Chattanooga, TN -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team put on a dominating performance in front of a big crowd at Maclellan Gym this afternoon. The Mocs had little trouble defeating The Citadel 26-6 in Southern Conference action, improving to 7-9 on the year and 1-0 in league play.
Over 600 fans showed up to watch the Mocs win their 31st SoCon match in a row. UTC has won six-straight SoCon regular season titles and 18-straight league contests at home. Chattanooga has not dropped a SoCon match since 2004 and has not lost in conference action at home since 2003.
"It is an important win for us," stated head coach Heath Eslinger. "Every win from here on out is super-important. We've had a grueling schedule and we won every close match today. That's why we have a tough schedule, to get guys ready to win those matches. They are as good a team as any in our conference, so it is a big deal."
In a scheduling quirk, this was the last SoCon bout of the season for the Bulldogs and the first for the Mocs. The Citadel came in with a little swagger, sporting a 3-1 league mark. The Bulldogs were the last team in the league to defeat UTC back on Feb. 14, 2004, in Charleston, S.C., and were hoping to repeat that performance today.
Action began at 149 where sophomore Alex Hudson (Marietta, Ga.) scored a 10-5 decision over Derek Royster to give the Mocs a 3-0 lead.
It was low-scoring affair between sophomore Josh Condon (Powder Springs, Ga.) and Pierre Frazile at 157. Both managed just one escape for most of the match. With time winding down, Frazile seemed to let up and prepare for overtime. Condon pounced on the opening and scored a winning takedown just before the final horn. His 3-1 win moved him to 18-6 on the year and gave Chattanooga a 6-0 lead.
The next two matches were going to be tough ones for the Mocs as both opponents had 20+ wins. At 165, junior Dan Waddell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) took the mat against No. 8 Turotgtokh Luvsandorj. Luvsandorj was 29-6 on the year and was looking for bonus points. However, Waddell fought him off for the entire match and kept it close in the 9-4 loss.
Junior Brandon Wright (Germantown, Tenn.) was going for his first win in four matches at 174, facing J.C. Oddo who was 20-7 on the year. Trailing 2-1 with seconds left, Wright scored a reversal to take a 3-2 lead, sending the big crowd into a frenzy. Oddo escaped before the horn and the match went into overtime.
With the crowd on their feet, Wright shot out on the opening whistle and tallied the winning takedown seconds into sudden victory time. Wright's win gave UTC a 9-3 lead and took all of the wind out of the Bulldog's sails.
Junior Jason McCroskey followed that up with an 8-2 decision over Justin Sparrow at 175. It was McCroskey's team-leading 18th win of the year to go against seven losses.
Sophomore Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) improved to 15-7 with his 5-3 decision over Kelby Smith at 197. Sophomore Robert Prigmore (Southlake, Texas) scored the first bonus points with a 10-2 major decision over Luke Johnson at heavyweight.
Sophomore Prescot Garner (West Linn, Ore.) and senior Cody Cleveland (Tullahoma, Tenn.) rounded out the scoring for the Mocs with wins at 125 and 141, respectively. Cleveland, ranked No. 8 in the nation, posted an 11-1 major decision over Jordan Dix to move to 7-0 on the year.
Chattanooga hits the road next weekend for a pair of huge matches at UNC Greensboro and Appalachian State. The Mocs hope to get back a pair of starters who were out for the match against The Citadel. Junior Demetrius Johnson is still trying to get into the lineup at 133 for the first time this year. He is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Senior heavyweight Matt Lettner was also out with a foot injury.
UTC visits the Spartans on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 2:00 p.m. (E.S.T.) and travel to Boone, N.C. to take on the Mountaineers on Sunday, Feb. 6 at 2:00 p.m. The Mocs are back home on Sunday, Feb. 13, hosting Davidson in Maclellan Gym at 2:00 p.m.