published Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Chattanooga Mocs rally past Ohio University during wrestling match

UTC's Kelly Felix, left, holds onto Brad Squire of Ohio University during Monday's match at Maclellan Gym.
UTC's Kelly Felix, left, holds onto Brad Squire of Ohio University during Monday's match at Maclellan Gym.
Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

(Meet started at 285 pounds)

125--Gabe Ramos (O) major dec. Blake Thomas, 11-0; 133--Nick Soto (UTC) dec. Jake Wojcik, 4-0; 141--Darrin Boing (O) major dec. Shawn Greevy, 14-6; 149--Kelly Felix (UTC) dec. Brad Squire, 13-9; 157--Dan Waddell (UTC) dec. Harrison Hightower, 2-0; 165--Brandon Wright (UTC) dec. Miles Chapman, 4-1; 174--Nick Purdue (O) pinned Levi Clemons, 2:17; 184--Robert Prigmore (UTC) dec. Rryan Garringer, 5-3; 197--Niko Brown (UTC) dec. Beau Wenger, 10-4; 285--Jeremy Johnson (O) dec. Kevin Malone, 3-2.

Records: UTC 3-2; Ohio University 1-3

A team that has come close to sending its coaches kicking and screaming over the edge came up clawing and scratching Monday evening.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestlers battled their way back into contention and then snatched an unlikely 18-17 victory from visiting Ohio University.

"They had beat us at 157 in the Hokie Open, and [wins at] 165 and 184 were big," UTC coach Heath Eslinger said.

His Mocs, down by as many as eight points, took the lead on Brandon Wright's 4-1 victory at 165 immediately following Dan Waddell's 2-0 decision at 157.

They immediately fell back behind by five on a pin by Ohio's 13th-ranked Nick Purdue at 174, but Robert Prigmore, coming off a tournament championship at the Davidson Open last weekend, got the Mocs within striking distance with a 5-3 decision.

That set the stage for Niko Brown.

The only UTC starter unbeaten in dual meet competltion (5-0), Brown led from the outset with a takedown 44 seconds into his 197-pound match with Beau Wenger. A junior from Kissimmee, Fla., Brown gave up a reverse but then outscored the Bobcats junior 5-2 to lead 7-3 after the first three minutes. He rode Wenger the entire second period to pick up a riding time point and got a third-period takedown late to ice a 10-4 win.

"Niko's a 'steady Eddie,' but it's nice to see him getting after it in the first period," said 149-pound teammate Kelly Felix, who won a high-scoring brawl 13-9.

Felix's win over Bard Squire started a three-match surge that put the Mocs (3-2) up 12-11.

"Kelly gives us the same consistent performance every time out," Eslinger said.

After Waddell avenged his Hokie Open loss to Harrison Hightower, Wright gave the Mocs their first lead.

"They think sometimes I'm hollering at them just because I'm mad at them," Eslinger said, brushing aside the one-point win. "It was a good win for the team, but I'm as mad now as I have been earlier this season. We have to score more points. We have to be more confident and aggressive early."

The coach pointed out that the meet might have wound up deadlocked if not for the fight offered by fill-in Blake Thomas, a freshman from Brentwood who's keeping the 125-pound seat warm until transfer Manny Ramirez becomes eligible with the start of the second semester. Thomas surrendered a major decision but kept himself out of a technical fall and a pin by fighting off his back once in the first period and again in the second.

Eslinger also was encouraged by the performance of Kevin Malone. The freshman heavyweight lost 3-2 to the Bobcats' fifth-ranked Jeremy Johnson, but he improved on a 5-1 loss to Johnson at the Hokie Open.

UTC will wrestle Sunday at No. 11 Illinois and then will take a brief respite before hosting the Southern Scuffle Jan. 1-2 at McKenzie Arena.

Contact Ward Gossett at or 423-886-4765.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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