CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga did not leave its own tournament empty-handed Wednesday night.
Dean Pavlou won a 4-2 decision over Penn State's Bryan Pearsall to claim seventh place in the 141-pound weight bracket at the 2013 Southern Scuffle at McKenzie Arena.
Pavlou, a former Bradley Central star, was the only UTC wrestler to make it to the podium. Chattanooga entered Wednesday night's championship session 14th in the 23-team field.
The Mat Mocs finished 14th as a team with 31.5 points.
"The positive I take from this event is that the gap is not that big. I think we're very close to being right there with the best in the country at several weight classes," said Chattanooga head coach Heath Eslinger. "But as small as that gap is, it's a ton of work. To go from good to great, it's a small gap that takes three times the amount of work.
"But we have the guys on our team that want to do that, so we have to do a good job as coaches and they have to do a good job as athletes over the next two and a half months."
Penn State dominated from start to finish to win its second straight Southern Scuffle championship with 178.5 total points. The top-ranked Nittany Lions crowned three champions (Nico Megaludis at 125 pounds, Ed Ruth at 184 and Quentin Wright at 197) and two runners-up (James Volrath at 157 and David Taylor at 165) while placing a grappler in the top eight in every weight class.
Oklahoma State (158 points) finished second, followed by Missouri (147.5), Minnesota (139.5) and Cornell (136).
Former Baylor School standout Zach Watson also made the podium, though he didn't get to wrestle in his fifth-place match at 133 pounds.
Watson, now a freshman at Virginia, finished sixth after a medical forfeit to teammate George DiCamillo in his medal match. The five-time Tennessee high school champ and Chattanooga native wore sling on his left shoulder during the trophy presentation.
Pavlou, a former Bradley Central star, earned a spot on the podium with a medical forfeit in his first consolation match of the day. He then lost a 10-0 major decision to second-seeded Connor Hanafee of Army to fall into the seventh-place match.
Nick Soto (125 pounds), Niko Brown (197) and Kevin Malone (285) were the only other Mat Mocs to survive day one of the tournament and needed just one win to get a shot at the podium, but all three were eliminated after losing their first consolation bout Wednesday morning.
"From a tournament standpoint, it was a really great event," Eslinger said. "From a team standpoint, I wanted our guys to perform better, but everything is education until the NCAA Tournament.
"We'll look at this and evaluate it, and we definitely found some weaknesses that we need to work on moving forward."
The Mocs next chance to improve upon those weaknesses is Sunday, when their rugged early-season schedule continues with a home dual meet against No. 6 Illinois at 2 p.m. ET at Maclellan Gymnasium.