The UTC wrestling team's home opener Saturday will be more special than usual. Not only do the Mocs host No. 4-ranked Illinois at 2 p.m., but U.S. wrestling legend Dan Gable will also be in attendance.
Illinois, the sixth ranked team UTC (3-10) has faced this season, features eight nationally-ranked wrestlers in its 10-man lineup. Matt Lackey is currently the top-ranked wrestler in the nation at 165 pounds with a 21-0 record. He is scheduled to face UTC's Craig Johnson (9-9).
"We have been facing strong teams all season," UTC head coach Terry Brands said. "Illinois might be the best one we'll face all year. We are glad they agreed to come to Chattanooga, and we are prepared to give them a competitive match."
Gable, who coached Brands during his college career, served as wrestling coach at the University of Iowa from 1977-97. He compiled a 355-21-5 overall record, won the Big Ten Conference title all 21 seasons and captured nine straight NCAA Championships. He is also a two-time Olympic head coach and won a Gold Medal in the 1972 Summer Olympics.
No longer coaching on the collegiate level, Gable works at Iowa as an Assistant Athletics Director. He will speak to all interested listeners following the match at the Faculty Club on the UTC campus.
"We are extremely fortunate that Dan Gable was able to fit us into his schedule," Brands said. "He is to wrestling what Michael Jordan is to basketball. We hope his message reaches many ears in our community."
The 125-pound match Saturday should be one of the highlights of the competition. UTC's Matt Pitts (6-2) will face Illinois' Kyle Ott (18-5). Pitts is ranked 15th in the latest national poll, while Ott is rated 14th.
Jared Sulllivan leads the Mocs in wins (12-7) and pins (6). He is scheduled to take on 19th-ranke Cal Ferry (12-8).
The match will begin at 2 p.m. at Maclellan Gym on the UTC campus.
Here is Saturday's probable lineup:
125 - No. 15 Matt Pitts (UTC) 6-2 and No. 14 Kyle Ott (UI) 18-5
133 - B.J. Malone (UTC) 5-7 or Adam Rains 2-6 and No. 13 Mark Jayne (UI) 17-6
141 - Jared Sullivan (UTC) 12-7 or Ben Smith 4-6 and No. 19 Cal Ferry (UI) 12-8
149 - Jake Harris (UTC) 5-11 and No. 14 Tony Pedrosa (UI) 14-6
157 - Quentin Bell (UTC) 9-11 and No. 9 Alex Tirapelle (UI) 21-3
165 - Craig Johnson (UTC) 9-9 and No. 1 Matt Lackey (UI) 21-0
174 - Quantel Langford (UTC) 9-10 No. 5 Brian Glynn (UI) 19-2
184 - Brandon Artilles (UTC) 3-14 and Pete Friedl (UI) 12-4
197 - Drew Roberts (UTC) 1-10 and No. 19 Tyrone Byrd (UI) 14-6
HWT - Matt Seaberg (UTC) 0-6 and Chris Little (UI) 5-9