CHATTANOOGA (UTC) -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team posted a 40-3 win over Gardner-Webb in the Southern Conference opener for both teams tonight.
The Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1 SoCon) jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but UTC (1-1, 1-0 SoCon) won the last nine matches to dominate the evening.
The win is the 36th-straight league victory for the Mocs. UTC has not lost a SoCon bout since 2004 and has won 21-straight at home dating back to 2003. It was the first SoCon match for GWU who joined the league in wrestling only in the offseason.
True freshman Cole Gallagher stepped in at 125 for his first action. He put up a strong fight against Michael Slaughter and nearly scored a huge comeback win. Trailing 12-4 and losing riding time in the third period, he took Slaughter down and quickly scored three back points. He tried to roll Slaughter over one more time, but the horn sounded.
Another true freshman, Nick Soto, had a solid night at 133. He scored an 18-8 major decision over Robert Golde, giving the Mocs a 4-3 lead they would not let go. Sophomore Shawn Greevy followed that up with a major decision win at 141.
If any of the 300+ fans in attendance blinked at the beginning of the 149 match, they would have missed senior Kelly Felix. Felix pinned Alex Hamm in just 14 seconds of action. Senior Dan Waddell followed with a 6-2 decision over NCAA qualifier Alex Medved at 157, giving Chattanooga a 17-3 lead at the break.
Senior Brandon Wright kept the momentum going with a pin (4:54) over Justin Guthrie at 165. Junior Josh Condon dominated his 174 match with an 18-5 major decision against Aaron Rabin. Junior Robert Prigmore won his 184 match with a 4-0 shutout over Erin O'Dell.
Junior Niko Brown got the crowd going again with a dominating win over Julian Ming at 197. He was about to end the match with a technical fall when he pinned Ming with four seconds (6:54) left on the clock. Freshman heavyweight Kevin Malone continued his improvement with a 10-1 major decision over Justin Kozera.
"It was a good match. It is a conference match, so obviously it is important. It means something in league play, but there are still some areas we have to get better. We really had them on the ropes at 133 and 141 and did not finish. We have to put the hammer down and finish the match. There was a good win at 157 over an NCAA qualifier."
"Brandon Wright also looked good tonight," continued Eslinger. "We have really challenged him to step up to the plate and wrestle like he is capable of wrestling. Big K keeps getting better at heavyweight. Again, last week we were on the other end and it was early. This week we are on the winning end and we still have to keep getting better."
UTC is back in action on Sunday, Nov. 20 when No. 13 Stanford and Central Michigan visit the Scenic City. Action begins at 1:00 p.m. (E.S.T.) in Maclellan Gym.
Chattanooga 40 - Gardner-Webb 3
125: Michael Slaughter (GWU) won by decision over Cole Gallagher (UTC) 12-9 - GWU 3-0
133: Nick Soto (UTC) won by major decision over Robert Golde (GWU) 18-8 - UTC 4-3
141: Shawn Greevy (UTC) won by major decision over Davante Andujar (GWU) 19-8 - UTC 8-3
149: Kelly Felix (UTC) won by pin over Alex Hamm (GWU) 0:14 - UTC 14-3
157: Dan Waddell (UTC) won by decision over Alex Medved (GWU) 6-2 - UTC 17-3
165: Brandon Wright (UTC) won by pin over Justin Guthrie (GWU) 4:54 - UTC 23-3
174: Josh Condon (UTC) won by major decision over Aaron Rabin (GWU) 18-5 - UTC 27-3
184: Robert Prigmore (UTC) won by decision over Erin O'Dell (GWU) 4-0 - UTC 30-3
197: Niko Brown (UTC) won by pin over Julian Ming (GWU) 6:56 - UTC 36-3
285: Kevin Malone (UTC) won by major decision over Justin Kozera (GWU) 10-1 - UTC 40-4
Information provided by UTC Sports Information and GoMocs.com.