Saturday, August 2, 2014 · 12:30 a.m.

Chattanooga wrestling team picked first in SoCon preseason poll

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The Southern Conference's eight wrestling coaches have picked defending tournament champion Chattanooga to win the league title in 2012-13. The coaches also selected an 11-member preseason all-conference team.

Chattanooga picked up four-first place votes and 46 total points to edge second-place The Citadel by two points. The Mocs won the tournament for the second straight year and seventh time in the last eight seasons.

Head coach Heath Eslinger's squad boasts three members of the preseason All-SoCon team. After winning the 2012 title at 133 pounds, sophomore Nick Soto (Spring Hill, Fla.) will drop down to 125 and was the preseason selection there. Senior Dean Pavlou (Cleveland, Tenn.), a two-time SoCon champion at 149, is the preseason pick at 141 this year. Senior Niko Brown (Kissimmee, Fla.) earned the selection at 197.

The Citadel was second in the poll with 44 points and picked up the remaining four first-place votes. The Bulldogs also placed three members on the preseason all-conference team, with Jordan Dix (149), Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (174) and Odie Delaney (HWT) taking the distinction. Luvsandorj and Delaney were SoCon champions at their respective weight classes last season.

Campbell finished fourth in the regular season and tournament in it its inaugural season in the SoCon last year and is picked to finish third this season. The Camels picked up 35 points and shared league-high honors with three members of the preseason all-conference team. Joey Rizzolino (133), Nick Rex (157) and James Cooke (184) were all selected.

Appalachian State was picked fourth with 33 points. The Mountaineers won the 2011-12 SoCon regular-season title, their first since 2003. Brett Boston earned the preseason nod at 133 for the Mountaineers. Gardner-Webb, which also competed in the SoCon for the first time last season, was selected fifth with 25 points and placed Justin Guthrie on the preseason team at 165 pounds.

VMI was sixth with 20 points and was followed by league newcomer SIUE (14) and Davidson (seven). SIUE completed its reclassification to Division I last season and is now eligible for the SoCon Wrestling Championship.

The Mocs will hold their annual Blue-Gold Match on Saturday, Oct. 27, in the First Tennessee Pavilion as part of the pregame tailgating festivities prior to the football game against No. 2 Georgia Southern. Action begins at 3:00 p.m. (E.D.T.).

Season tickets are on sale now for UTC wrestling. The Mocs' home schedule includes eight dates, highlighted by a Nov. 16 visit from Iowa and the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1-2. 

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