Five Mocs ready for wrestling nationals

Five Mocs ready for wrestling nationals

March 20th, 2014 by Ward Gossett in Sports - College

UTC wrestler Corey Mock is seeded sixth in the 165-pound weight class at the NCAA tournament, which begins today in Oklahoma City.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

Off to Oklahoma City

Levi Clemons

Jr., 174 pounds

Record: 26-13

How he arrived: SoCon champ

NCAA appearances, record: third

Opening opponent: No. 12 Tanner Weatherman (Iowa State/22-14)

If he wins: No. 5 Matthew Brown (Penn State/28-4) or Kyle Meyer (Stanford/26-11)

Alex Hudson

Sr., 157 pounds

Record: 30-7

How he arrived: SoCon runner-up

NCAA appearances, record: second

Opening opponent: No. 11 Taylor Walsh (Indiana/34-5)

If he wins: Austin Matthews (Clarion/22-7) or No. 6 Nestor Taffur (Boston University/35-2)

Corey Mock

Jr., 165 pounds

Record: 30-3

NCAA appearances, record: third

How he arrived: SoCon champ

Openihttp://www.timesfreepress.com/admin/news/story/270493/#ng opponent: Peyton Walsh (Navy/25-12)

If he wins: No. 11 Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (Citadel/35-6) or Dakota Friesth (Wyoming/28-8)

Dawson Peck

Fr., 285 pounds

Record: 14-3

How he arrived: At-large invitation

NCAA appearances: first

Opening opponent: No. 12 Spencer Myers (Maryland/23-4)

If he wins: No. 5 Bobby Telford (Iowa/22-5) or Anthony Viczarrondo (West Virginia/19-18)

Nick Soto

Jr., 133 pounds

Record: 33-9

How he arrived: SoCon champ

NCAA appearances, record: third

Opening opponent: Joey Palmer (Oregon State/19-10)

If he wins: No. 7 Cashe Quiroga (Purdue/16-6) or Dennis Gustafson (Va. Tech/24-13)

Other SoCon qualifiers

Appalachian: Dom Parisi (125), Dylan Cottrell (149)

Eloheim Palma (285).

The Citadel: Undrakhbayar Khishignyam (141), Matthew Frisch (149), Aaron Walker (157), Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (165) Marshall Haas (197)

Davidson: Kevin Birmingham (159), Donald Patrick (184)

Gardner-Webb: Austin Trott (165)

SIUE: David Devine (285)

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is positioned to take its biggest step in collegiate wrestling since Heath Eslinger arrived.

"We had three competitive goals at the five-year mark; one to have an All-American, two to have multiple All-Americans and three to have multi-year All-Americans," said Eslinger, who is in his fifth year as the Mocs' head coach. "We're at the point now where we have given ourselves a chance at those goals."

Chattanooga has five wrestlers -- two of them seeded among the top 10 in their respective weight classes -- in the field for the NCAA tournament, which opens at 11 o'clock this morning at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.

UTC wrestlers have earned All-American honors (finishing in the top eight in their weight class) a dozen times. The Mocs' last All-American was Cody Cleveland, who finished eighth at 141 pounds in 2008.

Corey Mock is seeded sixth at 165 pounds and Nick Soto 10th at 133 pounds. Each will be making his third trip to the nationals. Alex Hudson (157) and Levi Clemons (174) are making their second visits while Dawson Peck (285) is making his initial appearance.

This is the first time since 2009 (Cleveland, 11th; Matt Keller, fifth) and only the fifth time in school history that Chattanooga has had two seeded wrestlers in the championships.

"The two guys seeded in the top 10 are the best shots (for All-American honors). To come into this tournament unseeded, it's a very low percentage of those guys that medal. You could probably count on one hand the guys that come in unseeded and medal," said Mocs assistant Jon Soriedas, who earned All-America honors as a Moc in 2005.

Mock, the transfer from North Carolina, has had an outstanding season. He started 19-0 before losing to third-ranked Nick Sulzer of Virginia in early January. Now 30-3, he is coming off a Southern Conference championship that earned him the tournament's outstanding wrestler trophy.

"What happened last week is awesome, but that's last week," Mock said. "Being seeded doesn't mean all that much. There are 32 guys in the weight class that are nationally competitive. I know I have to wrestle my best each time out."

In winning his conference championship, Mock beat The Citadel's Turtogtokh Luvsandorj, who was ranked seventh nationally at the time, a notch better than Mock.

"It was a huge win for so many reasons, but the biggest is that he's seeded sixth and has positioned himself nicely," Soriedas said.

A difference this year and his previous trips while at UNC is that he isn't just playing out the string.

"The first two times I was coming off losses at the conference tournament and after those losses I just wanted the season to be over. Winning going in was what I needed," Mock said. "I'm not ready for the season to be over."

There are two sessions today and Friday with medal rounds on Saturday.

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