University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling head coach Heath Eslinger announced the signing of a pair of student-athletes to National Letters of Intent today. Kevin Cooper and Michael Pongracz both recently inked their NLIs in the early signing period and will join the Mocs in the fall of 2013.
"We are very excited about the two individuals we signed in the early period," stated Eslinger. "They both like what we are doing with Chattanooga Wrestling and have committed to help our program's continuous improvement, academically, athletically and socially."
Cooper, a native of Morning View, Ky., is a two-time state champion at Simon Kenton High School and is expected to compete at 157 pounds on the collegiate level. He went 68-0 as a junior and is currently ranked No. 17 in the nation at 145 by InterMat.
Pongracz hails from Milford, N.J., where he is a senior at Delaware Valley High School. He finished fifth in the New Jersey State Championships, posting a 38-4 overall record as a junior in 2012. He is expected to compete at 133 pounds at the collegiate level.
"Kevin and Michael both had outstanding junior years," added Eslinger. "Kevin went undefeated while Michael placed fifth against some tough competition. We will eagerly watch them strive for their goals at the prep level as they prepare to join our program next fall."
Kevin Cooper - 157 - Morning View, Ky. (Simon Kenton HS)
Two-time Kentucky State Champion ... went 68-0 at 145 as a junior at Simon Kenton High School in Independence, Ky. ... team captain ... wrestled for head coach Nathan Gilbert ... has a 171-5 record in high school ... state champ and 55-3 mark at 135 as a sophomore ... runner-up and 56-2 record at 125 as a freshman ... Honor Roll student ... also lettered in football, track & field and cross country ... placed fifth in the 2012 Fargo Nationals and third at the Flo Nationals ... earned the 2012 Kentucky National Guard Warrior Award ... 2012 Kentucky Enquirer All-Star Wrestler of the Year ... PERSONAL ... full name is Kevin M. Cooper ... son of Mack and Jeanne Cooper ... born July 24, 1995 ... has three older brothers, Craig, Brad and Neil, and an older sister Shari ... Brad wrestled at the University of the Cumberlands ... plans to major in business.
Michael Pongracz - 133 - Milford, N.J. (Delaware Valley HS)
Placed fifth at the New Jersey state championships as a junior at Delaware Valley High School in Frenchtown, N.J. ... went 38-4 as a junior for head coach Andy Fitz ... has a 113-14 career record ... Garden State Tournament champion ... John Goles and Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament champion and most outstanding wrestler ... 2012 Express-Times All-Area Wrestling Team ... PERSONAL ... Son of Dan and Monica Pongracz ... born July 18, 1995 ... has three sisters, Jennifer, Christine and Kimberly ... undecided on a major.