The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's wrestling team will continue its non-conference slate at the Virginia Duals on January 14-15.
Founded in January of 1981, the Virginia Duals was an innovator in college wrestling, bringing the dual-meet advancement format into widespread usage.
The Mocs will compete in the National College Tournament Bracket which includes Virginia, Maryland, Kent State, Lock Haven and No. 21 Oklahoma.
The Mocs will begin the event against Virginia at 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14. UTC concludes day one vs. Maryland at 3 p.m. The Blue and Gold will face Kent State at 10 a.m. on day two of the event.
MOCS AT THE VIRGINIA DUALS
This is the 11th year the Mocs have attended the Virginia Duals. They are 17-21 in their 38 contests at the tournament. Their 17 wins have come against 12 different schools. Chattanooga's best finish at the duals has been a third-place finish. They have accomplished that feat twice, in 2006 and 2016. Most recently, the Mocs placed sixth in 2019.
UTC'S PROBABLE LINEUP
125: No. 22 Fabian Gutierrez (8-4)
133: No. 21Brayden Palmer (12-4)
141: Franco Valdes (4-5)
149: Noah Castillo (8-3)/Grant Lundy(2-1)
157: Weston Wichman (9-5)
165: Drew Nicholson (4-4)/Caleb Waddell (1-2)
174: Carial Tarter (4-8)/Thomas Sell (2-5)
184: Matthew Waddell (6-6)/Landon Lewis (0-6)
197: Nicholas Benton (0-0)
285: Matthias Ervin (0-6)/Grayson Walthall (1-6)
*Rankings are FloWrestling - Dec. 24
HEAD COACH KYLE RUSCHELL
Kyle Ruschell is in his fourth season as head coach of the Mocs and owns a 25-25 dual meet record. The Mocs were 8-4 last season and 6-2 in the Southern Conference. UTC sent four participants to the 2021 NCAA Championships (Fabian Gutierrez -125, Drew Nicholson - 165, Matthew Waddell - 184 and Logan Andrew - 197). Ruschell has posted a thrd-place finish at the SoCon Tournament in each of his three seasons at UTC and finished T-1st in the 2018-19 regular season. He holds a 15-5 career record in SoCon Duals.
SCOUTING THE MOCS
UTC returns nine of its 10 starters from last year's squad. All four NCAA Qualifiers return to the Blue and Gold - Logan Andrew (197), Fabian Gutierrez (125), Drew Nicholson (165) and Matthew Waddell (184).
The Blue and Gold are coming off of a 12th-place finish at the 2022 Southern Scuffle. The Scuffle featured 28 teams and saw two Mocs on the podium. Sophomore Brayden Palmer led the Chattanooga contingent placing third at 133 pounds. After dropping his first match of the tournament, Palmer won seven straight matches to finish third. Four of his seven wins came in overtime. One of Palmer's wins was the first ranked win of his career, over No. 21 App State's Codi Russell. Palmer moved to 12-4 this season and picked up a top-25 ranking.
Fabian Gutierrez was the other placer for the Mocs. After grabbing a spot in the semifinals, Gutierrez placed sixth after medically forfeiting his fifth-place match. Gutierrez defeated No. 32 Caleb Smith to lock in a spot in the semis after starting the tournament with two pins. His final three losses of the tournament were to two top-15 opponents and Smith.
Gutierrez and Palmer made it five straight years in a row that the Blue and Gold had two medalists at the Scuffle.
The Mocs are off to a 3-5 start in 2021-22 after facing three Power-5 opponents and two ranked foes. The squad is 1-0 in Southern Conference action following the team's victory over Davidson last month. Against their three Power-5 duals, the Mocs fell to No. 12 Rutgers 39-3, No. 23 Illinois 19-12 and West Virginia 25-12.
Chattanooga was picked to finish third in the Southern Conference race with 50 points. The Mocs went 6-2 in the conference last year, finishing with an 8-4 record overall. Appalachian State received six first-place votes and 61 points to top the 2020-21 preseason poll. Campbell was second with 59 votes. Gardner-Webb (39), The Citadel (38), VMI (27), Davidson (24), Bellarmine (13) and Presbyterian (12) rounded out the listings.
ALL-TIME AGAINST 2022 VIRGINIA DUALS TEAMS
vs. Virginia - 1-4. UTC's win came in Charlottesville, 19-18 on Feb. 14, 2016.
vs. Kent State - 6-1. The Mocs have won five straight against the Golden Flashes. KSU's lone win came in 1990.
vs. Maryland - 0-2. The Mocs and the Terps have not met since 1995.
vs. Lock Haven - 1-2. All three contests between the two teams have come at the Virginia Duals.
vs. Oklahoma - 1-4. UTC's win against the sooners came on Feb. 15, 2015, 19-16.
ALL NEW AT 197
Over the break, Head Coach Kyle Ruschell announced the addition of Nicholas Benton. Benton is a transfer from Northern Illinois but did not wrestle last season. The Miramar, Fla. native was a four-time letterwinner at Somerset Academy. He tallied the most career wins in Florida history (251) and was the 2020 Somerset Academy Scholar Athlete of the Year. Benton was a four-time all-conference selection and first-team all-area selection by the Miami Herald.
NICHOLSON NAMED PRESEASON ALL-SOCON
After winning the SoCon Tournament as the No. 3 seed at 165 pounds last season, Drew Nicholson was named to the Preseason All-SoCon team in 2021. The Memphis native went 13-5 last season, 9-3 in dual action and 6-2 in SoCon matches. He is the reigning SoCon Tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
MOCS GETTING THE JOB DONE IN THE CLASSROOM
UTC topped the 3.0 mark as a team for the eighth time in the fall of 2020. The Mocs had a 3.094 GPA in the fall and had a program-record 22 on the A.D. Honor Roll with a 3.0 GPA. UTC has posted a 3.0 in each of the last five semesters.
LAST TIME VS. VIRGINIA - Jan. 17, 2020 - UVA 29, UTC 9
141: Brian Courtney major dec. Aidan Murphy (UTC), 14-6
149: No. 23 Tanner Smith (UTC) dec. Michael Murphy, 7-3
157: Justin McCoy dec. Tyler Shilson (UTC), 7-3
165: Drew Nicholson (UTC) dec. Krystian Kinsey, 4-1
174: No. 22 V. Marcelli dec. Hunter Fortner (UTC), 3-1 (sv-1)
184: No. 21 Matthew Waddell (UTC) dec. M. Battista, 7-2 –
197: No. 7 Jay Aiello major dec. Rodney Jones (UTC), 12-3
285: No. 21 Q. Miller TF Grayson Walthall (UTC), 16-1 (7:00) 125: No. 2 J. Mueller MD No. 20 Fabian Gutierrez (UTC), 11-0
133: No. 25 Louie Hayes pinned Colton Landers (UTC), 2:24
HEAD TO HEAD - VS. VIRGINIA
184: Matthew Waddell (UTC) is 1-0 vs. UVA's Michael Battista. Waddell defeated Battista 7-2 on Jan. 17, 2020.
285: Grayson Walthall (UTC) is 0-1 vs. UVA's Quinn Miller. Miller logged a tech fall on Jan. 17, 2020 (16-1, 7:00).
LAST TIME VS. KENT STATE - Jan. 11, 2019 - UTC 21, KSU 15
125: Alonzo Allen (UTC) over Jake Ferri (KSU) – D, 8-2
133: Tim Rooney (KSU) over Jake Huffine (UTC) – D, 6-3
141: Chris Debien (UTC) over Cori Simpson (KSU) - SV-1, 3-1
149: Tanner Smith (UTC) over Kody Kamara (KSU) - D, 4-1
157: Ryan Resnick (UTC) over Richard Jackson (KSU) – D, 6-3
165: Drew Nicholson (UTC) over Isaac Bast (KSU) – D, 6-5 174: Hunter Fortner (UTC) over Dylan Barrierio (KSU) – D, 7-1
184: Andrew McNalley (KSU over Dominic Lampe (UTC) - F (6:39)
197: Rod Jones (UTC) over Shane Mast (KSU) – D, 7-1
285: Spencer Berthhold (KSU) over Connor Tolley (UTC) - F (1:23)
LAST TIME VS. OKLAHOMA - Jan. 13, 2017 - No. 15 OU 34, UTC 6
125: Christian Moody (OU) – Dec. 4-3 - Alonzo Allen (UTC)
133: Jacob Rubio (OU) – Dec. 7-5 - Chris Debien (UTC)
141: Mike Longo (OU) – MD 9-1 - Chase Zemenck (UTC)
149: No. 11 Davion Jeffries (OU) –MD 10-0- Dylanger Potter (UTC)
157: No. 12 Clark Glass (OU) – TF 19-0 - Dalton Clark (UTC)
165: Yoanse Mejias (OU) – Dec. 5-3 - Justin Lampe (UTC)
174: Matt Reed (OU) – Fall 1:25 - Chad Solomon (UTC)
184: No. 17 Bryce Carr (UTC) – Dec. 3-1- Andrew Dixon (OU)
197: Brad Johnson (OU) – Fall 5:51 - Clay Dent (UTC)
285: No. 11 Jared Johnson (UTC) – Dec. 4-1 – No. 19 Ross Larson (OU)
HEAD TO HEAD - VS. OKLAHOMA
125: Fabian Gutierrez (UTC) is 0-1 vs. OU's Joey Prata. Prata defeated Gutierrez in a 9-4 decision in 2019.
LAST TIME VS. LOCK HAVEN - Jan. 12, 2018 - LH 22, UTC 18
125: Josiah Kline (LH) over Alonzo Allen (UTC) Fall 2:31 –
133: Chris Debien (UTC) over DJ Fehlman (LH) Dec 10-4
141: Kyle Shoop (LH) over Mike Pongracz (UTC) Dec 3-2
149: Ronald Perry (LH) over Zach Shareef (UTC) Dec 9-2
157: Alex Klucker (LH) over Dylan Forzani (UTC) Dec 8-6
165: No. 7 Chance Marsteller (LH) over Chad Pyke (UTC) Maj 12-4
174: Justin Lampe (UTC) over Jared Siegrist (LH) Dec 7-3 184: Corey Hazel (LH) over Rod Jones (UTC) Dec 4-2
197: No. 15 Bryce Carr (UTC) over Lock Haven, For.
285: No. 15 Scottie Boykin (UTC) over Lock Haven, For.
HEAD TO HEAD - VS. LOCK HAVEN
157: Weston Wichman is 0-1 vs. LHU's Benjamin Barton. Barton defeated Wichman by a 7-3 DEC last February.
There are no head-to-head results vs. Kent State or Maryland.