Moc Wrestlers Stay Focused For NCAAs

Saturday, March 10, 2012 - by B.B. Branton

It’s just another seven minute match.

  Or is it?

It’s the NCAA Wrestling Championship. The Super Bowl, the World Series and the Daytona 500 of wrestling rolled into three days of … as any red-blooded baby boomer sports nut can recite .. “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

“By the time some of us walk on the mat for our first match next Thursday, some high seeds will have lost,” said Tennessee at Chattanooga senior Daniel Waddell, making his second trip to the NCAAs. “And by Friday morning, some of those high seeds will be out of the tournament with two losses.”

Five UTC wrestlers head to St. Louis next week for the 82nd annual NCAA D-I Wrestling Championship at the Scottrade Center, March 15-17.

Nick Soto (Fr., 133), Dean Pavlou (Jr., 149), Daniel Waddell (Sr., 157), Brandon Wright (Sr., 165) and Levi Clemons (So., 174) will carry the UTC banner and hopefully make some noise.

“We want to do something special in St. Louis to show the rest of the nation that wrestlers from Chattanooga and other schools in the Southern Conference can step on the mat and stay with anyone,” said Clemons.

None of the Mocs are seeded and all but Wright face a top-six seed first thing Thursday.

“I am the underdog going in and that’s okay,” said Pavlou who looks to improve on his “two and out” performance as a redshirt freshman in 2010.

There will be upsets – and the Mocs want to be in that scenario – and the favorites who do dominate or escape with one-point wins.

Unknowns who become household names and make history during those “it’s just another seven minute match” and become the answers to trivia questions a decade down the road.

“I am excited to see all the great fans from Iowa and Minnesota, but at the same time we have a job to do and we have to stay focused on our match and our goals,” stated Clemons who knows something about winning on a big stage – albeit at the prep level – with two Florida state high school championships and Cadet (Greco-Roman) and Schoolboy Freestyle national championships on his resume.''

Clemons round of 32 opponent has a big-time prep pedigree as freshman Logan Storley (Minnesota, 23-6) can match Clemons resume and then some. Six-time high school state champion in South Dakota ... 2011 Jr. Hodge Award ... 2009 Fargo Freestyle National Champion ... 2008 USA Folkstyle National Champion.

“You do have to focus on the task at hand and your match and block out all the possible distractions, yet you can feed off the excitement of 22,000 screaming wrestling fans and use it to your advantage,” said Waddell.

7-Minute War: “The biggest difference between high school and college is that every match is a seven minute grind,” said Clemons who was 6-13 as a freshman.“You have to be in a mind set to go hard every second for all three periods.

“I got pinned a lot last year (6 of 13 losses were via fall) as a freshman as I wasn’t mentally ready to go hard for three periods.”

He stayed in Chattanooga last summer and worked out with teammates to better his mental and physical approach to the sport.

Clemons is 21-14 entering the NCAAs and has been pinned five times, but stuck seven guys as opposed to registering only one fall as a freshman.

The work in the off-season came into play as Clemons rallied to win 9-7 in overtime to take third in the SoCon tournament last weekend and then got the call from the NCAAs on Wednesday to pack his bags for St. Louis when another NCAA qualifier pulled out at 174.

Live in a Bubble: While Pavlou, Waddell and Wright are making their second trip, it’s the first time for Soto and Clemons.

“I have talked with Cody Cleveland (former UTC wrestler) and he told me the year he was an All-American (2008) he did his best to live in a bubble for three days,” said Soto. “Avoid the distractions and go in to the tournament with blinders on like a horse in a horse race.”

Secretariat comes to mind as a four-legged creature to emulate.

And the NCAA tourney is the stretch run for many wrestlers as 330 guys in singlets are sprinting to the finish line a week from today.

First Round Matches:

133 -  Nick Soto (Fr., 25-6) opens with No.4 Bernard Futrell (Illinois, Jr., 27-6).  

149 - Dean Pavlou (Jr., 20-9) faces No.6 Tyler Nauman (Pittsburgh, Sr., 27-5).

157 - Daniel Waddell (Sr., 21-9) opens with No.6 James Fleming (Clarion, 27-2)

165 - Brandon Wright (Sr., 21-9) meets David Cheza (Michigan State, Sr., 15-10).

174 - Levi Clemons (So., 21-14) meets No.4 Logan Storley (Minnesota, Fr., 23-6)

 contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net


Lookouts Keep Rolling With 3-1 Win Over M-Braves Saturday

Edgar Corcino and the Lookouts pitching staff combined to send Chattanooga fans home happy on Fan Appreciation Night with a 3-1 win over the Mississippi Braves.  Corcino tripled in two runs to start the scoring in home half of the fourth Saturday. Ryan Walker and Travis Harrison came home to score on the big hit and gave the Lookouts a lead they would hold the rest of the ... (click for more)

Dalton State Women's Soccer Defeats Johnson & Wales University 4-2

The Dalton State women’s soccer team did it again. The Lady Roadrunners found themselves down by 2-0 at halftime against Johnson & Wales University (Fl.) “After making some adjustments during the break, I could tell the girls were fired up and hungry and I had a great feeling we would win the game,” said DS Coach Kerem Daser. “I guess you can call my ladies the comeback ... (click for more)

Fire Displaces Family Of 3 On Kemp Drive

No injuries were reported in connection with a house fire late Saturday afternoon. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm shortly before  6 p.m.  and responded to 4605 Kemp Drive with five fire companies. Battalion Chief Rick Boatwright said the fire started in the kitchen and then spread up into the attic. The firefighters were able to bring the ... (click for more)

Michael Wilson Back In Bradley County; Due In Court On Monday

Michael Wilson is back in Bradley County, and was escorted into the Correctional Facility around 8:15 p.m. Wilson’s first appearance in court will be on Monday, at 9 a.m. in the Bradley County General Sessions Courtroom at the Judicial Complex at 2290 Blythe Ave. Wilson was arrested last week, after e ndangered Bradley County child Skyla Wilson was found safe in Colorado ... (click for more)

Pedestrians Have The Right Of Way - And Response (3)

Often I visit Gold's Gym at Chestnut and 4th Street. I  park in the theater parking lot at Broad and 4th Street.  I depend on the walk signs to get me there safely.  Most days I almost get hit by someone turning left or right coming from the exit ramp off 27 or turning right on 4th street from Chestnut. This happened yesterday as I was almost mowed down by a garbage ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Girls - ‘I Can And I Will’

Every night after the Rodriguez girls went to sleep not that long ago in a grim, rat-infested basement apartment on Chicago’s South Side, their father – a boxing referee who came to America from Puerto Rico -- would kneel beside the girls’ bed and whisper in each child’s ear. Their parents made them sleep hot-dog style, tightly wrapped in the same sheet and pressed together to protect ... (click for more)