By Shawna O’Neal, Chattanooga, TN—The UTC wrestling team is now 2-1 for an overall record after opening their season on the road last Saturday.
The Mocs first traveled to Charlottesville, Va., Saturday to go head to head against Ohio, Anderson and Virginia.
“We had a great day up in Charlottesville,” head coach Heath Eslinger told gomocs.com. “We went 2-1 in duals knocking off Ohio and Anderson and taking a tough lose to a very very good Virginia team.”
Chattanooga started out the day strong with the victories against both Ohio (21-12) and Anderson.
Ohio had to forfeit the 125 category, landing sophomore Nick Soto, from Spring Hill, Fla., a win and putting Chattanooga in the lead.
Freshman Marvin Lopez, from Cleveland, Tenn., landed a 7-1 win at 133 for his collegiate debut during the match against Ohio, while teammate senior Dean Pavlou, also from Cleveland, Tenn., had a 6-1 victory at 141. Lopez and Pavlou put Chattanooga ahead 12-0.
Ohio fought back as junior Alex Hudson, from Marietta, Ga., lost 8-3 against Andrew Romanchik at 149.
Sophomore Kevin Malone, from Carrollton, Ohio, also lost a close 3-1 match against number nine Jeremy Johnson in the 285 category.
“Some guys looked tough and we lost some matches against Ohio, but all in all we saw our guys competiting hard and feel good about the direction and where we are headed from this point,” Eslinger told gomocs.com.
It did not take long for the Mocs to respond with sophomore Trey Stavrum’s, from Chattanooga, 3-1 win at 157. Stavrum’s winning takedown happened with just 20 seconds left in the match.
Sending Chattanooga into a far lead were seniors Robert Prigmore, from Westlake, Texas, and Niko Brown, from Kissimmee, Fla.
“Niko Brown against the University of Virginia had a huge win.” Eslinger told gomocs.com. “He looked really good.”
Prigmore’s match was at 184 versus Ryan Garringer, 18-9. Teammate Brown won 21-9 against opponent Phillip Wellington at 197.
Chattanooga did not hold back for the match against Anderson later that day. They followed up with a 37-6 win.
Anderson kept it a close call with early winning two of the first four matches; with the Mocs leading 10-6, Stavrum’s victory at 157 against Kevin Johnson, 14-6, sending Chattanooga into a large lead.
Freshman Alex Ward, a Chattanooga native, and sophomore Jared Presley, from Harrison, Ohio, were the only two Mocs to lose their matches. Ward lost to Zachary Hale 6-3 in the 133 category. Presley fell to Anderson’s Dan Telhada 10-6 at 149.
After some tough competition, Chattanooga lost to No. 16 Virginia 26-9 for the last match of the day.
Only Pavlou, Brown and Malone won their matches, 6-3 at 141, 26-6 at 197, and 26-9 at 285 respectively.
Chattanooga continued on to Salem, Va., as the team participated in the Hokie Open to wrap up the opening weekend.
“The guys did a great job and competed hard from 125 to heavyweight,” Eslinger told gomocs.com. “I felt like our kids got out and got after it.”
Ranked No. 14 in the nation, Soto recorded four wins on his way to the championship match. His first win was over King College’s Tanner Bates, followed by North Carolina’s Brian Bokoski and Appalachian State’s Dominic Parisi.
“He made a big sacrifice going down to 125 to pursue a national championship and he did a great job,” Eslinger said.
Soto’s biggest win of the competition was his championship match against No. 6 in the nation, Virginia Tech’s Jarrod Garnett. Soto landed a 10-9 victory. This was Soto’s third win over a top-10 wrestler in his career.
Soto was not the only Moc to perform well at the Hokie Open. In the 141-pound category, Pavlou advanced to the semifinals but lost to The Citadel’s Undrakhbayer Khishgnyam 8-3. But he fought back to advance to the third place match after beating Rutger’s two-time NCAA Qualifier Trevor Melde. Pavlou fell 19-2 to UNC’s 20th ranked Evan Henderson.
“Pavlou looked good all day and lost to some really tough kids,” Eslinger told gomocs.com.
Advancing to the quarterfinals was Stavrum at 157 before losing to Rutger’s ninth-ranked Scott Winston 11-3.
Brown was the last Moc to place in the competition. He finished in third in the 197-pound bracket.
“It was a good day for Chattanooga wrestling,” Eslinger told gomocs.com. “We do have some things we need to work on. We will get back in there and work on the things we need to work on and be ready for next weekend.”
Chattanooga will travel to participate in the Wolfpack Open in Raleigh, N.C. Sunday Nov. 4. They will then open up their home schedule Friday Nov. 16 in Maclellan Gym where they will go up against Cumberland and Iowa. The matches will begin at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.