Chattanooga mopped up accolades this past week through a multitude of Southern Conference competitions in North Carolina.
As the women’s basketball squad punched their ticket to the big dance, and the men’s making a run to the finals, Mocs’ wrestlers Brayden Palmer and Rocky Jordan crowned themselves as SoCon champions at the 2023 SoCon Wrestling Championships.
Palmer, at 133 pounds, adds to his trophy cabinet with his first-ever SoCon championship win. The sophomore entered the tournament as the third seed within the weight class. After a 4-0 win over Davidson’s Jackson Sichelstiel, Palmer would face off with the top two seeds in the weight class who defeated Palmer in the regular season.
Revenge can be sweet, and that was the case for the sophomore. Palmer would come away with a 3-1 win over Campbell’s Domenic Zaccone to enter the finals. He would meet the 24th ranked Ethan Oakley of Appalachian State, the top seed in the tournament, for the SoCon crown.
After overcoming an early deficit, Palmer would score a takedown to take the lead. After battling with Oakley in the third frame, Palmer would come off the mat as the champion with a 4-3 win and earn the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler Award.
"Getting the championship is nice, but I was just as happy getting revenge on the two guys who beat me earlier in the year," said Palmer. "I liked being the three seed. I felt like there was less pressure being the underdog. It was nice to come away with a title after coming up short and getting second last year."
The win officially punched Palmer’s ticket to the NCAA Wrestling Championships. This will make the sophomore’s second appearance at the NCAA Tournament.
Rocky Jordan, wrestling in the 174-pound weight class, was the top seed entering the tournament. He quickly asserted his dominance with a pin against Gardner-Webb’s Andrew Wilson and a 13-0 decision over Davidson’s Jaden Hardrick.
His opponent in the finals would pose more of a problem. Appalachian State’s Will Miller would take Jordan the distance but could not escape Jordan in the final frame. With a 4-2 win, Jordan earned the title as SoCon champion and enters the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
"It wasn't my best performance overall in the finals, but I was happy getting a tough, gritty win," said Jordan. "I had to ride him for close to five minutes and that is tough to do against a guy like that. Two weeks from now in Tulsa, it is going to take a win like that to get on the podium."
Overall, Chattanooga finished third in the SoCon tournament (52.0) behind Campbell (78.5) and Appalachian State (103.0).
The celebration does not stop there as the NCAA’s announcement of at-large selections places Chattanooga’s Matthew Waddell into the NCAA Wrestling Championships. In total, three Mocs will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a shot at a national championship.
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