Mocs Open NWCA National Duals with No. 10 Wyoming
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team will take part in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Cliff Keen National Duals Presented by Hibiclens and The Marines this weekend.  The Mocs (11-4, 4-1 SoCon) will compete at the Oklahoma State regional on Sunday, Feb. 12, in Stillwater, Okla. 

The 24-team event is broken into six regionals.  The Mocs are the No. 5 seed at OSU and will face No. 4 seed Wyoming at 2:00 p.m. (E.S.T.) in Gallagher-Iba Arena.  The Cowboys are 7-2 overall and 4-0 in the Western Wrestling Conference.  They are No. 10 in the NWCA/USA Today Top-25 and tied for No. 8 in the InterMat rankings. 

The winner will face top-seeded and No. 1 ranked Oklahoma State.  No. 8 Nebraska (#2 seed), No. 6 Ohio State (#3 seed) and Boise State (#6 seed) round out the six teams at the Oklahoma State regional.  Brackets for all four regions are available in the .pdf of the match notes.  The winners of the four regions will meet for the national dual championship at a site to be determined.

Live scoring will be available for this weekend's action.  Links can be found on the wrestling schedule page on  If Chattanooga faces host Oklahoma State, there will be a live audio broadcast with links also available on       

The Mocs have not faced Wyoming in a dual match, and are 0-5 all-time against Oklahoma State.  UTC is also winless in four tries against Nebraska, but 3-4-1 against Ohio State.  UTC's last meeting with the Buckeyes was a 19-17 win in Chattanooga in 2007.  The Mocs are 2-0 all-time against Boise State.   

125:  Manny Ramirez (Sr. - 2-0)
133:  No. 13 Nick Soto (Fr. - 21-4)
141:  Shawn Greevy (So. - 13-9)
149:  Kelly Felix (Sr. - 12-9)/Dean Pavlou (Jr. - 12-7)
157:  Dan Waddell (Sr. - 18-7)
165:  Brandon Wright (Sr. - 16-8)
174:  Levi Clemons (So. - 17-11)
184:  Robert Prigmore (Jr. - 18-9)
197:  Niko Brown (Jr. - 16-6)/Cory Canada (Fr. - 0-2)
285:  Kevin Malone (Fr. - 22-10)

The Mocs are one of two teams listed as receiving votes in this week's NWCA/USA Today Division I Coaches Top-25.  Chattanooga has won eight of its last nine matches and is 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.     

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.

Head coach Heath Eslinger is currently tied for sixth with Ralph Manning (1991-95) on the Mocs all-time coaching victories list.  Eslinger is 33-20 (.622) 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 predecessor, Chris Bono who went 39-17 in three seasons from 2007-09.   

125: No. 18 Michael Martinez (Sr., 19-9)/Kasey Garnhart (Jr., 13-6)
133: No. 17 Zach Zehner (RFr., 24-9)
141: Chase Smith (Sr., 14-3)
149: McCade Ford (RJr., 6-10)
157: Dakota Friesth (RFr., 21-14)/Andy McCulley (RFr., 24-7)
165: No. 3 Shane Onufer (Sr., 23-1)
174: Pat Martinez (So., 28-9)
184: No. 1 Joe LeBlanc (Sr., 23-1)
197: No. 8 Alfonso Hernandez (RJr., 30-4)
285: L.J. Helbig (Jr., 13-13)

The long awaited arrival of senior Manny Ramirez took place at The Citadel and he did not disappoint.  He scored an overtime win that all but sealed the Mocs 27-13 team victory.  He then recorded a major decision in his second match against Appalachian State.  The transfer from UNC Greensboro and  2011 SoCon Champion is set to make another run at a SoCon Championship. 

He will likely face Wyoming's 18th ranked senior Michael Martinez.  Oklahoma State sophomore John Morrison (13) and Ohio State freshman Johnni DiJulius (16) are both ranked in this class. 

Freshman Nick Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) has moved up to No. 13 in the most recent InterMat Top-20.  It is the sixth 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 21-4 overall, having won nine-straight matches and 16 of his last 17.     

Soto will be facing Wyoming's 17th ranked freshman Zach Zehner.  There are three other's ranked at 133 in this region, including No. 2 Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State), No. 3 Logan Stieber (Ohio State)  and No. 18 Ridge Kelly (Nebraska).  

Soto is 2-2 against ranked opponents this season, all of which were ranked in the top-10 at the time of the match. 

Sophomore Shawn Greevy (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) had his eight-match winning streak snapped last week against Appalachian State.  He is still a solid 13-9 on the year and 4-1 in SoCon matches. 

There are two top-10 competitors at this class, including No. 5 Hunter Stieber (Ohio State) and No. 9 Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska). 

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 12-9 overall, 8-5 in duals, while Pavlou has a 16-6 mark. 

There are also two ranked wrestlers at 157 at this regional, including No. 2 Jamal Parks (Oklahoma State) and No. 15 Cam Tessari (Ohio State).

Senior Dan Waddell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) is a preseason All-SoCon selection and is 18-7 overall.  He had an impressive fourth place showing at the Scuffle and wins in 12 of his last 14 matches.  He is currently No. 28 in the NCAA Coaches rankings. 

There are four ranked at 157, including No. 7 James Green (Nebraska), No. 11 Albert White (Oklahoma State), No. 14 George Ivanov (Boise State) and No. 20 Josh Demas (Ohio State).

Brandon Wright (Germantown, Tenn.) is 16-8, including wins in seven of his last eight matches.  He is currently No. 31 in the NCAA Coaches Rankings. 

He will have his hands full in the first match with Wyoming's 3rd-ranked senior Shane Onufer.  Nebraska's No. 6 Robert Kokesh is also competing in this region at 165. 

Sophomore Levi Clemons (Kissimmee, Fla.) is 17-11 overall.  He has wins in eight of his last nine matches. 

There are three other ranked opponents at this region, including No. 3 Chris Perry (Oklahoma State), No. 7 Nick Heflin (Ohio State) and No. 20 Tyler Koehn (Nebraska).  Clemons is 0-5 against ranked foes this season. 

Junior Robert Prigmore (Southlake, Texas) is 18-9 and has won seven in a row at 184.  He has bumped up to 197 in place of junior Niko Brown in two of the last three matches where he is 1-1.  He won all four of his bouts at the Lone Star Duals and has wins in 16 of his last 20 outings.  He also won the Davidson Open earlier in the year and has a team-high six pins.

Prigmore's skills will certainly be put to the test against Wyoming.  The Cowboys roll out the nation's No. 1 wrestler in senior Joe LeBlanc at 184.  Nebraska's Josh Ihnen (8), Boise State's Jake Swartz (10) and Ohios State's C.J. Mangrum (11) are also ranked at 184. 

Junior Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) is having an outstanding season at 16-6.  He suffered a knee injury at Campbell and has sat out the last three matches.  He is No. 30 in the latest NCAA Coaches Rankings and could be back in the lineup this week.  Freshman Cory Canada has stepped in his place, but has lost at both 197 and 184.     

Whoever takes the mat for the Mocs will have his hands full with Wyoming's No. 9 Alfonso Hernandez.  No. 8 Blake Rosolt (Oklahoma State) and No. 20 Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State) are also ranked in this class. 

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 22-10 record, and is looking to improve on his 9-5 mark in dual matches.

There are two others ranked in the top-10, including No. 2 Alan Gelogaev (Oklahoma State) and No. 9 Tucker Lane (Nebraska).

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. 

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.    

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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