The Chattanooga Mocs wrestling team is in 16th place after a record setting day at the Southern Conference. Today’s attendance of 2,894 is a new single-day high and the fifth day in the row the tournament has grown since coming to Chattanooga in 2012.
Fans were treated to some excellent wrestling throughout the early rounds. No. 2 Minnesota (53.5) leads the team race by just ½ a point over No. 1 Penn State (53.0). No. 4 Oklahoma State is right in the mix in third place with 50.5 points. No. 7 Cornell 40.0 and No. 14 Iowa State (39.5) round out the top-5.
Intermat posted updated top-20 individual rankings for each class today. Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett moved into No. 1 at 125, as did Oklahoma State’s Jon Morrison at 133. That gave the Scuffle field seven of the 10 top-ranked wrestlers in nation. The other five who stayed at No. 1 are Minnesota’s Nick Dardanes (149), Scott Schiller (197) and Tony Nelson (285) and Penn State’s David Taylor (165) and Ed Ruth (184).
All seven are still alive as most of the top seeds advanced to the quarterfinals. Only three top-4 seeds at any weight did not make it to the Round of 16. Penn’s Calet Richardson had the first big upset when he scored a 6-0 decision over No. 4 Corey Keener of Central Michigan at 125.
Navy’s Peyton Walsh upset 165’s No. 4 seed Michael Moreno (Iowa State) with a 3-1 decision. Cornell’s Michael Nevinger was No. 4 at 141, but forfeited his third round match against Kent State’s Tyler Small.
“It was a great opening day for the event,” stated UTC head coach Heather Eslinger. “You always want to do better, but I think our guys competed hard and the crowd was outstanding. To break a record for the fifth day in a row shows that this thing is really growing.”
The Mocs have six wrestlers competing on day two, led by junior Nick Soto. Soto entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed and is in the Round of 16 at 133. He opened with a technical fall against Army’s Austin Marsico (18-2) and followed that with a 4-0 win over Central Michigan’s Tyler Keselring. He eeked out a 3-2 decision over Oklahoma State’s Brian Crutchmer in the third round.
Soto will take on No. 3 seed David Thorn of Minnesota in tomorrow’s action. Thorn was the top seed in 2012 when Soto knocked him out with a 5-1 overtime win in the semifinals.
Freshman Michael Pongracz bounced back from an early loss to advance in the consolations. He fell to Cornell’s Eli Bienstock (5-3) in the first round, but came back with a 3-1 win over Navy’s Quentin Leadbetter. He finished his day with a 12-3 major decision over Duke’s Xaviel Ramos.
Junior Shawn Greevy is still alive in the consolations at 149. He lost to Stanford’s Donovan Halpin (4-3) in the first round, but scored two wins in the back draw.
Junior Levi Clemons had three wins on the day at 174. He opened with a 12-3 major decision over Kent State’s Mike Vollant. After losing in the second round, he did not give up a takedown in his two consolation wins.
Sophomore John Lampe also had three wins, opening with a 5-3 decision over North Carolina’s Michael Macchiavello. He was knocked out of the main draw by No. 6 seed Lawrence Thomas of Penn in a 7-4 decision. His two consolation wins were nail-biters, including an 8-7 decision over teammate Clay Dent and a 3-2 win against Army’s Ryan Tompkins. Lampe forced a stalling call against Tompkins with six seconds left to grab the win.
Freshman Scottie Boykin was impressive in his first Scuffle. After a 7-3 opening round win over Pittsburgh’s Ryan Solomon, he lost a 9-4 decision to Duke’s No. 11 seed Conner Hartman. He bounced back with two bonus-point wins in the backdraw, including a 16-1 technical fall against Cole Breigel (Northern Colorado) and a 19-7 major decision over Army’s Bryce Barnes.
“Scottie wrestled great,” stated head coach Heath Eslinger. “He is getting better and better every time he goes out. He is fun to watch and could go on a run tomorrow.”
Action begins at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday with the Championship Quarterfinals and the fourth round of consolations. The semifinals are at 1:30 p.m. with the Finals and Medal Matches at 7:00 p.m.