CHATTANOOGA (UTC/WRCB) -- Freshman phenom Nick Soto is the last man standing in the championship bracket for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga after day one of the 2012 Southern Scuffle.
The 133-pounder from Spring Hill, Fla., advanced to the semifinals of the main draw while guiding the Mat Mocs to an eighth-place standing halfway through the prestigious event.
Chattanooga had five wrestlers advance to the quarterfinals, but Soto was the only one to survive. Juniors Dean Pavlou (149) and Niko Brown (197) joined seniors Dan Waddell (157) and Brandon Wright (165) as quarterfinalists. All four will be alive in the wrestleback consolation bracket when wrestling resumes Monday morning.
UTC totaled 46.5 points and trails Southern Conference foe Appalachian State (49.0) by 2.5 points for seventh place. Fifth-ranked and defending national champion Penn State leads the way with 118.0 points. The Nittany Lions have nine semifinalists.
No. 3 Minnesota is in second with 110.5. No. 10 Missouri (83.5), No. 4 Cornell (79.0) and No. 11 Oregon State (66.0) round out the top five.
Soto began the day with a 10-1 major decision over Minnesota's Randy Hanson and followed it with a 7-3 decision against Missouri's Eric Wilson. His quarterfinal win came against Hofstra's Jamie Franco by way of a 7-5 decision.
Soto will face top-seeded and No. 5 ranked David Thom of Minnesota in the semis, which begin at 11:00 a.m. ET.
"Soto continues to reap the benefits of his hard work," stated UTC Head Coach Heath Eslinger. "He is on a hot streak and it is fun to watch. He has a big challenge tomorrow and will be a true test to see where he is in his development this early in his career."
Pavlou, a former Bradley Central standout, posted two wins on his way to an appearance in the 149 quarters. He fell to No. 1 Frank Molinaro of Penn State but is still alive in Monday's consolation draws where he will face unattached Seth Vernon. The consolations begin at 9:00 a.m.
Waddell, a former Baylor School star, benefitted from two forfeits before finally taking the mat in the 157 quarterfinals. He fell to North Carolina's Corey Mock but will go against Navy's Bobby Barnhisel in the backdraw.
Wright had an impressive pin just 35 seconds into his match against Cornell's Marshall Peppelman, which advanced him into the quarters. That got most of the 2,210 fans in attendance on their feet. He also battled No. 3 Paul Gillespie and had a chance to tie it up late, but fell 4-1 after the riding time point was added.
"Brandon came on strong late last year," added Eslinger. "I hope that this tournament gets him going a little bit earlier this time around."
Brown posted a pair of decisions in his first two matches before running into No. 1 Cam Simaz of Cornell in the quarters. He dropped that match but will take on Cornell's Jace Bennett in the wrestlebacks.
Doors open at McKenzie Arena at 8:00 a.m. for Day 2 of the 2012 Southern Scuffle. Action begins at 9:00 a.m. with the Consolation 4th Round. The semifinals are set for 11:00 a.m. and the medal rounds at 2:30 p.m. The finals begin at 6:00 p.m. and will be streamed live via MocsVision on GoMocs.com.
2012 Southern Scuffle - Day 1 (McKenzie Aren)
1. No. 5 Penn State - 118.0
2. No. 3 Minnesota - 110.5
3. No. 10 Missouri - 83.5
4. No. 4 Cornell - 79.0
5. No. 11 Oregon State - 66.0
6. No. 15 Virginia - 59.5
7. No. 43 Appalachian State - 49.0
8. Chattanooga - 46.5
9. North Carolina - 43.5
10. No. 32 Ohio - 42.5
Information provided by UTC Sports Information and GoMocs.com.