Wrestling Mocs clinch share of South­ern Con­fer­ence ti­tle

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS - STAFF RE­PORTS

It was as low-scor­ing as any col­le­giate wrestling match can be with­out points be­ing taken away, and in the end the Uni­ver­sity of Ten­nessee at Chat­tanooga topped 25th-ranked Camp­bell 18-12 Sun­day at Ma­clel­lan Gym.

In do­ing so, the Mocs earned a share of the South­ern Con­fer­ence reg­u­lar-sea­son ti­tle, the pro­gram’s 17th league cham­pi­onship and first since 2016.

UTC (7-6, 5-1) took six of the 10 matches in a clean dual in which nei­ther team scored any bonus points, leav­ing Camp­bell (6-6, 3-1) and Ap­palachian State (6-6, 3-1) with one league loss each. Ap­palachian State beat Camp­bell 19-17 last month, and Ap­palachian State beat UTC 21-14 this month.

“This is one we marked early in the year,” first-year Mocs coach Kyle Ruschell said in a UTC re­lease. “We knew it was home, we knew it was go­ing to be tight, and if we wres­tled like that we knew we could win. There were two or three (matches) that we were sup­posed to win. There were two or three that they were sup­posed to win, but our guys fought hard.

“Ev­ery­thing we’ve been preach­ing, it all came to­gether.”

The Mocs were up 12-6 through six bouts be­fore the vis­i­tors tied it with wins at 174 and 184 pounds. UTC ju­nior Rod­ney Jones faced Camp­bell’s Austin McNeil in a piv­otal 197-pound match and, af­ter scor­ing an es­cape point, led 4-3 en­ter­ing the fi­nal pe­riod.

McNeil es­caped to tie it, but Jones was able to get a take­down to take a 6-4 lead and held on for a 6-5 win. UTC heavy­weight Con­nor Tol­ley needed a de­ci­sion over Odgerel Batkhishig to se­cure the win and was up 3-2 af­ter five min­utes of ac­tion in the fi­nal match. Tol­ley led by a point late in the bout be­fore seal­ing the Mocs’ vic­tory with a take­down.

“It feels amaz­ing,” Tol­ley said in the re­lease. “Hon­estly, it’s more about do­ing it as a fam­ily. Ev­ery­thing that we’ve done and be­ing able to have this plat­form that the Lord blessed me with is just amaz­ing. It’s more than just wrestling; it’s great be­ing a part of a broth­er­hood.”

Other UTC win­ners Sun­day, the Mocs’ se­nior day, were se­nior Alonzo Allen to start the match at 125, ju­nior Chris De­bien at 141 and fresh­men Ryan Res­nick (157) and Drew Ni­chol­son (165). The lat­ter two won by a point each.

“These are those high-pres­sure sit­u­a­tions we want to put our guys in, where it comes down to you and you have to win,” Ruschell said. “They came out, looked at the score and made the guys wres­tle to a full seven min­utes.”

The Mocs have one more dual, at In­di­ana on Feb. 24, be­fore com­pet­ing in the SoCon tour­na­ment be­gin­ning March 10 in Boone, North Carolina. The NCAA tour­na­ment is March 21-24 in Pitts­burgh.

The soft­ball Mocs are 5-0 af­ter their open­ing week­end, closing their time at Ken­ne­saw State’s Phyl­lis Rafter Me­mo­rial event with vic­to­ries Sun­day over More­head State, 10-2, and the host Owls, 15-4.

UTC is 5-0 in soft­ball for just the sec­ond time, with the best un­de­feated start in pro­gram his­tory stretch­ing through seven games in 2016.

Against More­head State, Amanda Bel­tran, Katie Co­rum and Emma Stur­di­vant all home­red, and Aly Walker went 3-for-4 with a dou­ble, two RBIS and three runs scored. Bel­tran also was 3-for-4, and Co­rum and Stur­di­vant each to­taled two hits, Stur­di­vant with four RBIs and Co­rum with three.

Celie Hud­son (2-0) was the win­ning pitcher, strik­ing out seven in a one-hit­ter but walk­ing six. She was backed by 14 hits from her UTC team­mates.

Against Ken­ne­saw State, the Mocs had 15 hits, with Stur­di­vant fin­ish­ing 4-for-5 with a dou­ble and three RBIs, Walker go­ing 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Hayleigh Weis­senbach hit­ting a triple and col­lect­ing four RBIs.

Mariah Ramirez (3-0) was the win­ning pitcher, al­low­ing five hits and walk­ing two while strik­ing out four in five in­nings. Hud­son worked the sixth.

Per­fect start for soft­ball

Mixed re­sults for ten­nis

Golfers be­gin in top three

The UTC women’s ten­nis team won 5-2 Satur­day against Bel­mont in Nashville, im­prov­ing to 4-2.

UTC took the dou­bles point, with De­laney Ed­wards and Emma Van Hee win­ning at No. 1 and Lilly Holmes and An­nie Tar­wa­ter win­ning at No. 2. In sin­gles, UTC got wins from No. 1 Bog­dona Za­porozhets, No. 2 Polina Golop­utova, No. 4 Caro­line Hall and No. 6 Van Hee.

Bel­mont is 3-4.

The UTC men lost 5-2 at UNC Asheville on Sun­day, drop­ping them to 3-4 over­all and end­ing a three-match win­ning streak. UTC’s wins came from No. 3 Kerim Hy­att and No. 6 Pablo Lle­beili.

UNCA is un­de­feated through six matches.

The UTC men’s golf team opened its spring sched­ule Sun­day with a 6-over­par 294 at UNC Greens­boro’s Mar­tin Downs Col­le­giate, putting them tied for third with Sam­ford at the event in Palm City, Fla.

Fresh­man Leon Bader shot a 71 and was tied for fifth to lead the Mocs, with Eti­enne Brault (73) tied for 15th.

Fel­low SoCon pro­grams are ahead of the Mocs, with Mercer first at 284 and UNCG sec­ond at 293. The event con­tin­ues to­day.

STAFF PHOTO BY TIM BAR­BER

UTC wrestling coach Kyle Ruschell en­cour­ages Ryan Res­nick dur­ing a ref­eree re­view of his ques­tion­able take­down of Camp­bell Uni­ver­sity’s Ben­jamin Bar­ton just be­fore his 7-6 de­ci­sion in the 157-pound weight class Sun­day in­side Ma­clel­lan Gym.

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