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


Friday Night Football Scores: Week Nine

Email your scores to  sports@chattanoogan.com . THURSDAY NIGHT FINAL: Monterey 50 Sale Creek 0 FRIDAY NIGHT FINALS: Copper Basin 38 Lookout Valley 0 Notre Dame 40 Coalfield 0 Boyd-Buchanan 24 Sequatchie County 14 Tyner 27 East Ridge 3 Hixson 33 Central 12 Bledsoe 33 Silverdale 7 Greeneville 31 Signal Mountain 10 Rhea County 42 East ... (click for more)

Christian Brothers Shuts Out Flames 2-0

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Surging Christian Brothers University handed the visiting Lee men's soccer team a 2-0 Gulf South Conference (GSC) defeat  on Friday  evening. It was the seventh straight victory by the Bucs who improved to 11-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play. The Flames dropped to 7-6-2 overall and 2-4-1 in league competition. Brendan Bennett put CBU on ... (click for more)

Additions And Improvements At Camp Jordan Arena Coming Soon

Additions and improvements are coming to Camp Jordan Arena in the near future. At the Thursday night meeting of the East Ridge city council, approval was given for buying new playground equipment. It will come from Gametime, a locally-based company. The VP of Marketing lives in East Ridge and made a proposal to set up the playground at Camp Jordan so his company could use it for ... (click for more)

Tribute Service For Luther Masingill Held At Historic Engel Stadium

It took a place as big as historic Engel Stadium for Chattanooga to say goodbye to their beloved Luther. Hundreds came Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to Luther Masingill who died early Monday morning after a radio career that spanned an amazing 74 years. It was clear from all who spoke that he was considered not only a radio personality, but also a role model. One after ... (click for more)

Not Everything Has Been Done To Save Hutcheson

I am a resident of Walker County and I have a personal belief that a hospital ranks equal to other basic services a community should offer (like police, fire, emergency services, school systems, government, etc.). I am not privy to all the management and financial conundrums concerning the feasibility of maintaining and growing Hutcheson, and as a private citizen I don’t believe ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Veterinarian’s Horse Sense

I suspect you’ve heard by now that a doctor in New York City, who volunteers with “Doctors Without Borders,” just got back from the African nation of Guinea on October 17 – last Friday – and on Thursday tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus. Luckily, he came in actual contact with only a few people but he reportedly rode a subway, took a taxi, went on a three-mile run and ... (click for more)