In a match that pitted the top two teams in the league, Appalachian State ended Chattanooga's 39-match SoCon winning streak with a 21-17 dual win in Maclellan Gym today. It came down to the final match, but the Mocs were unable to get the deciding win.
"Good match, great atmosphere, great for the sport of wrestling," stated head coach Heath Eslinger. "Obviously, in the sports world, we measure things by wins and losses, so we are disappointed there. We want to win every match we wrestle. At the end of the day, I thought we had several kids wrestle hard."
The turning point came in the eighth match of the day at 149. Leading 14-12 in the team score, Mocs senior Kelly Felix (Franklin, Tenn.) took on Savva Kostis. The two battled throughout and ended regulation tied 1-1. Kostis scored a takedown in overtime and landed perfectly with Felix on his back to get a 6-point pin.
That put ASU up 18-14 with two matches left. Senior Dan Waddell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) did his best to keep the Mocs alive. He scored a 5-2 win over Chip Powell at 157, closing the lead to 18-17 and igniting the crowd.
The final match pitted Chattanooga senior Brandon Wright (Germantown, Tenn.) against ASU's 16th ranked senior Kyle Blevins. Wright put up his best fight, but could not mount much offense against the ranked opponent. Blevins won the match and team dual with a 6-3 decision.
UTC had plenty of bright spots on the day. The Mocs competed without starting 197-pounder Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) who is still out with a knee injury. Senior Manny Ramirez (Fayetteville, N.C.) had an impressive home debut with a 13-1 major decision at 125. No. 13 Nike Soto continued his run with a 14-3 major at 133.
"Our guys battled hard," added Eslinger. "Give them credit. They took advantage of their opportunities and come away with the win. We still have a lot of the season left and we can still reach all of our goals. Our main focus stays the same and that is to show well on the national level and that is the NCAA Tournament."
The match started at 174 with sophomore Levi Clemons (Kissimmee, Fla.) getting a 7-3 decision. With Brown out, Eslinger shifted his lineup and inserted freshman Cory Canada (Ringgold, Ga.) at 184 to go against No. 12 Austin Trotman. ASU scored six points with a pin to go up 6-3.
The Mountaineers added three more when Paul Weiss posted an 8-3 decision over junior Robert Prigmore (Southlake, Tenxas) at 197. Chattanooga responded with freshman Kevin Malone (Carrollton, Ohio) winning at heavyweight. Back-to-back majors by Ramirez and Soto gave UTC a 14-9 lead, setting up the final run of matches.
With the loss, Chattanooga snaps and eight-match winning streak and falls to 11-4 overall and 4-1 in SoCon matches. ASU improves to 10-3 and 4-1 in the conference. The Mocs travel to Stillwater, Okla. Next weekend for the NWCA National Dual meet.
Prior to the match, Chattanooga fans recognized the Mocs' six seniors. Joe Burns (Morristown, Tenn.), Demetrius Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.), Felix, Ramirez, Waddell and Wright competed in their final home matches today.
Appalachian State 21 - Chattanooga 17
174 - Levi Clemons (UTC) - Dec. 7-3 - Andrew Downs (ASU) - UTC 3-0
184 - No. 12 Austin Trotman (ASU) - Fall 1:34 - Cory Canada (UTC) - ASU 6-3
197 - Paul Weiss (ASU) - Dec. 8-3 - Robert Prigmore (UTC) - ASU 9-3
285 - Kevin Malone (UTC) - Dec. 6-4 - Joe Cummings (ASU) - ASU 9-6
125 - Manuel Ramirez (UTC) - MD 13-1 - Antonio Gravely (ASU) - UTC - 10-9
133 - No. 13 Nick Soto (UTC) - MD 14-3 - Brett Boston (ASU) - UTC 14-9
141 - Mike Kessler (ASU) - Dec. 8-2 - Shawn Greevy (UTC) - UTC 14-12
149 - Savva Kostis (ASU) - Fall (OT) 7:48 - Kelly Felix (UTC) - ASU 18-14
157 - Daniel Waddell (UTC) - Dec. 5-2 - William Powell (ASU) - ASU 18-17
165 - No. 16 Kyle Blevins (ASU) - Dec. 6-3 - Brandon Wright (UTC) - ASU 21-17