UTC 37, DAVIDSON 7
(Meet started at 125 pounds)
125 -- Nick Soto (UTC) won by forfeit; 133 -- Anthony Elias (D) major dec. Marvin Lopez, 13-3; 141 -- Dean Pavlou (UTC) pinned Sejiro Littleton, 1:11; 149 -- Alex Hudson (UTC) major dec. Kevin Birmingham, 13-1; 157 -- Trey Stavrum (UTC) dec. Nathaniel Powers, 6-0; 165 -- Christopher Cirenza (D) dec. Parker Smith, 10-8; 174 -- John Lampe (UTC) dec. Ian Solcz, 9-3; 184 -- Robert Prigmore (UTC) dec. Scott Patrick, 2-1; 197 -- Niko Brown (UTC) won by forfeit; 285 -- Kevin Malone (UTC) pinned Jordan Ownbey, 1:06.
Records: UTC 8-6, 4-0; Davidson 6-10, 1-4.
The University of Tennessee won convincingly Sunday, hammering visiting Davidson 37-7 at Maclellan Gym.
While their fourth Southern Conference wrestling win was convincing on the scoreboard, the overall performance was not -- at least the Mocs coach Heath Eslinger.
The Mocs, though, knew it before Eslinger had a chance to offer a critique to the team.
"A couple were a little down, but we haven't slowed down our training or anything," senior 141-pounder Dean Smith said. "We're training strong for the conference and national tournaments. The crowd (349) was down a little but when it's that way you have to find that excitement inside yourself. It's easy to get up when there are a thousand fans in the stands screaming for you."
Eslinger saw the bright spots -- that 4-0 conference record and the team's fourth straight victory along with some quality individual performances -- but there were crucial spots when he wanted his wrestler to step up and they fell short of the challenge.
He specifically talked about 133 pounds, manned by his former Cleveland protege Marvin Lopez, and 165 pounds, where freshman Parker Smith was filling in for Josh Condon.
"You have to deliver when it's delivery time. It can't be yesterday or later this afternoon or tomorrow," the coach said. "When you go out there and shake hands you have to be able to deliver, and we didn't in a couple of spots and I have to figure out why."
Lopez fell below .500 (9-10) with a major decision loss to muscular Davidson sophomore Anthony Elias.
"He has to deliver. He's good enough, but he's not coming through. Offense? He had it against Illinois and it's there in the practice room. He has to figure it out," Eslinger said.
Smith had a convincing 6-1 lead that melted away quickly in the third period. He regained the lead but the lost it again and dropped a 10-9 decision to Christopher Direnza.
"He got tired and didn't know how to handle it," the coach said. "We gave him a great opportunity, and he needed to maximize that opportunity."
Eslinger wasn't exactly at his best physically, either, trying to keep his health while helping wife, Brandi, with four sick babies.
"But I came ready to deliver," he said.
There were some deliveries form the Mocs including first-period pins from Pavlou and heavyweight Kevin Malone, and Alex Hudson's physically dominating 13-1 major decision of Kevin Birmingham.
Along the way, Trey Stavrum (157), John Lampe (174) and Robert Prigmore picked up decisions as the Mocs took eight of the 10 matches.
"Dean looked good again, and it was good to see Kevin with a pin. Hudson and Trey looked good and Lampe looked all right. There were some OK spots but you have 10 guys, though, and I have to get 10 guys that will deliver consistently," Eslinger said.
Neither Nick Soto (125) nor Niko Brown (197) actually wrestled, both get wins via forfeits. It was the 71st career win and 24th this season for Soto, who leads the team in victories. His five-match win streak is also a squad best. Soto improved to 21-6 on the year and is four wins shy of 50 for his career although just in his second year.
Pavlou needs one more win to hit 20.
The Mocs now have 13 days of training before hosting VMI and SIU-Edwardsville on Feb. 23. Their last conference match, on which the regular-season SoCon crown might hinge, is on Feb. 25. The conference tournament is March 9 in Lexington, Va.
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 ...