Six Mocs Head to NCAA Championships
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team heads to the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 17-19. The event will be held in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. The Championships are hosted by Rider University and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Selected matches at the Championships will broadcast live on ESPN3.com and ESPNU. Below is the full schedule of sessions, along with the broadcast information:
Thursday, March 17
Session 1 - 1st Round - ESPN3.com - 11:00 a.m.
Session 2 - 2nd Round and Consolation Rounds - ESPN3.com - 6:30 p.m.
Friday, March 18
Session 3 - Quarterfinals and Consolation Rounds - ESPNU HD/ESPN3.com - 10:30 a.m.
Session 4 - Semifinals - ESPNU HD - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 19
Session 5 - Medal Rounds - ESPNU HD - 11:00 a.m.
Session 6 - Finals - ESPN HD/ESPN3.com (simulcast) - 7:30 p.m.
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".
The Mocs will send six wrestlers to the NCAAs, including Demetrius Johnson (133), Cody Cleveland (141), Josh Condon (157), Brandon Wright (174), Jason McCroskey (184) and Niko Brown (197). Brown was an at-large selection while Cleveland, Condon, Johnson and Wright all qualified by winning a Southern Conference title. McCroskey finished second at the SoCon Championships, but the league had two automatic bids at 184.*
DEMETRIUS JOHNSON ? 133 ? JUNIOR
Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.) will make his second trip to the NCAAs after winning the SoCon's 133 title. His previous trip was at 125 in 2009 where he lost both of his matches. Johnson missed most of the season with a knee injury, but returned for the SoCon portion of the Mocs' schedule. He has a 5-1 mark and is riding a five-match winning streak.*
Johnson will open against Hofstra's Lou Ruggirello, the No. 5 seed in the tournament. Ruggirello has won 14-straight matches, including his fourth consecutive CAA title. He is also making his fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament.*
CODY CLEVELAND ? 141 ? SENIOR
Cleveland (Tullahoma, Tenn.), a 2008 All-American, won his third SoCon title at 141. He missed significant time this season with an injury but is 13-0 and ranked in the top-10 in the nation. He is making his third appearance at the NCAA Championships.
Cleveland is actually on a 21-match winning streak and has not lost since the 2009 NCAAs. He was 8-0 in Nov. 2010 when he suffered a knee injury at the Indiana Duals that put him out of action for the next year.*
He went 4-2 at the NCAAs during his All-American run through the wrestlebacks in 2008. He was 0-2 in a return trip in 2009. After missing 2010 with an injury, Cleveland is looking to snap a three-match losing streak at the national tournament.*
Cleveland opens against Oklahoma's Zack Bailey, the No. 8 seed in the tournament. He owns a 3-0 record over Bailey, winning their most recent meeting by technical fall over two years ago on Jan. 11, 2009. He also defeated Bailey twice in 2008, once in a dual competition (MD, 14-6) and another in the NCAA Tournament (D, 14-13).*
Cleveland also defeated Michigan's Kellen Russell (D, 5-0) at the 2008 NCAAs. Russell is the No. 1 seed at this year's tournament and a possible quarterfinal matchup.*
JOSH CONDON ? 157 ? SOPHOMORE
Condon (Powder Springs, Ga.) was the top-seed at 157 at the SoCon Tournament and lived up to the billing. A two-time All-SoCon selection, Condon will be making his first trip to the NCAA Tournament. He is tied for the team lead in wins and has a 23-6 overall record.
Condon's first match is against Buffalo's Matt Lewandowski. Condon is 2-2 against other 157-pounders in the bracket. He beat Gardner-Webb's Alex Medved 6-1 on Nov. 20. His next match was a pin over UNC's Corey Mock at the ACC Challenge on Nov. 21. Both of his losses came to fourth-seeded Bubba Jenkins of Arizona State.*
BRANDON WRIGHT ? 174 ? JUNIOR
Wright's (Germantown, Tenn.) advancement to the NCAAs is impressive considering where he started the year. He moved up a weight to make room for junior Dan Waddell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) in the lineup, but lost his first four matches at 174. However, he stuck with it and was undefeated in regular season league bouts. He went on to win the SoCon Championship for the first time in his career.*
Wright kicks off his weekend against the No. 12 seed, Mike Benefiel from Oklahoma State. Wright is 0-3 against the field, with losses to Dorian Henderson (Missouri), Eric Starks (Arizona State) and Nick Purdue (Ohio).
JASON MCCROSKEY ? 184 ? JUNIOR
McCroskey (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) is the only Moc who went to each of the last two NCAAs. He is also tied for the team lead in wins with a 23-9 overall record at 184. He has spent time ranked in the top-20 this season and looks to advance deep into the bracket at the national championships.*
McCroskey went 2-2 at 184 in last year's championships. He won his opening round match before moving down to the wrestlebacks. He was 0-2 at 174 as a freshman in 2009.*
McCroskey will open against the No. 8 seed, Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota. He is 1-3 against the 184 bracket this season. His lone win was a 5-2 decision over Arizona State's Jake Meredith. He only lost by one (3-2) to Missouri's Mike Larson, but fell to Iowa's Grant Gambrell (4-0) and was pinned by Wyoming's Joe LeBlanc.*
NIKO BROWN ? 197 ? SOPHOMORE
Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) posted a 19-9 overall record at 197 and was runner-up at the 2011 Southern Conference Championships. He has won six of his last eight matches and three of his nine losses came against ranked opponents. He is the Mocs' lone at-large selection to the NCAAs.
Brown is set to take on Bucknell's Jay Hahn in the first round. He competed against a tough schedule that included seven matches against NCAA qualifiers. Brown went 2-5 against the field this season.*
MOCS AT THE NCAAS
Chattanooga has been represented at the NCAA Wrestling Championships every year since moving up to Division I in 1978. The Mocs' best finish was a tie for 14th in 1983. UTC has scored points every year except for 1997 and 2003. Chattanooga finished in 55th place with 2.5 points last season. UTC's second-best result came in 2007 when they came in 21st. They also tied for 21st in 2005.*
Individually, the Mocs have 12 All-American honors won by nine different wrestlers. Cody Cleveland was the last to earn All-American status, finishing eighth at 141 in 2008. The best individual finish was Charlie Heard's runner-up at 118 in 1983.*
SOCON CHAMPIONS AGAIN
The Mocs are coming off an 11-9 campaign that includes a perfect 5-0 mark in Southern Conference matches. UTC has won seven consecutive SoCon regular season titles and owns a 35-match winning streak in league action. Chattanooga won its sixth SoCon Tournament in the last seven years and its 27th in the 34 years as a member of the conference.
HEAD COACH HEATH ESLINGER
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. He is 10-0 in two seasons of SoCon matches and was named the 2011 Southern Conference Coach of the Year.*
THREE MOCS NAMED TO THE ALL-SOCON TEAM
Three members of the UTC 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 came 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.*
NCAA MOCS ALSO EXCEL IN THE CLASSROOM
Five of the six Mocs competing at the NCAA Championships were on the Athletics Director's Honor roll for posting a 3.0+ g.p.a. during the 2010 fall semester, including Cody Cleveland, Josh Condon, Demetrius Johnson, Jason McCroskey and Brandon Wright. Three of the six - Johnson, McCroskey, Wright - were on the Dean's List in the fall and have earned Academic All-NWCA honors in their careers.*
CLEVELAND NAMED SOCON WRESTLER OF THE MONTH
Senior Cody Cleveland was named the Southern Conference Wrestler of the Month for February 2011. A three-time SoCon champion, Cleveland was 4-0 in the month of February, all in league action. His strong February propelled him to an All-SoCon selection and the 2011 SoCon title at 141 pounds. Two of Cleveland's victories came via technical fall while a third was a major decision. He capped his UTC career with a 21-1 mark against Southern Conference opponents. His victories in the month of February enabled Chattanooga to wrap up its seventh consecutive regular season title while extending its conference win streak to 35 matches.
WRIGHT NAMED WRESTLER OF THE WEEK
Junior Brandon Wright was the 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 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.