The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team is sending five student-athletes to the 2013 NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, this week. Action takes place at the Wells Fargo Arena beginning on Thursday, March 21, with the finals set for Saturday, March 23.
Seniors Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.), Josh Condon (Powder Springs ,Ga.) and Dean Pavlou (Cleveland, Tenn.), junior Alex Hudson (Marietta, Ga.) and sophomore Nick Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) all earned automatic bids to the NCAAs based on their performances at the Southern Conference Tournament on March 9.
Pavlou is making his third trip to the NCAAs while Brown, Condon and Soto are returning for the second time. This is the first appearance at the Championships for Hudson.
125: No. 18 Nick Soto (So. - 26-6)
141: Dean Pavlou (Sr. - 24-12)
149: Alex Hudson (Jr. - 15-5)
165: Josh Condon (Sr. - 12-5)
197: No. 18 Niko Brown (Sr. - 29-3)
Head Coach: Heath Eslinger (45-28 - 4th Year)
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Thursday, March 21
Session 1 - 1st Round - ESPN3 - Noon (E.D.T.)
Session 2 - 2nd Round and Consolation Rounds - ESPN3 - 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 22
Session 3 - Quarters and Consolation Rounds - ESPNU HD/ESPN3 - 11:00 a.m.
Session 4 - Semifinals - ESPNU HD/ESPN3 - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 23
Session 5 - Medal Rounds - ESPNU HD/ESPN3 - 11:00 a.m.
Session 6 - Finals - ESPN HD/ESPN3 (simulcast) - 8:00 p.m.
ESPN TO AIR EVERY SESSION
The 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships begin with ESPN3's exclusive live coverage of the First and Second Rounds on Thursday, March 21 at noon and 7:30 p.m. For the fifth year the multi-screen sports network provides an exclusive four-screen, four-mat viewing experience unique to wrestling in the first, second and quarterfinal rounds.
Two of the four quarterfinals, as well as the semifinals, will be televised on ESPNU in a side-by-side format to maximize the HD viewing experience, allowing viewers to catch the action in two matches at the same time. During the Finals on ESPN Saturday, March 23 at 8 p.m., referees will wear a microphone, providing fans with even more access and understanding of the action.
In addition to enhanced viewing and audio access, ESPN wrestling analysts Tim Johnson and Anthony Robles offer expert analysis alongside play-by-play Adam Amin on ESPN and ESPNU.
QUICK NOTES ON THE MOCS
Head Coach Heath Eslinger is 45-28 in four years with the Mocs. He just passed his collegiate coach, Mark Leen, for No. 4 on UTC's head coaching wins list. Leen was 43-35-1 (.551) in six seasons from 1996-01. He was also just named the SoCon Coach of the Year for the second time in his career.
Sophomore Niko Soto (125) has won nine straight matches heading into the Championships.
Senior Dean Pavlou (141) is making his third appearance at the NCAA's, his first at 141 pounds.
Junior Alex Hudson (149) is the only first-time NCAA qualifier among the five Mocs competing this week.
Despite having just one first-time qualifier, this group of Mocs is just 1-10 in individual matches at the NCAAs. Nick Soto scored a win at 133 pounds in last year's tournament.
Senior Josh Condon (165) was 6-0 in SoCon matches with five pins.
Senior Niko Brown (197) went 15-0 in dual matches with a team-high nine pins.
This is the 29th time the Mocs have won either the SoCon Regular Season title, tournament championship or both in the same year.
The Mocs set a new attendance record for home events in 2012-13, averaging 1,261 fans per home event.
MOCS AT THE NCAAS
Chattanooga has been represented at the NCAA Wrestling Championships every year since moving up to Division I in 1978. The Mocs' best finish was a tie for 14th in 1983. UTC has scored points every year except for 1997, 2003 and 2011. Chattanooga's second-best result was a 21st place showing in 2007. The Mocs also tied for 21st in 2005.
Individually, the UTC has 12 All-American honors won by nine different wrestlers. Cody Cleveland was the last to earn All-American status, finishing eighth at 141 in 2008. The best individual finish was Charlie Heard's runner-up at 118 in 1983.
NO EASY MATCHES
When you get to the NCAA Tournament, there are no easy matches. However, the Mocs really have a tough go in the opening round. Four of the five will take on a seeded opponent.
Sophomore Nick Soto opens with No. 12 Tyler Cox (Wyoming) at 125 pounds while junior Alex Hudson faces No. 5 Steve Santos (Columbia) at 149. Senior Josh Condon goes against No. 5 Steven Monk (North Dakota State) and senior Niko Brown faces No. 9 Jake Meredith (Arizona State).
This is the second straight year four of the five Mocs competing at the NCAA's face a seeded opponent in the first round.
SOPHOMORE NICK SOTO - 125 POUNDS
Sophomore Nick Soto earned the SoCon's automatic bid at 125 pounds by winning the league tournament. He is 26-6 overall and 7-5 against the NCAA field in 2012-13. Five of his wins against the field are over SoCon foes Dominic Parisi (App. St.) and Eric Montoya (Campbell).
Soto has been ranked in the top-20 throughout the season and is currently as high as No. 18 in the nation at 125.
This is Soto's second appearance at the NCAA's, after winning the SoCon at 133 as a freshman last season. He went 1-2 at last year's championships.
His first round opponent is No. 12 seed Tyler Cox of Wyoming. This is the second-straight year he has drawn a seeded opponent in the first round.
Soto vs. NCAA Field in 2012-13 - 7-5
No. 9 Matthew Snyder (Virginia 11/3) - L-D, 1-6
Dominic Parisi (App. St. - Hokie Open 11/4) - W-MD, 10-2
No. 6 Jarrod Garnett (Va. Tech - Hokie Open 11/4) - W-D, 10-9
Nathan Kraisser (UNC - Wolfpack Open 11/11) - L-D, 4-7
No. 1 Matt McDonough (Iowa 11/16) - L-Fall (1:45)
Edward Klimara (Ok. State - Grapple 12/16) - W-Fall (6:29)
Rob Deutsch (ODU - Scuffle 1/1) - L-D, 1-3 (OT)
Ben Willeford (CSU 1/20) - L-D, 4-5
Dominic Parisi (App. St. 2/3) - W-MD, 10-2
Eric Montoya (Campbell 2/25) - W-D, 7-1
Dominic Parisi (App. St. - SoCon 3/9) - W-MD, 15-7
Eric Montoya (Campbell - SoCon 3/9) - W-D, 4-0
SENIOR DEAN PAVLOU - 141 POUNDS
Senior Dean Pavlou is making his third trip to the NCAA Tournament, his first at 141 pounds. He is a two-time SoCon Champion and finished runner-up at 141 pounds this season. He grabbed one of two automatic qualifier spots given to the SoCon at that weight.
Despite having been here twice before, Pavlou is looking for his first win at the NCAA Championships. He went 0-2 in each of his previous two appearances.
Pavlou has a career-best 24-12 overall record and is 3-10 against the NCAA field this season. He opens against Rutger's Trevor Melde. Pavlou benefitted from a forfeit by Melde on his way to a fourth place showing at the Hokie Open on Nov. 4. Melde scored a first period pin (1:17) in their other match in the Grapple in the Garden on Dec. 16.
Pavlou is an excellent student, earning three-straight Academic All-SoCon and Academic All-NWCA honors in his career.
Pavlou vs. NCAA Field in 2012-13 - 3-10
Ugi Khishgnyam (Cit - Hokie Open 11/4) - L-D, 3-8
Trevor Melde (Rutgers - Hokie Open 11/4) - W-Foreit
No. 20 Evan Henderson (UNC - Hokie Open 11/4) - L-TF, 2-19
No. 19 Evan Henderson (UNC - Hokie Open 11/4) - L-Fall (3:27)
No. 15 Mark Ballweg (Iowa 11/16) - L-MD, 0-9
Julian Feikert (Ok. State - Grapple 12/16) - L-D, 3-5
No. 15 Trevor Melde (Rutgers - Grapple 12/16) - L-Fall (1:17)
Bryan Pearsall (Penn State - Scuffle 1/1) - W-D, 7-1
No. 11 Michael Nevinger (Cornell - Scuffle 1/1) - L-MD, 0-10
Connor Hanafee (Army - Scuffle 1/2) - L-D, 2-4
Bryan Pearsall (Penn State - Scuffle 1/2) - W-D, 4-2
No. 8 Ugi Khishignyam (CIT 1/27) - L-D, 1-8
No. 6 Ugi Khishignyam (CIT - SoCon 3/9) - L-D, 2-3
JUNIOR ALEX HUDSON - 149 POUNDS
Junior Alex Hudson is making his first trip to the NCAA Championships after winning the SoCon title at 149 pounds. He is 15-5 overall and riding a team-high 11-match winning streak. He has scored bonus points in six of his last seven wins.
Hudson is 0-2 against the NCAA field in his career. He lost to Virginia's Derek Valenti (3-7) in a dual meet during the season-opening weekend on Nov. 4. His other match against the field was also a loss to UNCG's Ivan Lopouchanski during his sophomore campaign in 2011. He was pinned in the second period (4:14) in that contest. Lopouchanski now competes for Purdue and is the No. 10 seed.
Hudson's opening round bout comes against Columbia's Steve Santos, the No. 5 seed in the 149 bracket.
Hudson vs. NCAA Field in 2012-13 - 0-1
No. 10 Derek Valenti (Virginia 11/3) - L-D, 3-7
Hudson vs. NCAA Field (2010-11 - Sophomore) - 0-1
No. 8 Ivan Lopouchanski (Purdue (UNCG) 2/5/11) - L-Fall (4:14)
SENIOR JOSH CONDON - 165 POUNDS
Senior Josh Condon is making his second trip to the NCAAs after winning the SoCon Championship at 165 pounds. He is 12-5 overall and his scored pins in seven of his last nine matches. He is riding a 10-match winning streak into the Championships.
Condon qualified for the NCAAs as a sophomore in 2011, winning the 157-pound SoCon title. He went 0-2 at the Championships in his first trip.
Condon is 2-5 against the field in 2012-13 and 2-7 in his career. Both of his wins are against Appalachian State's Zach Strickland. He opens against the No. 5 seed Steven Monk of North Dakota State.
Condon vs. NCAA Field in 2012-13 - 2-5
No. 3 Tyler Caldwell (Ok. State) - L-Fall (6:15)
Nick Visicaro (Rutgers) - L-D, 8-11
Zack Strickland (App. St. - Scuffle 1/2) - L-MD, 1-9
Paul Hancock (Army - Scuffle) - L-D, 6-8
No. 8 Conrad Polz (Illinois 1/6) - L-D, 4-5
Zack Strickland (App. St. 2/3) - W-Fall (5:55)
Zack Strickland (App. St. - SoCon 3/9) - W-D, 7-3
Condon vs. NCAA Field (Sophomore 2010-11) - 0-2
No. 12 Peter Yates (Va. Tech - ACC Challenge 11/21/10) - L-MD, 0-8
Ramon Santiago (Rider - Va. Duals 1/7/11) - L-D, 8-5
SENIOR NIKO BROWN - 197 POUNDS
Senior Niko Brown is making his second trip to the NCAAs after winning the SoCon title at 197 pounds. He is have an outstanding season with a team-high 29-3 overall record. He went 15-0 in dual matches and is ranked as high as No. 18 in the nation.
Brown earned an at-large bid as a sophomore in 2011, and would have returned last season, but was knocked out of the 2012 SoCon Tournament with an injury. He is still looking for his first win at the NCAAs.
Brown is 3-6 against the field in his career, including 2-2 in 2012-13. He defeated Virginia's Michael Salopek (4-2) in overtime in the dual with the Cavaliers on Nov. 3. He then benefited from a forfeit by Virginia Tech's Derrick Borlie on his way to a third place finish at the Hokie Open on Nov. 4.
Brown opens the tournament against Arizona State's No. 9 seed Jake Meredith. This is a rematch from the 2013 Southern Scuffle that ended in a 7-5 decision for Meredith.
Brown vs. NCAA Field in 2012-13 - 2-2
Michael Salopek (Virginia 11/3) - W-D, 4-2 (OT)
Derrick Borlie (Va. Tech - Hokie Open 11/4) - W-Foreit
No. 9 Jake Meredith (ASU - Scuffle 1/2) - L-D, 5-7
Jace Bennett (Cornell - Scuffle 1/2) - L-MD, 4-15
Brown vs. NCAA Field (Junior 2011-12) - 1-1
Jace Bennett (Cornell - Scuffle 1/2/12) - W-D, 9-7
Scott Schiller (Minnesota - Scuffle 1/2/12) - L-D, 3-7
Brown vs. NCAA Field (Sophomore 2010-11) - 0-2
No. 3 Dustin Kilgore (KSU 11/6/10) - L-MD, 4-14
Brent Haynes (Missouri - NCAAs 3/17/11) - L-TF (2:48)
Brown vs. NCAA Field (Freshman 2009-10) - 0-1
No. 18 Brent Haynes (Missouri 1/16/10) - L-MD, 4-15
FIVE MOCS ON THE ALL-SOCON TEAM
The Mocs put five student-athletes on the 2013 All-Southern Conference team, including seniors Niko Brown (197) and Josh Condon (165), junior Alex Hudson (149), sophomore Nick Soto (124) and freshman John Lampe (174).
UTC ENJOYS RECORD ATTENDANCE IN 2012-13
The Mocs averaged a program-record 1,261 fans over their eight-date home schedule. UTC sold out the Iowa match with 2,639 in attendance on Nov. 16. That was the largest crowd for a dual meet in school history. Chattanooga also had nearly 5,400 fans for the two-day Southern Scuffle in McKenzie Arena on Jan. 1-2.
RECENT RANKED TEAMS TO VISIT MACLELLAN GYM
The Mocs hosted two top-10 teams for a dual match in Maclellan Gym this season. These included a 37-6 loss to No. 2 Iowa on Nov. 16. It was the first-ever sellout for a wrestling match at UTC with 2,639 fans cramming into Big Mac. UTC also hosted No. 9 Illinois on Jan. 6, losing that battle 29-10.
Chattanooga has hosted a number of top-25 teams in recent years and has come away with some memorable wins. UTC pulled off a 22-15 victory over No. 12 Stanford on Nov. 20, 2011. The Mocs biggest home win in recent years was a 19-16 upset of No. 9 Ohio State on Nov. 10, 2007. Below is a list of ranked teams to visit Maclellan Gym for a dual match with the Mocs since the 1996-97 season.
No. 2 Iowa - L - 37-6 - Nov. 16, 2012
No. 2 Oklahoma State - L - 9-39 - Nov. 16, 1996
No. 7 Illinois - L - 7-37 - Jan. 16, 1999
No. 4 Illinois - L - 6-31 - Jan. 18, 2003
No. 4 Iowa State - L - 9-27 - Nov. 29, 2003
No. 9 Illinois - L - 10-29 - Jan. 6, 2013
No. 15 Wisconsin - L - 12-23 - Dec. 11, 2004
No. 22 Northern Iowa - L - 18-19 - Jan. 28, 2006
No. 9 Ohio State - W - 19-16 - Nov. 10, 2007
No. 8 Missouri - L - 10-24 - Dec. 16, 2007
No. 5 Central Michigan - L - 11-26 - Feb. 17, 2008
No. 10 Oklahoma - L - 14-23 - Jan. 11, 2009
No. 2 Cornell - L - 7-32 - Feb. 1, 2009
No. 19 Missouri - L - 14-24 - Jan. 16, 2010
No. 12 Stanford - W - 22-15 - Nov. 20, 2011
MOCS SET RECORDS IN 2012 FALL SEMESTER
The UTC wrestling team had an overall program record 2.89 grade-point-average for the 2012 fall semester. The Mocs also set team records with 14 on the Dean's List and 18 on the AD Honor Roll. Senior Dean Pavlou (Health & Human Performance) and freshman John Lampe (History) were two of 28 student-athletes at UTC with a 4.0 g.p.a. in the fall.