SIUE’s Connor McMahon was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler, while Appalachian State’s JohnMark Bentley and Gardner-Webb’s Daniel Elliott shared SoCon Coach of the Year honors.
The Mocs cruised to the team title, putting four wrestlers in the finals and picking up five third-place finishes. Appalachian State put five wrestlers in the finals, winning two titles.
The Citadel finished third in the team standings with 62 points, followed by Gardner-Webb in fourth with 54. SIUE was fifth with 38.5, Davidson was sixth with 27.5 and VMI finished seventh with 24.5.
The Southern Conference was allocated 14 spots for the NCAA Championships, with three at 149 pounds, two each at 125 pounds and heavyweight, and one each at the seven other weights.
The feel-good story of the tournament was SIUE’s McMahon, as the No. 5 seed at 165 pounds upset No. 1 seed and SoCon Freshman of the Year Nick Kee of Appalachian State via major decision in the semis before topping No. 3 seed Shabaka Johns of VMI 4-3 in the final. In the title bout, McMahon got a reversal with just under a minute left to break a 2-all deadlock and hung on for the win.
SoCon Wrestler of the Year Sean Boyle of Chattanooga posted a pair of major decisions to claim the title at 125 pounds, as the top seed posted a 10-2 win over Gardner-Webb’s Cortez Starkes in the semifinals and a 10-1 victory over The Citadel’s Joaquin Marquez in the final.
Chattanooga’s Nick Soto made some history at 133 pounds, becoming just the 16th wrestler in the 78-year history of the tournament to win four titles. Soto, the No. 1 seed, pinned 2013 champion Anthony Elias of Davidson and No. 2 seed Vito Pasone of Appalachian State for his third title at 133 and fourth overall.
Michael Longo of Appalachian State won his first career title at 141, as the No. 3 seed upset top seed Mike Pongracz of Chattanooga in the championship bout, 7-4. The 149-pound title match featured another upset, as The Citadel’s Matt Frisch, the No. 3 seed, topped No. 1 seed Ryan Mosley of Gardner-Webb 3-1 to pick up his first SoCon crown. Both Frisch and Mosley were assured of NCAA berths heading into the bout.
The 157-pound match was a thriller, with The Citadel’s Aaron Walker successfully defending his title with a 6-1 win over Appalachian State’s Zack Strickland. With the score deadlocked at 1 late in the third period, Walker used a takedown and earned three back points in the final 20 seconds to claim the win.
Sean Mappes of Chattanooga and Forrest Przybysz of Appalachian State turned in another thriller at 174, with Mappes, the 4 seed, emerging as the champion on riding time, 6-5. Mappes took down No. 1 seed Jake Residori of SIUE in the semifinals, 5-3.
Top-seeded Scott Patrick of Davidson defended his 184-pound title with a 6-1 win over Gardner-Webb’s Hunter Gamble, accruing more than two minutes of riding time en route to punching his ticket to the NCAA Championships.
The 197 match was another barn-burner, with SIUE’s Jake Tindle, the No. 4 seed, using a takedown with 25 seconds left to rally from a two-point deficit and claim the title 4-3 over defending champion and No. 2 seed Marshall Haas of The Citadel. Tindle knocked off No. 1 seed Scottie Boykin of Chattanooga in the semifinals, 5-4.
Appalachian State’s Denzel Dejournette, ranked 19th nationally at heavyweight, won that title from the No. 3 seed, downing No. 4 seed Joe Bexley in the championship bout, 1-0.
The Citadel’s Marquez and Chattanooga’s Jared Johnson won true-place matches for the SoCon’s second NCAA allocations at 125 and heavyweight, respectively. Chattanooga’s Shawn Greevy took third at 149 to claim the third SoCon allocation at that weight.
The lightest five weights all saw the 1 seeds advance to the title bouts, but the top seeds in the heavier five didn’t fare as well. Davidson’s Patrick at 184 was the only one to escape unscathed, as the other four fell in the semis. Appalachian State’s Kee (165), SIUE’s Residori (174) and Chattanooga’s Boykin (197) all rebounded to take third place in their respective brackets.
The 14 individuals that punched their NCAA tickets Saturday will learn their fates on Wednesday, March 11, as the NCAA Division I wrestling selection show will air on NCAA.com that day at 6 p.m.
Chattanooga – 89.0
Appalachian State – 70.5
The Citadel – 62.0
Gardner-Webb – 54.0
SIUE – 38.5
Davidson – 27.5
VMI – 24.5
Individual champions/NCAA qualifiers
125 – Sean Boyle, Chattanooga
133 – Nick Soto, Chattanooga
141 – Michael Longo, Appalachian State
149 – Matt Frisch, The Citadel
157 – Aaron Walker, The Citadel
165 – Connor McMahon, SIUE
174 – Sean Mappes, Chattanooga
184 – Scott Patrick, Davidson
197 – Jake Tindle, SIUE
HWT – Denzel Dejournette, Appalachian State
Additional NCAA allocations
125 – Joaquin Marquez, The Citadel
149 – Ryan Mosley, Gardner-Webb; Shawn Greevy, Chattanooga
HWT – Jared Johnson, Chattanooga
Southern Conference Co-Coaches of the Year
JohnMark Bentley, Appalachian State
Daniel Elliott, Gardner-Webb
Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler
Connor McMahon, SIUE