SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Coming off a 2016-17 season that saw it win its first Southern Conference Wrestling Championship and finish second during the regular season, Campbell has been selected as the preseason favorite for the upcoming 2017-18 wrestling season by the league’s eight head coaches, who also selected a 10-member preseason all-conference team.
The coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams or student-athletes.
With both teams receiving four first-place votes, Campbell edged out Chattanooga, receiving a total of 46 points while Chattanooga totaled 45. Campbell went 6-1 in conference matchups last season, finishing just behind Appalachian State in the standings. The Camels prevailed at the Southern Conference Championship, totaling 89.5 points as a team to take home the title.
Campbell has four wrestlers selected to the preseason All-SoCon squad in Josh Heil (141 pounds), Austin Kraisser (157), Quentin Perez (165) and Jere Heino (heavyweight). Heil earned the No. 1 seed in last year’s SoCon tournament, going 3-0 en route to winning the 141-pound weight class, which led to an NCAA Championships appearance. Kraisser, who finished second at 157 last season, went 22-11 overall while going 6-0 in SoCon regular-season matchups in 2016-17.
Quentin Perez won the 165-pound division as a No. 3 seed in 2016-17, going 17-10 on the season an earning an NCAA tournament berth. Heino also appeared in the NCAA Championships at the heavyweight division where he went 2-2. Heino who was 24-9 overall with last season, is ranked 15th nationally in the InterMat preseason rankings. The Camels are guided by 2016-17 SoCon Coach of the Year Cary Kolat.
Chattanooga, which finished third in the 2016-17 standings, also has four representatives on the preseason All-SoCon squad in Alonzo Allen (125), Chris Debien (133), Bryce Carr (184) and Scottie Boykin (197). Debien and Carr won their respective weight classes in last year’s Southern Conference Championship, while Boykin redshirted. Allen went 16-13 at the 125-pound weight class with one pin. Debien, who was named All-Southern Conference, posted an overall record of 18-11, going 1-2 in the NCAA Championships. Carr, who was ranked preseason No. 12 by InterMat, dominated throughout the 2016-17 season, going 26-6 with six pins at 184. Boykin looks to regain his form from two years ago, when he went undefeated in SoCon matchups (7-0) with a 22-8 overall record, winning the league title at 197.
Appalachian State, which took home the 2016-17 SoCon regular-season title, is slated to finish third by the league’s coaches. The Mountaineers were a perfect 7-0 in conference matchups, going 13-3 overall. Appalachian State finished second to Campbell in the Southern Conference Championship, totaling 86 points and boasting two champions. Forrest Pryzbysz, who went 22-12 at 165 last season, was voted All-SoCon in the 174-pound division for the upcoming season.
Matt Zovistoski, who enters his junior year at Appalachian State, paced the 149-pound weight class in 2016-17, going 28-10 overall and 2-2 in the NCAA Championships after cruising through the SoCon Championship. Zovistoski was ranked No. 14 in the preseason in the 149-pound weight class, according to InterMat.
SIUE, which finished fourth in the regular season and third in the SoCon Championship, was picked to finish fourth, totaling 31 points. Heavyweight Jake McKiernan will look to improve upon a successful 2016-17 in which he went 23-11 with a SoCon-best 10 pins. John Muldoon will also help lead the Cougars in 2017-18. Muldoon posted a 13-9 record as a sophomore, earning third place in the 133-pound weight division at the Southern Conference Championship.
Gardner-Webb, which finished league action 3-4 last year, is ranked fifth in the preseason poll, receiving 28 total points. The Bulldogs’ Tyler Marinelli, who went 17-7 at the 165 pound division in 2016-17, will wrestle at 157 this season.
The Citadel, VMI and Davidson round out the rest of the poll in the same order in which they finished 2016-17. The Citadel will return Ty Buckiso and Sawyer Root at 149 and 197, respectively. Buckiso went 24-17 with three pins as junior, while Root was 22-16, going 6-1 in SoCon matches. VMI received 11 total points while Davidson totaled nine.
The 2017-18 wrestling season gets under way on Nov. 3. The Southern Conference Wrestling Championship will take place March 3, 2018, on the campus of The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.
2017-18 SoCon Wrestling Preseason Coaches Poll
School (First-place votes) Points
- Campbell (4) 46
- Chattanooga (4) 45
- Appalachian State 35
- SIUE 31
- Gardner-Webb 28
- The Citadel 19
- VMI 11
- Davidson 9
2017-18 SoCon Wrestling Preseason All-Conference Team
125 Alonzo Allen, Chattanooga
133 Chris Debien, Chattanooga*
141 Josh Heil, Campbell*
149 Matt Zovistoski, Appalachian State*
157 Austin Kraisser, Campbell
165 Quentin Perez, Campbell*
174 Forrest Przybysz, Appalachian State
184 Bryce Carr, Chattanooga*
197 Scottie Boykin, Chattanooga^
HWT Jere Heino, Campbell
* - 2017 SoCon champion at that weight class
^ - 2016 SoCon champion at that weight class