The driver didn't notice when the bus carrying the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team left Virginia Tech on Sunday, but the load was heavier.
And it seemed like more than a fistful of Hokie Open medals to the team. It could be the foundation for a quality season, the best in Heath Eslinger's four-year coaching tenure.
"I am really pleased overall although we definitely have some technical areas we can fix. That's the fun part," Eslinger said shortly after the Mocs embarked on their eight-hour return trip.
Nick Soto (125) led the pack with a first-place finish, Niko Brown (197) and Levi Clemons (174) took thirds, Dean Pavlou (141) was fourth, Jake Young (174) finished fifth and Josh Condon, who'll join the Mocs in January as a 157-pounder, was third at 165.
"A lot of the young kids wrestled well, and we competed hard up and down the lineup," Eslinger said. "We'll be back in the practice room Monday afternoon."
Mocs with at least three wins on the day were Soto, Brown, Pavlou, Austin Woods (149), Sean Mappes (165), Young and Kevin Malone (285).
All but one of the 20-plus contingent won at least one match.
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 ...