Soto Named SoCon Freshman of the Year
Freshman Nick Soto
Courtesy: GoMocs.com
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestler Niko Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) has been named the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year the league office announced today.  Currently ranked No. 16 in the nation at 133, Soto is 22-6 overall and one of four Mocs honored by the SoCon today.

Seniors Manny Ramirez (Fayetteville, N.C.) and Dan Waddell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) joined Soto on the All-SoCon team.  Freshman Kevin Malone (Carrollton, Ohio) was named to the SoCon All-Freshman squad. 

Soto went 6-0 in SoCon matches this season, posting four major decision wins and one pin on his way to a perfect league record.  His freshman campaign took off when he finished second at the prestigious Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga in January.  He also has two wins over top-5 opponents and posted a 4.0 grade-point-average in the fall. 

Soto is the seventh Moc in school history to be named SoCon Freshman of the Year and the first since Jake Young in 2010.  Gerald Carr (1993), Josh Lambrecht (2000), Jared Sullivan (2001), Matt Pitts (2002) and Jason McCroskey (2009) are the others who have taken home the honor from UTC.

Waddell earns his second All-SoCon honor and the first since his freshman season in 2009.  He went 19-9 this season, including a 6-0 mark in league matches at 157.  He did not allow more than three points to any conference opponent.  He also had a strong semester in the classroom, earning a spot on the Athletics Director's Honor Roll in the fall.     

Ramirez got the nod at 125 after transferring to UTC from UNCG in January.  He is just 4-1 on the season, but is 3-0 in SoCon action.  His last two wins have been by major decision and fall.  His only loss on the year was a 5-4 setback in overtime to Wyoming's No. 18 Michael Martinez at the NWCA National Duals in February.  This is Ramirez's second All-SoCon award after earning a spot on the team last season at UNCG.     

Malone led the team with a 24-11 overall record.  He was 5-1 in SoCon matches with his only loss coming against The Citadel's 18th-ranked Andrew Delaney.  He dropped that match 9-3 on Jan. 29. 

The Mocs are set to host the 2012 Southern Conference Championship at McKenzie Arena on Saturday, March 3.  UTC finished the regular season with a 12-6 overall record and second in the SoCon with a 5-1 tally.  Tickets for the SoCon Tournament are currently available on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627). 

2012 SoCon Wrestling All-Conference Team
125:  Manuel Ramirez*, Sr., Chattanooga
133:  Nick Soto, Fr., Chattanooga
141:  Mike Kessler, Sr., Appalachian State
149:  Savva Kostis*, Sr., Appalachian State
157:  Dan Waddell*, Sr., Chattanooga
165:  Kyle Blevins, Sr., Appalachian State
174:  Turtogtokh Luvsandorj*, Jr., The Citadel
184:  Austin Trotman#, Sr., Appalachian State
197:  Kelby Smith, Sr., The Citadel
HWT:  Odie Delaney*, Jr., The Citadel

* - Two-time All-Conference
# - Three-time All-Conference

Wrestler of the Year
Kyle Blevins, 165, Sr., Appalachian State

2012 SoCon Wrestling All-Freshman Team
Paul Weiss, Appalachian State
James Cook, Campbell
Mark Hartenstine, Campbell
Ryan Krecker, Campbell
Joe Nolan, Campbell
Joey Rizzolino, Campbell
Kyle Casaletto, The Citadel
Kevin Malone, Chattanooga
Nick Soto, Chattanooga

Freshman of the Year
Nick Soto, 133, Chattanooga

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