The Chattanooga wrestling team took over first place in the Southern Conference race with a 28-18 win over UNC-Greensboro today. The Mocs improved to 9-7 on the season and 3-0 in SoCon action while the Spartans dropped to 2-1 in league meets and 2-10 overall.
The Mocs fell behind early in the match today, getting pinned at 125 and dropping the 133 match. Trailing 9-0 after two classes, the Mocs needed big wins in the next two matches to get back into the meet.
All-American junior Cody Cleveland stopped the bleeding with a 13-6 decision over Chris Bencivenga in the 141 match. The eighth-ranked Cleveland improved to 16-4 on the season and is now 3-0 in SoCon meets.
Freshman Dan Waddell was back in the line-up at 149 after missing the previous three matches due to injuries. He earned a 6-5 decision over Ben Wilmore to pull the Mocs to within 9-6. Wilmore used a two-point near-fall to go up 5-4 headed into the final period, but Waddell was able to score a reversal with a minute remaining to pull ahead, 6-5.
Chattanooga got into real trouble in the 157-pound match when freshman Brandon Wright was pinned by Andrew Saunders. After scoring an early takedown, Saunders ran a half nelson to pin Wright with just nine seconds left in the first period.
With UTC trailing 15-6 and planning to forfeit at 184, head coach Chris Bono had to make a shift in his line-up. He inserted junior Joey Knox at 165 and bumped senior Seth Garvin (174) and freshman Jason McCroskey (184) up a weight class. The move resulted in two technical falls and a pin for the Mocs.
Knox, ranked No. 19 in the nation at 157, used three takedowns and three near-falls to score a 15-0 technical fall over Victor Hojilla. It was Knox’s first action since suffering a high-ankle sprain against Oklahoma on Jan. 11, moving the score to 15-11.
The Mocs took their first lead of the afternoon after Garvin recorded his own, 15-0, technical fall. Garvin, ranked No. 19 at 165, scored four near-falls as he defeated Byron Sigmon at 174 pounds to give Chattanooga a 16-15 lead in the team score.
McCroskey pushed the Mocs lead to 22-15 after recording a third period pin against Mikal McKee. After trailing 1-0 heading into the third period, McKee chose neutral and scored an early takedown before McCroskey scored an escape to knot the match at 1. McCroskey then scored a takedown and put McKee directly to his back for the pin.
Freshman Ethan Winel made it back-to-back pins for Chattanooga after downing Ryan Sughrue at 197 pounds. Trailing 3-2 in the third period, Winel used an inside trip to put Sughrue to his back and extend the Mocs lead to 28-15.
In the final match of the afternoon, UNCG’s Joe Sheffield scored a third period takedown to win, 3-1, against freshman Cody Sliger at 285 pounds.
The Mocs return to action for a pair of duals on Friday, Jan. 30. UTC hosts Campbellsville and The Citadel in beginning at 6:00 p.m. (E.S.T.) in McKenzie Arena.
The Mocs are auctioning off another Ultimate Wrestling Experience for the match against No. 2 Cornell on Saturday, Jan. 31. Fans can click here to bid on the prize that includes two tickets with premium seating beside the mat, locker room access for pregame preparations with the team, food vouchers, hostess to deliver your food to your seats and available if other purchases are needed from the concession stand, photo taken with Coach Bono and two (2) Mocs Wrestling T-Shirts
The Cornell match starts at 1:00 p.m. in MacLellan Gym.
UTC 28, UNC Greensboro 18
125: Mitchell Johnson (UNCG) fall Demetrius Johnson (UTC), 2:23 (6-0)
133: Casey Boyle (UNCG) dec. Josh Statum (UTC), 6-4 (9-0)
141: No. 8 Cody Cleveland (UTC) dec. Chris Bencivenga (UNCG), 13-6 (9-3)
149: Dan Waddell (UTC) dec. Ben Wilmore (UNCG), 6-5 (9-6)
157: Andrew Saunders (UNCG) fall Brandon Wright (UTC), 2:51 (15-6)
165: Joey Knox (UTC) tech. fall Victor Hojilla (UNCG), 15-0 (15-11)
174: Seth Garvin (UTC) tech. fall Byron Sigmon (UNCG), 15-0 (15-16)
184: Jason McCroskey (UTC) fall Mikal McKee (UNCG), 5:54 (15-22)
197: Ethan Winel (UTC) fall Ryan Sughrue (UNCG), 5:41 (15-28)
285: Joe Sheffield (UNCG) dec. Cody Sliger (UTC), 3-1 (18-28)