Mocs Set to Host the 2012 SoCon Championships
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team is set to host the 2012 Southern Conference Championships on Saturday, March 3, at the McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tenn.  The Mocs finished the regular season second in the SoCon with a 5-1 league tally and a 12-6 overall record. 

Action begins on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. (E.S.T.) with the finals set for 6:30 p.m.  Tickets for the event start at $8 for groups of 10 or more, $10 for youth and $15 for adults.  Tickets are available online at or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627). 

The UTC Ticket Office will open at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday with Arena doors opening at 9:00 a.m. for the general public.  Students from any SoCon member school will get a free ticket with a valid student ID.   

Chattanooga has won the SoCon Tournament 25 times since joining the league in 1977.  This is the sixth time UTC has hosted the event and the Mocs won all five previous league championships held in Chattanooga.  The last time UTC hosted the SoCon Tournament was in 2008. 

Fans not able to attend can follow the action live on MocsVision on  Cameras will be rolling all day on the two-mat setup. 

Niko Soto is the 2012 the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year.  Currently ranked No. 16 in the nation at 133, Soto is 22-6 overall and 6-0 in SoCon matches.  He posted 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 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.

Freshman Nick Soto was joined the All-Southern Conference team by seniors Manny Ramirez (125) and Dan Waddell (157).  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. 

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.    

Nick Soto was also on the Southern Conference All-Freshman team, along with heavyweight Kevin Malone.  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. 

125:  Manny Ramirez (Sr. - 4-1)
133:  No. 16 Nick Soto (Fr. - 22-6)
141:  Shawn Greevy (So. - 15-10)
149:  Dean Pavlou (Jr. - 16-8)
157:  Dan Waddell (Sr. - 19-9)
165:  Brandon Wright (Sr. - 18-9)
174:  Levi Clemons (So. - 18-13)
184:  Robert Prigmore (Jr. - 19-11)
197:  Niko Brown (Jr. - 16-6)
285:  Kevin Malone (Fr. - 24-11)

Senior Manny Ramirez (Fayetteville, N.C.) joined the Mocs for his final semester of competition in January, transferring from UNCG after the Spartans cut their program.  He is 4-1 overall and made the All-SoCon team after going 3-0 in league action.  His only loss is an OT defeat to No. 18 Michael Martinez of Wyoming at the NWCA National Duals.

Ramirez posted wins over the Citadel's Richard Alarcon (7-5 (OT)) and Appalachian State's Tony Gravely (W-MD, 13-1).  He is going for his second-straight SoCon title after winning last season at UNCG.    

Ramirez vs. the SoCon
      Richard Alarcon Jr. (Citadel 1/29) - W-D, 7-5 (OT)
      Tony Gravely (ASU 2/5) - W-MD, 13-1
      (VMI 2/20) - W, Forfeit 

Freshman Nick Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) moved up to No. 16 in the most recent InterMat Top-20.  It is the ninth week in a row he has been ranked.  He is also No. 12 in the NCAA Coaches Rankings released on Feb. 7.  The 2012 SoCon Freshman of the Year is currently 22-6 overall and went 6-0 in SoCon matches.         

Soto won five of his six league matches by major decision or fall.  His only close bout was a 3-1 win over The Citadel's Kyle Casaletto on Jan. 29. 

Soto vs. the SoCon
      Robert Golde (GWU 11/11) - W-MD, 18-8
      Joey Rizzolino (Campbell 1/20) - W-MD, 18-5
      Anthony Elias (Davidson 1/22) - W-MD, 22-9
      Kyle Casaletto (Citadel 1/29) - W-D, 3-1
      Brett Boston (ASU 2/5) - W-MD, 14-3
      Joe Jarrells (VMI 2/20) - W-Fall, 2:34

Sophomore Shawn Greevy (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) is 15-10 overall and 5-2 against SoCon opponents.  His only losses were to Appalachian State's Mike Kessler.  He dropped an 11-6 decision at the Hokie Open on Nov. 6 and an 8-2 decision in the dual meet on Feb. 5.   

Greevy vs. the SoCon
      Mike Kessler (ASU) - L-D, 6-11 - Hokie Open - Nov. 6
      Davante Andujar (GWU 11/11) - W-MD, 19-8
      Jordan Tolbert (Campbell) - W-MD, 9-1
      Benjamin Hartshorn (Davidson 1/22) - W-Fall, 6:27
      Jordan Dix (Citadel 1/29) - W-D, 7-1
      Mike Kessler (ASU 2/5) - L-D, 2-8
      Zeb Stewart (VMI 2/20) - W-MD, 12-4

There will be a switch from the regular lineup at 149, with junior Dean Pavlou (Cleveland, Tenn.) stepping in for senior Kelly Felix (Franklin, Tenn.).  Pavlou has pushed Felix all season long and grabbed the spot during the week leading up to the SoCon Championships.  Pavlou is 16-8 overall, including a sixth place finish at the Southern Scuffle.  He did not compete in any of the SoCon dual matches. 

Pavlou is looking for his second SoCon title, having won the 149 trophy as a freshman in 2010. 

Senior Dan Waddell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) is an All-SoCon selection and is 19-9 overall.  He had an impressive fourth place showing at the Scuffle and wins in 13 of his last 17 matches.  He is currently No. 28 in the NCAA Coaches rankings. 

Waddell went 6-1 against SoCon opponents, including a 6-0 mark in league duals where he did not allow more than three points.  He split matches with ASU's Chip Powell, falling 5-0 at the Hokie Open on Nov. 6 and winning 5-2 in the dual on Feb. 5.

Waddell is vying for his second SoCon title after winning at 149 as a freshman in 2009.  He lost in the finals at 165 to The Citadel's Turtogtokh Luvsandorj last season. 

Waddell vs. the SoCon
      Chip Powell (ASU) - L-D, 0-5 - Hokie Open - Nov. 6
      Alex Medved (GWU 11/11) - W-D, 6-2
      Nick Rex (Campbell 1/20) - W-D, 10-3
      Christopher Talevi (Davidson 1/22) - W-D, 14-2
      Pierre Frazile (Citadel 1/29) - W-D, 3-1
      Chip Powell (ASU 2/5) - W-D, 5-2
      Edward Gottwald (VMI 2/20) - W-D, 4-0

Brandon Wright (Germantown, Tenn.) is 18-9, including wins in nine of his last 11 matches.  He is currently No. 32 in the NCAA Coaches Rankings.  He went 6-1 against the league this season.  His only loss came against ASU's No. 16 Kyle Blevins (L-D, 3-6) in the dual match on Feb. 5. 

Wright won the SoCon title at 174 last season and is looking ot make a return trip to the NCAAs. 

Wright vs. the SoCon
      Mike Harper (Citadel) - W-D, 4-0 - Hokie Open - Nov. 6
      Justin Guthrie (GWU 11/11) - W-Fall, 4:54
      Ryan Krecker (Campbell 1/20) - W-D, 3-0 
      Tyler Mullen (Davidson 1/22) - W-MD, 16-7
      Mike Harper (Citadel 1/29) - W-MD, 12-3
      No. 16 Kyle Blevins (ASU 2/5) - L-D, 6-3
      Carry Joseph (VMI 2/20) - W-MD, 19-5

Sophomore Levi Clemons (Kissimmee, Fla.) is 18-13 overall.  He has wins in nine of his last 12 matches.  He went 7-4 against SoCon competition, including a pair of losses to The Citadel's Turtogtokh Luvsandorj.  Luvsandorj has been ranked throughout the season, but is currently just outside of the top-20.  

Clemons vs. the SoCon
      No. 9 Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (Citadel) - L-D, 1-7 - Hokie Open - Nov. 6
      Matthew Brock (VMI) - L-D, 0-4 - Hokie Open - Nov. 6
      Collin Hedash (ASU) - L-D, 6-7 - Davidson Open - Dec. 3
      Jake Johnson (ASU) - W-D, 5-2 - Davidson Open - Dec. 3
      Scott Reilley (GWU) - W-D, 5-3 - Davidson Open - Dec. 3
      Dominick Vetell (ASU) - W-Fall, 3:00 - Davidson Open - Dec. 3
      James Cook (Campbell 1/20) - W-D, 6-4
      (Davidson 1/22) - W-Forfeit
      No. 19 Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (Citadel 1/29) - L-Fall 5:35
      Carter Downs (ASU 2/5) - W-D, 7-3
      Matthew Brock (VMI 2/20) - W-D, 5-2 

Junior Robert Prigmore (Southlake, Texas) is 19-11 and 3-0 in the SoCon at 184.  He bumped up to 197 in place of junior Niko Brown where he is 2-1.  His three SoCon wins at 184 came against Gardner-Webb, Campbell and The Citadel.  He did not wrestle against Appalachian State's Austin Troutman who is currently ranked No. 12 in the nation. 

Prigmore vs. the SoCon (184)
      Erin O'Dell (GWU 11/11) - W-D, 4-0
      Matthew Cox (Campbell 1/20) - W-D, 4-0
      Josh Tuck (Citadel 1/29) - W-Fall, 6:22

Prigmore also won the Davidson Open earlier in the year and is tied for team-high with six pins.

Junior Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) is back in the lineup after missing over a month with a knee injury.  He suffered the injury in the early moments of a 16-4 loss to Campbell's John Weakley.  Brown had defeated Weakly 3-2 at the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1.  His other league match was a pin against Gardner-Webb's Julian Ming on Nov. 11.  Brown has a 16-6 overall record, including a fifth place finish at the Hokie Open and a seventh place showing at the Southern Scuffle. 

Brown vs. the SoCon
     Julian Ming (GWU 11/11) - W-Fall, 6:56
     John Weakley (Campbell) - W-D, 3-2 - Southern Scuffle - Jan. 1-2
     John Weakley (Campbell 1/20) - L-MD, 4-16

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 24-11 record, and was named to the SoCon All-Freshman team.  He is 7-2 against SoCon opponents this season.  His only losses were to The Citadel's Andrew Delaney, a fall a the Davidson Open on Dec. 3 and a 9-3 decision in the dual match on Jan. 29.  Delaney is currently ranked No. 14 in the nation at heavyweight.  

Malone vs. the SoCon
      Brock Durfee (ASU) - W-D, 6-2 - Hokie Open - Nov. 6
      Justin Kozera (GWU 11/11) - W-MD, 10-1
      Andrew Delaney (Citadel) - L-Fall, 5:16 - Davidson Open - Dec. 3 
      Andrew Embree (VMI) - W-D, 3-2 - Davidson Open - Dec. 3
      Joe Nolan (Campbell 1/20) - W-Fall, 3:33
      (Davidson 1/22) - W-Forfeit
      No. 18 Andrew Delaney (Citadel 1/29) - L-D, 3-9
      Joe Cummings (ASU 2/5) - W-D, 6-4
      Andrew Embree (VMI 2/20) - W-D, 6-1

The Mocs are one of four teams listed as receiving votes in this week's NWCA/USA Today Division I Coaches Top-25.  Chattanooga has won nine of its last 12 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 second of three coaches' panel rankings for the 2011-12 wrestling season on Feb. 7 and four Mocs were listed.  Nick Soto (No. 12 at 133), Dean Pavlou (No. 32 at 149), Dan Waddell (No. 28 at 157) and Brandon Wright (No. 32 at 165) 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 sixth on the Mocs all-time coaching victories list.  Eslinger is 34-22 (.607) in his third season at UTC.  He passed Ralph Manning (1991-95) Manning with the win at VMI on Feb. 20.  Manning went 33-26 (.559) in five seasons with the Mocs.  Eslinger needs five more wins to catch his predecessor, Chris Bono who was 39-17 from 2007-09.   

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 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. 

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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