UTC wrestles twice in North Carolina

UTC wrestles twice in North Carolina

February 8th, 2014 by Ward Gossett in Sports - College

Appalachian State's Jake Smith (black) grapples with UTC's Michael Pongracz during a 141-pound bout at Maclellan Gym on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Smith won the bout despite suffering an arm injury.

Photo by C.B. Schmelter /Times Free Press.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's streaking Mocs will be in Buies Creek, N.C., tonight and at Davidson, N.C., on Sunday with the intention of clinching at least a tie for the Southern Conference regular-season wrestling championship.

UTC, which has won six dual meets in a row and seven of its last eight, will be trying to protect streaks against both Campbell and Davidson. The Mocs are 5-0 all-time against Campbell and 22-0 all-time versus Davidson. Also, the Mocs now have won 12 straight league matches and have a 26-1 SoCon record under coach Heath Eslinger.

After this weekend, UTC will have one conference meet to go at VMI.

Campbell is 4-0 in the SoCon.

"With your opponent also being undefeated in the league, all I have to say is we better be ready," Eslinger said.

He and his staff didn't make any major changes in the practice routine from last week, Eslinger backtracking on his comments immediately following Sunday's 35-8 victory over Appalachian.

"Once I watched the film, we weren't as flat as I thought," the coach said. "I was dwelling on one match, and I guess because of the [two] forfeits there didn't seem to be a whole lot of energy."

He did think that the consistency the Mocs have had most of the season was there, and he hopes that will continue.

"I think we need to create energy and score points. We have used our conditioning to our favor, and I'm not looking for anything different," Eslinger said. "We're doing well, and my job is to keep them focused and not mess it up."

UTC could have a lineup change at 125 pounds, going with Byron Smith over Campbell Lewis, but no other change is likely.

Austin Sams remains at 149 in place of injured Shawn Greevy. The rest of UTC's lineup has Nick Soto (133), Michael Pongracz (141), Alex Hudson (157), Corey Mock (165), Levi Campbell (174), John Lampe (184), Scottie Boykins (197) and Dawson Peck (285). Soto and Mock are ranked 11th nationally in their weight classes.

"It's like our Citadel match," Eslinger said of the Campbell meet. "If we wrestle great, it could be really good in our favor. If we're flat, it could get interesting."

UTC dumped The Citadel 27-12.

"This one seems to be more important because of timing. Both teams are undefeated in the conference so it's a big deal," Eslinger said.

Davidson is 0-4 in the conference and 4-11 overall.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.