ST. LOUIS (WRCB) -- Only two of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's five qualifiers survived the first day of the NCAA Wrestling Championships on Thursday.
Senior Brandon Wright and freshman Nick Soto will both wrestle in the consolation brackets after splitting their first two matches.
All five Mat Mocs received a bye through the first round, but Wright was the only one to win in the main draw to advance into the round of 16.
The 165-pounder dominated Michigan State's David Cheza in a 5-2 decision that included nearly three minutes of riding time, but was pinned by Penn State powerhouse David Taylor in 1:52 in the second round.
Wright will face Virginia Tech's Peter Yates in an elimination match Friday morning.
Soto entered the tournament at No. 16 in the country, but had a tough championship debut. The 133-pound SoCon Freshman of the Year was pinned by Illinois' B.J. Futtrell at the 4:14 mark. Soto had beaten fourth-seeded Futtrell by an 8-2 decision earlier this year.
The youngster bounced back with a 9-4 decision over Old Dominion's Scott Festejo in his first consolation bout, advancing to meet Edinboro's A.J. Schopp in another elimination bout on Friday.
Former Baylor School standout Dan Waddell was the only other UTC wrestler to post a win on Thursday.
The 157-pound senior lost a 10-0 major decision to Clarion's sixth-seeded James Fleming in the main draw, but rebounded with a 5-2 decision over Kent State's Mallie Shuster in the first round of consolations.
However, Waddell's draw made him the only Moc to face three first-day matches, and his season and UTC career came to a close with a 4-1 loss to Lehigh's Brian Tanen.
Former Bradley Central star Dean Pavlou was the first Chattanooga grappler eliminated, going 0-2 in his second NCAA Championships appearance. The 149-pound junior dropped a 9-4 decision to Pittsburgh's Tyler Nauman in the main draw before being pinned by Indiana's Taylor Walsh in an elimination bout.
Levi Clemons' season also ended after just two matches. The 174-pound sophomore, who received an at-large bid to the championships after a third-place finish at the SoCon Championships, fell into the consolation bracket after an 11-2 major decision loss to Minnesota's Logan Storely. He was later eliminated by a 12-4 major decision loss to Wyoming's Patrick Martinez.
Wrestling resumes at 11am CT on Friday morning with the championship quarterfinals and more consolation rounds. Champions will be crowned on Saturday night.
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