The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team went 1-1 in front of a sold-out crowd at Maclellan Gym tonight. The Mocs shutout NAIA Cumberland 49-0 before falling to No. 2 Iowa 37-6 in the finale.
It was a full day of wrestling in the Scenic City that started with No. 17 Virginia defeating the Bulldogs 38-6. Cumberland then dropped a 52-0 match to the Hawkeyes before Iowa defeated Virginia 26-12.
Fans started filing in when the gates opened at 2:00 p.m. and did not stop until the doors were closed just after 7:00 p.m. It was the first sellout for a wrestling match in the recently renovated arena and the largest crowd for a dual match on record at UTC.
"I want to give a big thanks to the community for coming out," stated UTC head coach Heath Eslinger. "I hope people will come back when we wrestle (No. 6) Illinois (Jan. 6) and when we wrestle our conference schedule."
The Mocs started quickly in their 5:00 p.m. match with the Bulldogs. They jumped out to a 6-0 lead behind a first-period pin by No. 9 Nick Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) at 125. Chattanooga posted wins up to the 174-pound match before really turning it on.
Junior Jake Young (Ooltewah, Tenn.) wrestled in his first home match since 2010, scoring a pin over Zeke Hunt in the first period. At 184, senior Robert Prigmore (Southlake, Texas) pinned Aric Fernandez (4:11) in the second period for the second of four straight falls for UTC.
Senior Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) got the crowd going when he pinned Joe Gallegos just 11 seconds into the 197-pound match. Sophomore Kevin Malone (Carrollton, Ohio) finished off the dual with a first period pin at heavyweight.
Following the 5:00 p.m. contests, the second mat was cleared and the stage was set for the showdown with the second-ranked Hawkeyes. The Mocs have had some success over ranked teams at home in recent years, beating No. 12 Stanford 22-15 last season and No. 9 Ohio State 19-16 on Nov. 10, 2007.
Unfortunately, Iowa snuffed out any hope of an upset early, sandwiching a major decision at 133 between pins at 125 and 141. Junior Alex Hudson (Marietta, Ga.) got the Mocs on the board, and the crowd on their feet, with his convincing 8-2 decision over Brody Grothus at 149.
Chattanooga looked like it was going to get another win from Young at 174. He was leading Grant Gambrell 5-1 in the second period, but gave up an escape and takedown before the buzzer. Gambrell chose down in the third and quickly escaped to tie the match at 5-5. Gambrell then scored a takedown late in the period for a 7-5 win.
The match of the night came at 197 between Brown and Iowa's Tomas Lira. Brown was the aggressor from the opening whistle, scoring two takedowns and 4-2 lead early in the first period. Lira countered with a takedown of his own, but Brown escaped before the buzzer to stay ahead 5-4.
Brown escaped again to start the second and ignited the crowd with another takedown for an 8-4 lead. Another takedown in the period gave him a 10-6 lead after five minutes of action. He gave up an escape in the third, but fought off Lira for the 10-7 win to improve to 14-1 on the season.
The Mocs will be back in the room for the next four weeks, preparing for a road trip to Princeton (Dec. 14) and the Grapple in the Garden in New York's Madison Square Garden (Dec. 16). There UTC will face Rutgers and No. 4 Oklahoma State in the first collegiate duals held in the historic arena.
UTC returns home for the Southern Scuffle in McKenzie Arena on Jan. 1-2. Seven of the top-10 teams in the country will visit the Scenic City for the two-day tournament. The next home dual is scheduled for Jan. 6 against No. 6 Illinois. Ticket are on sale now on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).