CHATTANOOGA, TN (GoMocs.com)----The Chattanooga Mocs are off to the 78th annual Arby's Southern Conference Tournament in Asheville, N.C., this weekend. The Mocs have won 28 SoCon Tournament titles since joining the league in 1978, including each of the last four and nine of the last 10.
The Tournament is in conjunction with the SoCon Men's and Women's Basketball Championships for the first time since 1995. Wrestling takes place at UNC Asheville's Kimmel Arena on Saturday, March 7. Action begins at 10:00 a.m. (E.S.T.) with the preliminary rounds. The finals are set to start at 7:00 p.m.
FAMILIAR VOICE ON THE LIVE STREAM The Southern Conference provides a live stream of the action free of charge on the SoCon Digital Network. Mocs fans will recognize the play-by-play voice as that of Chattanooga native Danny Gilbert. Gilbert called most of UTC's home matches this weekend, including the memorable win over Oklahoma. Check out the wrestling schedule page on GoMocs.com for a link to the broadcast.
LIVE SCORING LINKS Live scoring for each match is available via Trackwrestling.com through a link on the wrestling schedule page on GoMocs.com. For more live updates be sure to follow Mocs wrestling on Twitter @UTCWrestling.
TICKETS Tickets can be purchased at the Kimmel Arena ticket window. Adult tickets are $15 and youth (6-12) tickets are $10. A group rate of $8 is available for parties of 10 or more.
HEADLOCK ON HUNGER The Southern Conference has teamed up with Eblen Charities, a nonprofit organization based in Asheville, North Carolina, to help fight the battle against childhood hunger. Collect non-perishable food items and bring them to the championship on March 7.
ANOTHER SOCON TITLE Chattanooga wrapped up its 15th Southern Conference regular season title with a 7-0 record in SoCon matches. The league started recognizing a season winner in 1994.
AUTOMATIC BIDS UP FOR GRABS The Southern Conference was allocated 14 spots for the NCAA Championships, with three at 149 pounds, two at 125 and heavyweight, and one at each of the other seven weights.
WEIGHT-BY-WEIGHT PREVIEW 125: Senior Sean Boyle is the SoCon Wrestler of the Year and ranked No. 8 in the nation at 125, according to Intermat's top-20. He is also No. 8 in the RPI and No. 9 in the Coaches Panel. He has a 27-5 overall record and 6-0 mark in SoCon matches. The transfer from Michigan is making his first appearance at the SoCon Championships and is looking for his third trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Boyle had a tight, 9-6 match with Appalachian State's Dominic Parisi in the regular season. Parisi won the SoCon title at 125 last season and is currently No. 21 in the RPI and No. 25 in the Coaches rankings.
133: Senior Nick Soto is 25-0 in regular season SoCon matches in his career and is a three-time SoCon Champion. He won it at 133 last season and his freshman year in 2012, as well as taking the 125 trophy as a sophomore in 2013. He is currently No. 13 in the nation with a 25-9 record and a 6-0 mark in SoCon bouts. He is also No. 13 in the RPI, No. 15 in the Coaches ranking and made the All-SoCon team.
141: Sophomore Michael Pongracz takes the mat at 141 for the Mocs. He is 18-13 overall and 5-1 in SoCon action. He made the All-SoCon team and grabbed the top seed in the tournament.
Pongracz was in a lot of close matches in the regular season. His lone loss was a 3-1 defeat to Appalachian State's Michael Longo. He also had close wins over The Citadel's Tyler Buckiso (2-1), VMI's Emmitt Kelly (3-0), and SIUE's Angelo Silvestro (5-4).
Pongracz made it to the finals as a freshman in 2014. There he lost to The Citadel's 10th-ranked Ugi Khishingnyam (8-3).
Pongracz vs. the SoCon Nate Harper (Citadel 11/9)Hokie Open........... W-MD, 13-1 Ryan Hull (GWU 1/16).......................... W-Fall (4:26) Tyler Buckiso (CIT 1/23)............................. W-D, 2-1 Emmitt Kelly (VMI 1/25)............................. W-D, 3-0 Dustin Runzo (DAV 1/30)...................... W-MD, 14-3 Michael Longo (ASU 2/7)............................ L-D, 1-3 Angelo Silvestro (SIUE 2/22)...................... W-D, 5-4
SoCon Tournament Seeds at 141: 1. Pongracz (UTC), 2. Buckiso (Citadel), 3. Longo (ASU), 4. Silvestro (SIUE), 5. Kelly (VMI), 6. Hull (GWU), 7. Runzo (Davidson).
149: With three spots up for grabs at 149 for the second year in a row, this will be a hotly contested bracket. Senior Shawn Greevy is the No. 2 seed for the Mocs. He is 16-10 overall and 3-1 in SoCon action. Greevy is ranked No. 25 in both the RPI and the NCAA Coaches Panel.
Gardner-Webb's Ryan Mosley is the No. 1 seed. He is No. 22 in the NCAA Coaches Rankings. The Citadel's Matt Frisch is seeded third and is No. 28 in the RPI and Coaches Rankings.
Greevy's only loss in the regular season was a 5-1 setback to Mosley on Jan. 16.
Greevy vs. the SoCon Matt Frisch (Citadel 11/22)Navy Classic............ W-D, 10-5 Ryan Mosley (GWU 1/16)............................ L-D, 1-5 Matt Frisch (CIT 1/23)................................ W-D, 3-1 Javon Johnson (ASU 2/7)....................... W-TF, 26-9 Karsten Van Velsor (SIUE 2/22)............ W-Fall (5:38)
SoCon Tournament Seeds at 149: 1. Mosley (GWU), 2. Greevy (UTC), 3. Frisch (Citadel), 4. Johnson (ASU), 5. van Velsor (SIUE), 6. McCord (Davidson), 7. Krall (VMI).
157: Junior Austin Sams takes the mat for the Mocs as the No. 3 seed at 157. He is 16-15 overall and 5-2 in league matches.
The Citadel's Aaron Walker is the No. 1 seed with a 7-0 league record. He carries a No. 11 national ranking according to Intermat this week. Walker is No. 23 in the RPI and up to No. 14 in the NCAA Coaches Rankings. Walker beat Sams 10-4 in the regular season meeting. Sams also lost a close one to Appalachian State's Zach Strickland, who is the No. 2 seed this week.
Sams nearly made it to the NCAA last season at 149. He lost in overtime on a close call at the buzzer in the third place match. The SoCon had three bids at 149 in 2014.
165: UTC freshman Justin Lampe is the No. 4 seed at 165. He joined the team in January and is 4-11 overall. All four of his wins came in seven SoCon matches. He earned a spot on the SoCon All-Freshman team.
Appalachian State's Nick Kee went 7-0 in league matches and is the No. 1 seed. He is No. 28 in the coaches rankings with an 18-9 overall record. Gardner-Webb's Austin Trott is 23-7 overall and 6-1 in SoCon action He is No. 26 in the RPI and No. 31 in the Coaches rankings.
174: Sophomore Sean Mappes is in the lineup at 174. He is 14-9 at 174 and 4-2 in league matches. He is the No. 4 seed in the tournament.
SIUE's Jake Residori is No. 24 in the RPI and the No. 1 seed in the tournament. He was 6-1 in SoCon matches and 25-12 overall. He beat Mappes in a close 4-6 decision in the season finale. Mappes also lost to Appalachian State's Forest Przybysz by one point (4-3).
184: Sophomore John Shrader beat sophomore McCoy Newberg in a wrestle-off for the right to represent the team at 184 this week. Shrader is 13-6 overall and 4-0 in SoCon action.
Shrader is the No. 2 seed in this bracket. Davidson's Scott Patrick is the No. 1 seed with a 6-0 mark in league bouts. These two did not meet in the regular season. Patrick scored a 3-2 decision over John Lampe in the dual meet with UTC.
UTC has not had a SoCon Champion at 184 since Josh Edmundson in 2008.
Shrader vs. the SoCon Jared Hemmings (Citadel 11/9)Hokie Open... W-Fall (5:05) Gray Jones (GWU 1/16)............................. W-D, 3-0 John Duane (CIT 1/23)............................ W-MD, 9-0 Derek Thurman (VMI 1/25).......................... W-D, 5-0 Derek Nagel (SIUE 2/22)....................... W-MD, 12-4
197: Sophomore Scottie Boykin is a two-time All-SoCon pick and the No. 1 seed at 197 for the second year in a row. He was upset in the finals last season by The Citadel's Marshall Haas and is still looking for his first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Haas is back as the No. 2 seed again this year. Boykin beat him 5-2 in the regular season.
Boykin went 7-0 in SoCon matches, 21-10 overall. He is No. 30 in the RPI and No. 31 in the NCAA Coaches Panel and still looking for his first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
285: There are two spots on the line at heavyweight. Sophomore Jared Johnson has been solid after moving up from 197 in the offseason. He is 26-8 overall, but lost his last two matches.
Johnson went 5-1 in the league. He missed the Appalachian State match with an illness and a chance to face the Mountaineers' 19th ranked Denzel Dejournette.
Dejournette is No. 19 in the RPI and No. 18 in the NCAA Coaches Panel. He was pinned by VMI's Juan Adams, dropping him to the No. 3 seed. Adams get the No. 1 nod, despite his 9-7 loss to Johnson. Johnson's lone loss in SoCon action was in overtime to SIUE's Chris Johnson (4-2).
The Mocs have not had a heavyweight champion in the SoCon Tournament since Matt Koz in 2007.
Johnson vs. the SoCon Justin Kozera (GWU 1/16)....................... W-MD, 9-1 Cody Ryba (Campbell 1/18)................. W-Fall (1:41) Joseph Bexley (CIT 1/23)........................ W-MD, 8-0 Juan Adams (VMI 1/25)............................. W-D, 9-7 Will Cooley (DAV 1/30)........................... W-TF, 17-0 Chris Johnson (SIUE 2/22)................... L-D, 2-4 (OT)
SoCon Tournament Seeds at 285: 1. Adams (VMI), 2. Johnson (UTC), 3. Dejournette (ASU), 4. Bexley (Citadel), No. 5 Kozera (GWU), No. 6 Johnson (SIUE), No. 7 Isola (Davidson).
MOCS AT THE SOCON TOURNAMENT UTC has won 28 Southern Conference Tournament titles since joining the league in 1978. The last time UTC did not grab the SoCon crown was a fourth place finish in 2010. Here is a year-by-year look at how the Mocs have fared at the SoCon Championships.
BOYLE NAMED SOCON WRESTLER OF THE YEAR Senior Sean Boyle is the Southern Conference Wrestler of the Year. He is ranked No. 8 in the nation at 125 pounds and is 27-5 overall. Boyle is the seventh student-athlete in UTC history to grab the SoCon Wrestler of the Year award, and the first since Cody Cleveland (2008-11) in 2009. Boyle is the first 125-pounder to earn the award since The Citadel's Ryan McClester in 2004. He is in his first and only, season at Chattanooga after transferring from Michigan.
FOUR MOCS MAKE THE ALL-SOCON TEAM Boyle was joined on the All-SoCon team by Senior Nick Soto (133), sophomore Michael Pongracz (141) and sophomore Scottie Boykin (197). It is the fourth honor for Soto and the second for Boykin. Justin Lampe (165) was named to the SoCon All-Freshman squad.
CLOSE LOSSES Five of the Mocs six losses have been very close matches. Four have been by four points or less and only at No. 22 Old Dominion and at No. 1 Iowa did UTC not win at least five individual matches.
MOCS VS. THE SOCON The Mocs are 35-1 in SoCon action in six seasons under current head coach Heath Eslinger. The lone loss was a 17-25 setback at home to Appalachian State on Feb. 5, 2012. Since then, UTC has won 21-straight league matches.
SOTO CLIMBING CAREER WINS CHART Senior Nick Soto is 111-35 in his career at UTC. He is currently sixth on UTC's all-time wins. He is one behind Charlie Buckshaw (1986-89) and three behind Charlie Heard (1982-84). He will have to go on a strong run to end the season to catch head coach Heath Eslinger who was 120-18 from 1996-00. Michael Keefe (2002-07) has the school record with a 134-40 career tally.
SOTO TRYING TO BECOME FOUR-TIME CHAMP Senior Nick Soto already has three SoCon titles in his personal trophy case. He won the 133 championship as a freshman and junior, and 125 as a sophomore. Only three other Mocs have won four SoCon titles in their career, including Charlie Buckshaw (1986-89), Bret Gustafson (1988, 1990-92) and Pat Murhphy (1980-83).