Appalachian State and Chattanooga have had some really good wrestling matches in recent years as both teams have been dominant in the Southern Conference as long as they’ve been a part of it.
So it’s no real surprise that Sunday’s titanic battle at Maclellan Gym came down to the final match.
The Mountaineers pulled out the 18-16 victory with a win in the final match of the day, but the biggest difference was the bonus points and that’s where the team from Boone, N.C. had the advantage.
Both teams won five individual matches and both had four regular decisions. The Mocs got one bonus point from a 9-1 major decision by Michael Pongracz at 141 pounds while Appy got three bonus points after Codi Russell claimed a second period pin at 133.
The Mountaineers improve to 8-3 overall and 6-0 in conference matches while Chattanooga falls to 6-7 overall and 4-1 in SoCon action.
Appalachian State coach John Mark Bentley was naturally happy with the way things turned out.
“There was a lot of emotion as there always is in a match between these two teams and both came to battle today. Things didn’t always go like I expected, but we found a way to win,” he said after receiving congratulations from Mountaineer fans in attendance.
“I can’t say enough about my '97 pounder Randall Diabe, who beat a nationally ranked wrestler with the match on the line. That was a huge win for us, but nobody really gave us a chance this year as we were picked third in a pre-season poll.
“Our young guys have really stepped up and are doing well, but there’s still a lot of season left and we still have a bunch of goals we want to reach,” Bentley added.
Chattanooga coach Heath Eslinger wasn’t a very happy fellow when the close match ended. There were several questionable calls by the referee that Eslinger disagreed with, but there was nothing he could do once the match was over.
“I feel like we have the best 10 wrestlers in the Southern Conference and I thought we had a chance to win eight of the 10 matches. Unfortunately, things didn’t go our way. There were a lot of great matches, but I just don’t understand some of the calls that were made.
“We work hard and we wrestle hard in matches like this and we believe in doing what’s right because it’s the right thing to do. It’s too bad there are no repercussions for situations like this, but we’ll keep working hard and see what happens at the tournament,” he said, referring to the conference tournament that will be held in Charleston, S.C. on March 3.
Alonzo Allen, Roman Boylen, Chad Pyke and Bryce Carr all won by regular decisions for the Mocs while the Mountaineers countered with regular decisions from Angel Najar, Forrest Przybysz, Cary Miller and Diabe.
Allen gave UTC a 3-0 lead with a 3-1 verdict in the opening match at 125 before Appalachian State took the lead at 6-3 on the strength of Russell’s pin.
Chattanooga regained the advantage with the major at 141 from Pongracz and Boylen’s 4-2 overtime decision to put the Mocs ahead, 10-6.
The Mountaineers then won two of the next three matches with regular decisions to trail 13-12 following the overtime decision by Przybysz at 174.
The Mocs got a little breathing room when Carr’s decision extended the lead to 16-15.
Diabe then scored a 3-2 decision over Scottie Boykin at 197 before Miller’s 7-5 decision at 285 clinched it.
The Mocs will be at home again next Sunday for another conference match with Gardner-Webb before closing out the regular season at Campbell on Feb. 17.
APPALACHIAN ST. 18, CHATTANOOGA 16
125 – Alonzo Allen (UTC) dec. De’Andre Swinson-Barr, 3-1;
133 – Codi Russell (Appy) pinned Chris Debien, 4:12;
141 – Michael Pongracz (UTC) major dec. Irvin Enriquez, 9-1;
149 – Roman Boylen (UTC) dec. Gavin Londoff, 4-2 in overtime;
157 – Angel Najar (Appy) dec. Jake Adcock, 7-4;
165 – Chad Pyke (UTC) dec. Laken Cook, 8-5;
174 – Forrest Przybysz (Appy) dec. Justin Lampe, 4-2 in overtime;
184 – Bryce Carr (UTC) dec. Alan Clothier, 9-4;
197 – Randall Diabe (Appy) dec. Scottie Boykin, 3-2;
285 – Cary Miller (Appy) dec. Connor Tolley, 7-5.
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)