The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team will welcome an incoming class of 11 when classes resume in late August.
In the early signing period, the Mocs secured signatures from Ohio’s Austin Sams, Cleveland’s Marvin Lopez and Florida’s Nick Soto and added to that list in the spring with Hunter Barnes of Gilmer County, Ga., John Lampe of Louisville, Ky., and Alex Kooser of Dayton, Ohio.
It’s expected that Sams will compete at 141 pounds, Lopez and Soto at 133, Kooser at 149, Lampe at 165 and Barnes at 197.
Coach Heath Eslinger also has commitments from Heritage’s Cory Canada, Bradley Central’s Ethan Hames, Nashville Hunters Lane’s Josue Brown, Jesse Beaver of Murphy, N.C., and Cole Gallagher from Maryland. Eslinger can’t comment on those five yet, but of the six signees he said, “It’s another class that fits our vision and our system. We are after kids that represent the total package. We wanted well-rounded students who will fit within the wrestling team academically, athletically and socially.”
He indicated that a handful of the incoming wrestlers might have a shot at first-year varsity competition although the Mocs have starters or former starters returning at most weight classes. Those include Bucky Johnson (125), Prescott Garner (133), Shawn Greevy (141), Dean Pavlou (149), Josh Condon (157), Dan Waddell (165), Brandon Wright (174), Jake Young (184), Niko Brown (197) and Kevin Malone (285).
“These [newcomers] are fortunate that they are walking into a room with maturity and leadership that will be a good training ground,” Eslinger said. “We’re challenging each to come in with the mindset of earning a job. We’re not bringing them in to be practice partners but to win matches.”
Sams is a two-time Ohio state medalist, finishing third and fifth, and Kooser had a career record of 140-39 at Oakwood High and was a two-time Division II state place-winner. Barnes, who wrestled at 171 pounds, had a senior season record of 48-0 with 45 pins and is a two-time state champion. Lampe is a Kentucky state champion from St. Xavier.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765.
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 ...