SPARTANBURG, SC (gomocs.com) -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team was picked to win the Southern Conference Championship, according to the preseason coaches poll the league office released today. The Mocs grabbed 45 points and five first place votes in the listing.
Junior Sean Mappes was the lone Moc on the preseason All-SoCon team. He is the returning league champ at 174 pounds and posted a 17-12 overall record last season.
The coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams or student-athletes.
The Mocs have won three-straight SoCon regular season titles and 15 overall since the conference starting crowning a season winner in 1994. UTC has also won five straight tournament championships and 29 overall since joining the league in 1978.
Appalachian State was second in the preseason poll with 40 points and one first-place vote. The Mountaineers put a league-best three student-athletes on the preseason all-conference team. 2015 SoCon champions Mike Longo (141 pounds) and Denzel Dejournette (heavyweight) were preseason all-conference selections at those weights, while Vito Pasone, who wrestled at 133 last season, was the preseason pick at 125, where he wrestled for the majority of his redshirt freshman campaign.
The Citadel earned 35 points to edge Gardner-Webb for third in the preseason poll and saw Matt Frisch and Aaron Walker earn preseason recognition at 149 pounds and 157 pounds, respectively. Frisch has won SoCon titles at 149 (2015) and 157 (2013), while Walker has taken the title at 157 in each of the last two seasons.
Gardner-Webb was slotted fourth in the preseason poll with 34 points and the remaining two first-place votes. Campbell, which was ineligible for the 2015 tournament due to APR penalties, will return to the tournament this season and was picked fifth in the preseason poll with 28 points. The Camels saw Nathan Kraisser (133) and Ville Heino (184 pounds) earn spots on the preseason all-conference team.
SIUE finished sixth in the preseason voting with 22 points and put defending SoCon champions Connor McMahon (165) and Jake Tindle (197) on the preseason squad. McMahon was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the 2015 tournament after topping the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 seeds en route to winning the 165-pound title.
VMI (13 points) and Davidson (seven) round out the poll.
Five of the 10 preseason all-conference selections – Appalachian State's Longo and Dejournette, The Citadel's Walker, SIUE's Tindle and Chattanooga's Mappes – earned the maximum number of points possible in the voting process.
Be sure to check out the Blue-Gold match on Thursday, Oct. 29, at Maclellan Gym. The annual scrimmage is a FREE event and begins at 6:00 p.m.
The first official home dual is Saturday, Nov. 7, against No. 24 Stanford. Action begins at 11:00 a.m. in Maclellan Gym. Season tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
2015-16 SoCon Wrestling Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Chattanooga (5) - 45
2. Appalachian State (1) - 40
3. The Citadel - 35
4. Gardner-Webb (2) - 34
5. Campbell - 28
6. SIUE - 22
7. VMI - 13
8. Davidson - 7
2015-16 SoCon Wrestling Preseason All-Conference Team
125: Vito Pasone, Appalachian State
133: No. 19 Nathan Kraisser, Campbell
141: Mike Longo, Appalachian State*
149: Matt Frisch, The Citadel*^
157: No. 14 Aaron Walker, The Citadel*+
165: No. 20 Connor McMahon, SIUE*
174: Sean Mappes, Chattanooga*
184: Ville Heino, Campbell
197: Jake Tindle, SIUE*
285: No. 14 Denzel Dejournette, Appalachian State*