Bradley Rogers, Austin Sams, Nick Soto, Blake Thomas, Dan Waddell, Adam Wilson, Brandon Wright and Jake Young.
MOCS PICKED TO WIN SOCON TITLE
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team was selected as the preseason favorite to win the Southern Conference title by the league's coaches. UTC has won eight straight SoCon Championships and 27 overall since joining the league in 1978. Head coach Heath Eslinger's squad, which claimed both the regular season and tournament crowns in 2011, received four of seven first-place votes and 34 points overall, narrowly edging Appalachian State. Chattanooga carries a seven-year, 35-match SoCon duals win streak into the season.
FOUR MOCS NAMED PRESEASON ALL-SOCON
The Mocs placed four wrestlers on the 10-member preseason all-conference squad, including three who were previous SoCon tournament champions. Demetrius Johnson was the coaches' pick at 125 pounds along with Dean Pavlou at 149. The Mocs' Dan Waddell was the representative at 157 pounds while teammate Niko Brown was chosen at 197.
MOCS G.P.A. NO. 7 IN THE NATION
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team ranked No. 7 in the nation in grade-point-average for the 2010-11 academic year according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA). The Mocs had a 3.14 cumulative g.p.a. among its top twelve wrestlers for the 2010-11 academic year. The team g.p.a. is comprised of 12 student athletes, including the 10 wrestlers that were the entries in the NCAA tournament conference qualifier. If teams had less than 10 entries for their respective qualifier, they may fill those spots with wrestlers that competed in at least one varsity dual during the season.