Tuesday, November 13, 2012
- by B.B. Branton
"To be able to wrestle against Iowa in Maclellan Gym Friday night is comparable to the football team playing Alabama at Finley Stadium or the Mocs basketball team playing Kentucky at McKenzie Arena. Iowa wrestling is that big ... maybe bigger. "
---- Heath Eslinger, UTC wrestling coach
UTC wrestling coach Heath Eslinger is a visionary and a pro-active kind of guy.
First he brings the nationally-known Southern Scuffle to McKenzie Arena this past New Year’s Day.
And this Friday he has convinced Iowa and Virginia – a pair of nationally-ranked team – plus Cumberland University for an afternoon and evening of wrestling at Maclellan Gym.
“To wrestle Iowa in our gym is the ultimate,” said Eslinger at Monday’s Chattanooga Quarterback Club. “They are wrestling’s version of Alabama football and Kentucky basketball.”
Iowa is ranked second in the nation and has five returning All-Americans, including two-time national champion in Matt McDonough (125).
Virginia is No.16 and led by All-American Derek Valenti (149) and NCAA qualifier Joe Spisak (133).
“UTC has never had an NCAA Division I national champion, but I think our Nick Soto at 125 is on that path,” stated Eslinger.
“He faces McDonough Friday night at 7 p.m. in Big Mac and I am excited to see how he does.’'
Eslinger illustrated his point on how big wrestling is in Iowa.
“The Lady Vols under Pat Summitt won eight NCAA titles which was a great accomplishment. Iowa has won 23 in wrestling.”
Friday’s Schedule - Maclellan Gym UTC campus
2 p.m. Virginia vs. Cumberland
3:30 p.m. - Iowa vs. Cumberland (a kids club match on adjacent mat)
5 p.m. – UTC vs. Cumberland … No.2 Iowa vs. No. 16 Virginia
7 p.m. – UTC vs. No. 2 Iowa
Tickets: Adults- $5 Students - $2 UTC Students – Free with ID
“During the Jim Morgan Era of the 1970s the wrestling Mocs drew big crowds at Maclellan Gym and we are hoping for a large turnout on Friday for our home opener,” Eslinger said.
Developing a Great Era: “Anyone can have a great year, but we want to develop our great era. Iowa, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State have done that.”
Shine at the NCAAs: “Winning conference titles is nice, but to be recognized on the big stage with the elite programs we have to have success at the NCAA tournament,” said Eslinger. “That is how you are measured as an individual and a program.”
For UTC, the measuring begins Friday night at 7 p.m.
contact B.B. Branton at firstname.lastname@example.org