Chattanooga Mocs are strong Wolfpack Open

Chattanooga Mocs are strong Wolfpack Open

November 12th, 2012 by Ward Gossett in Sports - College

UTC wrestling head coach Heath Eslinger

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

Five finalists and two champions and coach Heath Eslinger saw ways where his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga team could have gotten another medal or two.

Wrestling in the Wolfpack Open at North Carolina State, Mocs Niko Brown (197) and Josh Condon (165) came away with championships while Nick Soto (125), Dean Pavlou (141) and Levi Clemons (174) finished as runners-up.

"It was a good day," Eslinger said. "I think, though that we left some [medals] on the table. I thought we had a few other guys that could've placed."

The Mocs took 20-plus competitors but a handful of starters were held out, each nursing a minor injury that coaches didn't want to aggravate with the Iowa meet -- the Mocs' home opener -- scheduled Friday.

Those held out were Alex Hudson (149), Jake Young (174), Sean Mappes (165) and Kevin Malone (285).

"Holding them out was precautionary. They'll all be good to go this week," Eslinger said.

So for the Mocs' day at Raleigh, Eslinger left feeling pretty good, especially considering that they're only in the second weekend of the season.

"Niko looked awesome. He's really turned up his game. I think he is really beginning to trust in his abilities and his work," Eslinger said. "Condon continues to do the right things and he wrestled a great tournament."

Condon, wrestling unattached for this semester, is expected to step into the Mocs' lineup at 157 in January, but Trey Stavrum isn't going to let it just happen.

"Trey didn't medal. He had a couple of tough matches but he is probably the most improved wrestler on the team," Eslinger said.

Soto's match was just another learning experience and the coach was anything but disheartened.

"Right now no win is too important and no loss is that big at this time. For Nick it's a matter of him getting the most [education] from every opportunity," Eslinger said.

Eslinger also pointed to the runner-up finish of Levi Clemons, who lost to 2011-2012 All-American Kyle Blevins, 3-0, in the championship match. Blevins, who wrestled for Appalachian State last year, is now a graduate assistant at Gardner-Webb.

UTC's other medalists were Marvin Lopez, who finished sixth, losing the fifth-place medal to ex-Baylor standout Zach Watson, now a freshman at Virginia; John Lampe (sixth, 165) and Jared Johnson (sixth, 197).