The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team battled another top-10 opponent today, hosting No. 9 Illinois at Maclellan Gym. The Mocs raced out to a 10-0 lead with wins in the first three matches, but the Fighting Illini used the heart of their lineup to score a 29-10 win.
Sophomore Kevin Malone (Carrollton, Ohio) got UTC started at heavyweight. He scored a 2-1 overtime win against Chris Lopez for a 3-0 lead. Sophomore Nick Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) followed that with a 14-1 major decision over Dominic Olivieri at 125, giving the Mocs a 7-0 advantage.
Freshman Marvin Lopez (Cleveland, Tenn.) was also impressive in his 5-3 win over Logan Arlis. Lopex used a takedown in the first period, a reversal in the second, and over four minutes of riding time to improve to 8-7 on the year.
The Mocs are 4-5 in duals this season, while Illinois improved to 4-0. Four of the Mocs five losses have come against teams ranked the top-20, including three in the top-10.
UTC could not get another win in the final seven matches of the dual. Senior Josh Condon (Powder Springs, Ga.) came the closest, falling 5-4 to No. 8 Conrad Polz. Condon scored on three escapes and a stalling penalty in the loss.
Neither team was at full strength today. Illinois used four backups at 125, 133, 197 and heavyweight, while the Mocs were without junior Alex Hudson (149) and senior Niko Brown (197).
"We are both dinged up a little bit, and really this match did not mean a whole lot for us or them," stated head coach Heath Eslinger. "We are getting ready to get into our conference schedules, but considering the circumstances, I am not extremely frustrated. We have a good two weeks of training setup where we have to din a way to get better. I think we can go on an 8-0 run and be ready for the conference tournament and the national tournament."
"Kevin's our heavyweight and he has to find a way to win those matches," added Eslinger. "Soto looked good. Obviously, they did not send their best guy out, but all you can do is wrestler the guy they put out there. Marvin got a big win and he has to get on a roll and get excited about the postseason."
The Mocs are back in action on Jan. 27 when they open Southern Conference action against The Citadel. Match time is set for 2:00 p.m. in Maclellan Gym. The Bulldog match is Legends Weekend for Mocs wrestling. For more information on Legends Weekend, check the Legends Weekend Letter & Registration on the side bar of the wrestling page on GoMocs.com. Tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
Chattanooga 10 - No. 9 Illinois 29
285: Kevin Malone (UTC) - Dec. 2-1 (OT) - Chris Lopez (Illinois) - UTC 3-0
125: No. 7 Nick Soto (UTC) - MD 14-1 - Dominic Olivieri (Illinois) - UTC 7-0
133: Marvin Lopez (UTC) - Dec. 5-3 - Logan Arlis (Illinois) - UTC 10-0
141: No. 3 Bernard Futrell (Illinois) - Fall 1:27 - Dean Pavlou (UTC) - UTC 10-6
149: Caleb Ervin (Illinois) - Dec. 11-4 - Jared Presley (UTC) - UTC 10-9
157: Matthew Nora (Illinois) - Dec. 8-1 - Trey Stavrum (UTC) - Illinois 12-10
165: No. 8 Conrad Polz (Illinois) - Dec. 5-4 - Josh Condon (UTC) - Illinois 15-10
174: No. 8 Jordan Blanton (Illinois) - Fall 3:13 - John Lampe (UTC) - Illinois 21-10
184: No. 19 Tony Dallago (Illinois) - Tech Fall 21-6 (0:00) - Robert Prigmore (UTC) - 26-10
197: Jeffrey Koepke (Illinois) - Dec. 7-2 - John Shrader (UTC) - Illinois 29-10