CHATTANOOGA (UTC) -- Soddy-Daisy's Campbell Lewis and McCallie's Alex Ward were among eight new signees announced Wednesday by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling program.
All eight members of coach Heath Eslinger's latest signing class won at least one state title during their prep careers, while four are also former high school All-Americans.
With the loss of four seniors to graduation from last year's Southern Conference Tournament Championship team, any one of these talented newcomers could work their way into the lineup.
"I am very pleased with the profile of our incoming class," stated Eslinger. "Add this group to the three guys we already signed in the fall and we have the pieces in place to continue building the brand of Chattanooga Strong. They have all been successful at the prep level and we expect that to carry over into their collegiate careers."
Highlighting the class are Clay Dent (184 - Piedmont, Ala.) and Jared Johnson (197 - Jefferson City, Mo.). Both were also highly recruited football players who also earned all-state recognition on the gridiron.
Dent was a three-time state champion wrestler at Piedmont High School in Piedmont, Ala. He set an Alabama State record for wins with a 76-0 mark at 182 as a senior. He was also an all-state linebacker on the Bulldogs' 3A football state championship squad and a state qualifier in track & field.
Johnson posted a 50-0 record as a senior on his way to winning the 195 title for Jefferson City High School in Jefferson City, Mo. He pinned his opponent in every contested match last season and owned a 100-1 record over the last two years. He was also an all-state linebacker in football as a senior.
Lewis (133 pounds) and Ward (133 pounds) are among five signees from the state of Tennessee. John Shrader (184 - Franklin, Tenn.), Parker Smith (149 - Franklin, Tenn.) and Austin Woods (141 - Franklin, Tenn.) are the others.
Shrader and Woods were teammates and state champions at Franklin High School in Franklin, Tenn. Shrader went 20-1 as a senior while Woods had a 51-1 mark last season and was an NHSCA All-American in his career.
Lewis became one of just nine in Tennessee history to win four state titles when he took home the 132-pound trophy for Soddy Daisy High School last season. A former NHSCA National Champion, Lewis was 81-6 over the last two years. Ward is a two-time state title winner from Chattanooga's McCallie School. He posted a 45-3 mark at 138 as a senior and was an NHSCA All-American in 2012.
Sean Mappes (165 - Greenwood, Ind.) rounds out the group. He was an undefeated state champion for Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Ind., last season, finishing with a 46-0 record. He placed fifth at the Senior Nationals in 2012 to earn NHSCA All-American honors and was also an all-county player on the Trojan's football team.
All totaled, these eight newcomers won 14 state championships and posted a combined 367-10 individual record last season. They were equally as impressive in the classroom with seven of the eight listing academic honors on their resumes. This group also includes three who are members of the National Honor Society.
"These are the types of student-athletes we want in our program," added Eslinger. "They are winners on the mat, successful in the classroom and represent themselves well in the community. We have been in the top-15 in the nation in team grade-point-average in each of the last two seasons and we expect these guys to help us continue and improve upon that accomplishment, in addition to continuing our championship tradition."
The Mocs already signed Zach Brisdon (125 - Sandown, N.H.), Caleb Denny (285 - Cincinnati, Ohio) and Landon Reed (141 - Ringgold, Ga.) in the fall. Brisdon placed fourth at the 2012 NHSCA Senior Nationals while Reed repeated as the Georgia State 3A Champion.
Information provided by UTC Sports Information and GoMocs.com.
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