The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team heads to Boone, N.C., for the 2011 Southern Conference Championships this weekend. The Mocs won the SoCon regular season for the seventh year in a row this season. UTC posted a perfect 5-0 mark in league action and finished with an 11-9 overall record. The championships are being held at the Holmes Convocation Center on the campus of Appalachian State University. The preliminary matches will begin Saturday, March 5 at 11:00 a.m. (E.S.T.), with the finals taking place at 7:00 p.m. All ten weight class champions receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Live video of the finals and the awards presentations will be available on GoMocs.com. A link to the live video is located on the wrestling schedule page on GoMocs.com.*
The Mocs have had a tremendous amount of success in SoCon action during the regular season. UTC has won 35 consecutive league matches and has not lost to a league opponent since a 27-13 set-back at The Citadel on Feb. 14, 2004. Despite this impressive run, Chattanooga finished in a disappointing fourth place at last year's tournament.*
Last year's Southern Conference Wrestling Championship was held in Davidson, N.C. Upsets were prevalent as the championship unveiled and UNCG earned its first outright SoCon wrestling championship, snapping UTC's five-year winning streak with 81.5 points and three individual champions.
Chattanooga's line-up will consists of five former SoCon Champions, including sophomore Dean Pavlou (Cleveland, Tenn.) who is trying to repeat at 149. Junior Demetrius Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.) won the 2009 title at 125, but has moved up to 133. Senior Cody Cleveland (Tullahoma, Tenn.) is going for his third trophy at 141, having won the event in 2008 and 2009.*
Junior Dan Waddell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) was the 149 champion in 2009, but is competing at 165. Finally, junior Jason McCroskey (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) won at 174 in 2009 and has also moved up to 184 this season.
Cleveland at 141, junior Brandon Wright (Germantown, Tenn.) at 174 and sophomore Josh Condon (Powder Springs, Ga.) at 157 all hold No. 1 seeds in their weight classes.*
125: Prescott Garner (So. - 18-12, 3-2 SoCon)
133: Demetrius Johnson (Jr. - 3-1, 3-1 SoCon)
141: No. 9 Cody Cleveland (Sr. - 11-0, 5-0 SoCon)
149: Dean Pavlou (So. - 13-10, 3-0 SoCon)
157: Josh Condon (So. - 21-6, 4-0 SoCon)
165: Dan Waddell (Jr. - 14-10, 3-2 SoCon)
174: Brandon Wright (Jr. - 9-10, 5-0 SoCon)
184: Jason McCroskey (Jr. - 22-8, 4-1 SoCon)
197: Niko Brown (So. - 18-8, 4-1 SoCon)
285: Matt Lettner (Sr. - 7-11, 0-1 SoCon)
Head coach Heath Eslinger is in his second year at Chattanooga. The former Moc and 2000 SoCon Wrestler of the Year, has a 22-16 overall mark leading the UTC program.
Sophomore Prescott Garner (West Linn, Ore.) is the No. 3 seed behind UNCG's Manuel Ramirez and VMI's Jonathan Pope. Garner is among the team leaders with an 18-12 overall record, but was just 3-2 in SoCon action.*
Garner lost to Ramirez in a close 7-6 decision at UNCG on Feb. 5. He also dropped his regular season finale to Pope in a 10-8 decision on Feb. 20. Five of his remaining nine losses were to opponents ranked in the top-10.
Junior Demetrius Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.) is back in the lineup after missing most of the season with a knee injury. He finished the regular season with a 3-1 mark at 133.
Johnson was the 2009 champion at 125 and is looking for his second trophy. He is currently seeded No. 2 behind UNCG's Jamel Johnson. Demetrius's lone loss of the year was a 5-2 decision in his first match back from injury to Jamel Johnson on Feb. 5.
Senior Cody Cleveland (Tullahoma, Tenn.) still leads the Mocs at 141. He is 11-0 on the year and ranked No. 9 in the nation. He has missed significant time this season with a number of injuries, but has hit his stride. Cleveland is closing out an outstanding career at UTC. The 2008 All-American is gunning for a third SoCon title and a return trip to the NCAA Tournament after winning at 141 in 2008 and 2009.
Cleveland has only lost one SoCon match in his impressive UTC career. That was his first league bout during his freshman season. He fell to UNC Greensboro's Chris Bencivenga 13-12 on Jan. 27, 2007. Since then, he is 19-0 against SoCon opponents with two league titles.*
Cleveland has a 72-24 record during his career at UTC and is eight wins shy of the top-10 all-time at UTC. He is the No. 1 overall seed after posting a 5-0 mark in SoCon action this season, earning him a spot on the All-SoCon team.
Sophomore Dean Pavlou (Cleveland, Tenn.) is looking for a repeat performance from 2010 when he won the SoCon title at 149. He is 13-10 overall, including wins in seven of his last nine matches.*
Pavlou finished 3-0 against SoCon opponents and is the No. 2 seed behind UNCG's Ivan Lopouchanski. Lopouchanski is currently ranked No. 16 in the nation with a 34-8 record and a 5-0 mark in SoCon action. Despite competing in the same weight class for the past two years, Pavlou and Lopouchanski have not faced each other on the mat.*
Sophomore Josh Condon (Powder Springs, Ga.) posted a 21-6 record this season, including a 4-0 mark in SoCon action. That powered him to an All-SoCon nod and the top-seed at 157 at the SoCon Championships.*
He did not face No. 3 seed John Blakely from Appalachian State during the regular season. Condon won three of his SoCon matches in close decisions and the fourth by forfeit.*
Junior Dan Waddell (Chattanooga., Tenn.) moved up to 165 where he is 8-5 overall and 3-2 in league matches. The 2009 SoCon Champ at 149 is returning to form after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury.*
Waddell is the No. 3 seed this weekend behind The Citadel's Turtogtokh Luvsandorj and ASU's Kyle Blevins. Luvansandorj is ranked No. 13 in the country with a 36-7 overall record, 5-0 in the SoCon. He is the 2011 SoCon Wrestler of the Year and won a 9-5 decision over Waddell on Jan. 30. Waddell also lost to Blevins 5-2 on Feb. 6.*
Junior Brandon Wright (Germantown, Tenn.) moved up to 174 in the middle of the season and finished with a perfect 5-0 mark in league matches.*
Wright earned All-SoCon accolades and is the No. 1 seed at 174 after posting a clean slate in conference matches. Three of his five wins were nail-biters, including a 5-3, overtime win over J.C. Oddo on Jan. 30. He defeated UNCG's Bryon Sigmon, the defending SoCon Champion, 3-2 on Feb. 5 and VMI's Matt Brock 3-1 on Feb. 20. Oddo is the No. 2 seed while Sigmon is third and Brock No. 4.
Junior Jason McCroskey (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) still has one year of eligibility remaining, but the fourth-year junior is making his final appearance at the SoCon Championships. He currently carries a 3.63 g.p.a., majoring in Engineering, and plans to graduate in May.
*A former SoCon Champion and the 2009 SoCon Freshman of the Year, McCroskey leads the team with a 22-8 record. He went 4-1 in the SoCon and has been in the top-20 this season.*
McCroskey earned the No. 2 seed behind ASU's Austin Troutman. Troutman defeated McCroskey in a 14-5 major decision on Feb. 6. It was one of only two matches where McCroskey gave up bonus points this season. If the two meet in the finals, McCroskey will be looking for his first win in three tries against Troutman over the last two seasons.*
Sophomore Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) has been very impressive with his 18-8 record this season. He is 4-1 in SoCon action with his lone loss coming in a 7-3 decision against UNCG's Caylor Williams.*
Williams secured the No. 1 spot while Brown is the second seed at 197.*
Senior heavyweight Matt Lettner (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) has fought through injuries throughout his career. He has recently battled a foot injury and is 7-12 this season.*
He lost his only SoCon match of the year to VMI's Josh Wine on Senior Day on Feb. 20. He will have to work his way up as the No. 6 seed this weekend.*
THREE MOCS NAMED TO THE ALL-SOCON TEAM
Three members of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team were named to the 2011 All-Southern Conference squad. Senior Cody Cleveland, junior Brandon Wright and sophomore Josh Condon all made repeat appearances on the team.*
Cleveland, a 2008 All-American, missed significant time this season with a number of injuries, but still managed to earn All-SoCon honors for the third time in his career. He finished the regular season 11-0, including a 5-0 mark in league matches.
Cleveland has only lost one SoCon match in his impressive UTC career. That loss come in his first league bout during his freshman season when he fell to UNC Greensboro's Chris Bencivenga 13-12 on Jan. 27, 2007. Since then, he is 19-0 against SoCon opponents with two league titles. Cleveland has a 72-24 record during his career and is eight wins shy of the top-10 all-time at UTC.*
After earning All-SoCon honors at 165 in 2010, Wright moved up to 174 midway through this season. He finished with a perfect 5-0 record in league action at 174 to earn his second all-conference award. He finished the year 9-10 overall but was 5-4 at 174. Since transferring to UTC from Missouri in 2009, Wright is 11-1 in SoCon matches.
Condon is second on the team with 21 wins against six losses at 157. He went 4-0 in SoCon action to earn his second all-conference honors. For his career, he is 7-0 in the SoCon.
TWO MOCS NAMED SOCON ALL-FRESHMEN
Levi Clemmons (Kissimmee, Fla.) and Shawn Greevy (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) represented the Mocs on the SoCon All-Freshman team. Clemmons spent time in the lineup at 174 as a true freshman before Wright took over. Greevy, another true freshman, filled in for Cleveland at 141 and posted a 7-5 record.*
WRIGHT NAMED WRESTLER OF THE WEEK
Junior Brandon Wright was been named Southern Conference Wrestler of the Week for all competitions from February 2-8. He scored a 3-2 win over two-time defending SoCon Champion Bryon Sigmon in the Mocs' furious comeback victory against UNC Greensboro on Feb. 5. He followed that up with a 14-5 major decision over Appalachian State's Carter Downs on Feb. 6. The win clinched the Mocs' 27-10 victory in Boone.
MCCROSKEY NAMED STUDENT-ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Junior Jason McCroskey (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) was been named the Southern Conference Student-Athlete of the Week for February 9. McCroskey capped the Mocs' comeback in a 20-18 win over UNC Greensboro with a pin over Elijah Adams over the weekend. Chattanooga fell behind 15-5 after the first five matches, but fought its way back to 15-14 with McCroskey set to take the mat in the 184 pound match. At the 2:54 mark, McCroskey put Adams on his back to seal Chattanooga's 32nd-straight SoCon regular season win. McCroskey is a two-time Academic All-SoCon and two-time Academic All-NWCA honoree. He holds a 3.63 GPA in engineering. The SoCon Student-Athlete of the Week is given to individuals with at least a 3.2 g.p.a. who have excelled in competition during their championship seasons.*
MOCS INK TOP-25 RECRUITING CLASS
The Mocs have inked one of the top-25 early-season recruiting classes according to Wrestling Insider News (WIN) magazine. Chattanooga received its top-25 ranking thanks to four prep wrestlers who signed National Letters of Intent in November. This group is highlighted by three high school state champions, including Marvin Lopez (Cleveland, Tenn.), William Kennedy (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Nick Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) and also includes Fairfield, Ohio, native Austin Sams.*
MOCS PICKED 2ND IN THE SOCON POLLS
Despite carrying a six-year, 30-match SoCon duals win streak into the season the Mocs were picked second in the preseason polls behind UNC Greensboro. UTC earned two first-place votes and 21 points overall in the balloting. UNCG took the top spot with four first place votes and 23 points. The Mocs are followed by Appalachian State (16), The Citadel (16), VMI (8) and Davidson (6).*
Chattanooga also had three preseason all-conference wrestlers on the squad, including two-time SoCon champion Cody Cleveland at 141 pounds. Cleveland, the SoCon champion at 141 and Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler in both 2008 and '09 as well as the 2009 SoCon Co-Wrestler of the Year, missed the majority of last season with an injury. Chattanooga's Dean Pavlou (149) and Dan Waddell (157) were also voted to the preseason all-league team.
IT'S ALL IN THE NAME
On first reference, it is acceptable to refer to us as the "University of Tennessee at Chattanooga". After that, we prefer to be called "Chattanooga" or "UTC". Our nickname is "Mocs".