Chattanooga wrestling coach Kyle Ruschell set a few pretty specific goals for his UTC wrestling team on Sunday afternoon at Maclellan Gym and the first-year head coach was more than pleased with the results.
Getting off to a fast start and winning the first six matches, the mat Mocs improved to 3-5 overall and more importantly 1-0 in Southern Conference action with a commanding 32-8 victory over Virginia Military Institute.
Ruschell had urged his guys to wrestle aggressively and to score points as often as possible. His message was well received as the Mocs scored bonus points in five of their eight wins with one pin, one technical fall and three major decisions to go along with three regular decisions.
“I thought we got a great team effort today. We’ve been preaching aggressive, in-your-face wrestling since week one and that’s what we got from top to bottom,” Ruschell said after a post-match chat with his team.
“Every single guy was focused on scoring points and it showed from the get go. Our expectation is to wrestle hard the entire match and they did just that today.
“The guy I’m most proud of is Trey Watson, who bumped up two weight classes for a match at 184. He gave it his everything and sent the match to overtime. He gave himself a chance to win and his teammates and I are grateful to him for that kind of effort.
“This is a great start for us reaching some big goals. Our goal is to win conference titles and to have some All-Americans. This was our first conference match of the year, so we’re off to a good start,” he continued.
Ruschell never had a chance to work with the late Jim Morgan, but he wasn’t lost on what the winningest coach in Chattanooga wrestling history meant to the Mocs’ program.
“I got to meet him a couple of times and he was a special man. It was a sad day in the Chattanooga wrestling community on Friday when we heard that he had passed. He made quite an impact on a lot of the guys in our program,” he added.
Sophomore Fabian Gutierrez got the Mocs off and running with a technical fall in the opening match at 125 while Jake Huffine made it 9-0 with a 10-0 major decision at 133.
Chris Debien’s 5-2 decision at 141 made it 12-0 before Tanner Smith’s first period pin extended Chattanooga’s lead to 18-0. Mason Wallace then recorded a hard-fought 4-2 decision before Drew Nicholson’s 12-4 major decision at 165 put the Mocs ahead 25-0.
The only bright spot for the Keydets came at 174 pounds when Neal Richards scored a technical fall. Richards improved to 18-3 with his 12th straight win before Max Gallahan beat Watson 10-4 in overtime.
Rodney Jones then got Chattanooga back on track with a 5-3 decision at 197 before Connor Tolley closed the match with a 12-4 major decision at 285.
VMI coach Jim Gibson knows that his team has plenty of room to improve, but he liked what he saw for the most part on Sunday afternoon.
“A lot of wrestling comes down to just fight and effort. Anytime you’re willing to give maximum fight and maximum effort, good things eventually happen. We talk about that a lot as a staff and as a team. For the most part, we were able to do that today,” he said after his team’s record dropped to 2-10 overall and 1-2 in conference action.
“We gave up a lot of bonus points today and that’s something we need to minimize. But for the most part, I was pleased with our effort. We have a few weight classes that need some attention, but our hard work will pay off on down the road,” he concluded.
The Mocs will be at home again next Sunday afternoon for a 2 p.m. match against Davidson.
CHATTANOOGA 32, VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE 8
(Match began at 125 pounds)
125 – Fabian Gutierrez (UTC) won by technical fall over Derek Shockey, 6:04;
133 – Jake Huffine (UTC) major dec. Hunter Starner, 10-0;
141 – Chris Debien (UTC) dec. Dominick Gallo, 5-2;
149 – Tanner Smith (UTC) pinned Zach Schmitt, 2:02;
157 – Mason Wallace (UTC) dec. Darren Ostranda, 4-2;
165 – Drew Nicholson (UTC) major dec. Luke Nicksic, 12-4;
174 – Neal Richards (VMI) won by technical fall over Hunter Fortner, 4:53;
184 – Max Gallahan (VMI) dec. Trey Watson, 10-4 in overtime;
197 – Rodney Jones (UTC) dec. Christopher Beck, 5-3;
285 – Connor Tolley (UTC) major dec. Tre Momon, 12-4.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)