CHATTANOOGA (UTC) -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team was selected Thursday as the preseason favorite to win the Southern Conference title by the league's coaches.
UTC has won eight straight SoCon Championships and 27 overall since joining the league in 1978.
Head coach Heath Eslinger's squad, which claimed both the regular season and tournament crowns in 2011, received four of seven first-place votes and 34 points overall, narrowly edging Appalachian State. Chattanooga carries a seven-year, 35-match SoCon duals win streak into the season.
The Mocs also placed four wrestlers on the 10-member preseason all-conference squad, including three who were previous SoCon tournament champions. Demetrius Johnson was the coaches' pick at 125 pounds along with Dean Pavlou at 149. The Mocs' Dan Waddell was the representative at 157 pounds while teammate Niko Brown was chosen at 197.
Appalachian State received the remaining three first-place votes and trailed Chattanooga by a single point in the overall balloting.
Three Mountaineers earned distinction from the coaches, including Mike Kessler (141 pounds), Kyle Blevins (165) and Austin Trotman (184). Trotman, the league's wrestler of the year in 2010, is the only two-time SoCon champion returning to the mat this season.
The Citadel secured the third spot in the coaches' voting with 26 points and was represented on the preseason all-conference team by 2011 Wrestler of the Year Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (174) and 2010 SoCon champion Odie Delaney (HWT).
SoCon newcomers Gardner-Webb (17 points) and Campbell (16) were selected for the fourth and fifth positions, respectively, in their first SoCon season. They were followed by VMI (15) and Davidson (6) to complete the poll.
VMI's Ryan Goodsell was the final selection to the preseason all-league squad, earning the spot at 133 pounds.
SIU-Edwardsville, which was also granted admittance to the Southern Conference as a wrestling member in June, will begin league competition in the 2012-13 after completing its final season of reclassification to NCAA Division I status.
The Mocs 2011-12 schedule begin on Friday, Nov. 4, when UTC hosts Old Dominion at 6:00 p.m. Season tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com or at the UTC Ticket Office by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627). Chattanooga will host the 2012 Southern Scuffle in Jan. 1-2 and the 2012 SoCon Championship on March 3, 2012. Both events will be held in McKenzie Arena and tickets for both are available on GoMocs.com.
2011-12 SoCon Wrestling Preseason Coaches Poll
1 Chattanooga (4) 34
2 Appalachian State (3) 33
3 The Citadel 26
4 Gardner-Webb 17
5 Campbell 16
6 VMI 15
7 Davidson 6
2012-12 SoCon Wrestling Preseason All-Conference Team
125 - Demetrius Johnson, Chattanooga @
133 - Ryan Goodsell, VMI
141 - Mike Kessler, Appalachian State
149 - Dean Pavlou, Chattanooga #
157 - Dan Waddell, Chattanooga @
165 - Kyle Blevins, Appalachian State ^
174 - Turtogtokh, Luvsandorj, The Citadel
184 - Austin Trotman, Appalachian State # ^
197 - Niko Brown, Chattanooga
HWT - Odie Delaney, The Citadel #
@ - 2009 SoCon Champion
# - 2010 SoCon Champion
^ - 2011 SoCon Champion