By Shawna O’Neal, Chattanooga, TN—The Chattanooga wrestling Mocs brought the action home to a sold out crowd in Maclellan Gym Nov. 16 for the
Chattanooga Duals competition.
This was the first sellout for a match in the newly renovated arena and it was also the largest crowd for a dual match ever recorded at UTC.
“I want to give a big thanks to the community for coming out we had a big crowd tonight,” head coach Heath Eslinger said. “I hope people will come back out when we wrestle Illinois and when we wrestle our conference schedule. This was a great day though.”
The Mocs split their matches against Cumberland and No. 2 ranked Iowa, starting out strong before falling in the finale.
Chattanooga started the evening out strong with a 49-0 shutout finish against the Cumberland Bulldogs. The Mocs quickly jumped ahead taking a 6-0 lead after a first-period pin by Nick Soto, the No. 9 ranked sophomore from Spring Hill, Fla., in the 125-pound category.
Scoring a pin over Zeke Hunt in the first period was junior Jake Young, from Ooltewah, Tenn., in his first home match since 2010.
Continuing strong, Chattanooga’s Niko Brown, a senior from Kissimmee, Fla., pinned Cumberland’s Joe Gallegos within 11 seconds of the 197-pound match making the crowd go wild.
For the heavyweight category, sophomore Kevin Malone, from Carrollton, Ohio, finished the match with a first period pin.
The Mocs then continued the evening with the match against the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes.
Iowa started out strong, the Mocs losing any chance of an early upset. Alex Hudson, a junior Marietta, Ga. native, finally got Chattanooga up on the board with an 8-2 decision over the Hawkeye’s Brody Grothus in the 149-pound category.
With the crowd on their feet, the Mocs looked like they were going to pull out another win from Young after leading 5-1 in the second period.
Instead he gave up an escape and takedown right before the buzzer rang against Grant Gambrell. Gambrell managed to tie up the match 5-5 in the third period before snatching the 7-5 win after a takedown late in the period.
Brown had the match of the night at 197 against Tomas Lira. Brown scored two takedowns to manage an early 4-2 lead in the first period. Lira responded with his own takedown, but Brown beat the buzzer escaping leaving the score 5-4.
For the start of the second period, Brown notched another takedown, increasing his lead 8-4 before another takedown boosted him to a 10-6 lead after five minutes of action.
Brown improved 14-1 on the season after defeated Iowa’s Lira 10-7.
“I think we left some on the table tonight and you never want to do that,” Eslinger said. “But they’re a great team, I guess if we’re realistic that’s what they were supposed to do to us but it’s just not what we want to accept. We do not train to get beat we train to win and that’s the bottom line. I don’t care who it is I don’t like it and its frustrating.
The Chattanooga Mocs will be back in action Dec. 14 for a road trip to Princeton before heading on to Madison Square Garden to participate in the Grappie at the Garden Dec. 16.
“I think we saw some areas where we need to get better,” Eslinger said. “The last three weeks of competition really provided us an education in areas we need to work on and now we have three or four weeks to actually get back in the practice room and get better. We have great kids on this team right now that I believe will bounce back and we’ll move forward.”
The wrestlers will not be back in Maclellan Gym until the Southern Scuffle Jan. 1-2.