BOONE, N.C. – Campbell University claimed the 2019 Southern Conference Wrestling Championship on Sunday, picking up four individual titles as well as coach of the year honors. VMI’s Neal Richards was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.
Campbell University paced the field, scoring 95.0 points. Last season’s champions, Appalachian State, who came in second, totaled 92.5 points. Chattanooga, was third with 62.0 points, followed by The Citadel (42.5), Gardner-Webb (24.5), Davidson (22.5) and VMI (17.0).
Campbell’s Cary Kolat was named the league’s coach of the year after leading his program to its first title since 2015 and a 5-1 conference record.
The Camels had four champions in Korbin Meink (125), Joshua Heil (149), Benjamin Barton (157) and Chris Kober (184). Meink, entering Sunday as the No. 2 seed, claimed the 125-individual title after defeating Appalachian State’s DeAndre Swinson-Barr by a 9-3 decision to advance to the final and then defeating Chattanooga’s Alonzo Allen by a 6-0 decision. Russell also entered the day as the No. 2 seed in the 133 pound bracket and fought his way to an individual title by taking down VMI’s Cliff Conway, Davidson’s Kyle Gorant and Campbell’s Noah Gosner.
Barton defeated Appalachian State’s Angel Najar and Davidson’s Tony Palumbo en route to his individual title while Kober, seeded second, went through Gardner-Webb’s Nathanial Kale and Chattanooga’s Dominic Lampe to claim the 184-individual title.
Campbell’s Noah Gosner finished runner up at 133 pounds while Nathan Boston finished third in the 141 bracket.
VMI’s Neal Richards was named the 2019 Most Outstanding Wrestler. The redshirt-junior breezed past his competition first defeating Gardner-Webb’s Kyle Homet by a 10-4 decision and then Campbell’s Andrew Morgan by a 16-6 major decision to claim the 174 individual title and continue his standout season.
Appalachian State finished the championship with three individual champions. Codi Russell was victorious at 125 pounds, while Randall Diabe and Cary Miller claimed titles at 197 and HWT, respectively.
The Mountaineers saw three runners-up in Irvin Enriquez (141), Michael Elliott (165) and Alan Clothier (184). DeAndre Swinson-Barr finished third in the 125-pound class while Matt Zovistoski finished third in the 149 class.
Chris Debien was Chattanooga’s lone individual champion of the tournament at 141 pounds. The junior from Cleveland, Tennessee, went into the tournament as the No. 1 seed and was given a bye in the first round. He then had to go through Gardner-Webb’s Blake Mulkey before squaring off against Appalachian State’s Irvin Enriquez, beating him by a 12-7 decision.
The Mocs Allen took second in the 125 division while Huffine (133), Smith (149), Resnick (157), Lampe (184) and Rodney Jones (197) took third in their respective divisions.
The Citadel’s Sawyer Root was within a point of claiming the 197-pound individual title but fell just short to Appalachian State’s Randall Diabe. Root is joined by teammates No 4 seed and freshman Dazjon Casto who claimed third place in the 165 bout after claiming victory over Campbell’s Cameron Pine by major decision in the third place match. Michael McAleavey won by fall against Chattanooga’s Connor Tolley to claim third in the heavyweight class.
Gardner-Webb’s sole winner was Marinelli in the 165 division. Marinelli entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed and fought his away to victory by going through The Citadel’s Dazjon Casto and Appalachian State’s Michael Elliott. Marinelli won both matches by a decision, with his win over Elliott ending in an 8-0 major decision.
Davidson’s Tony Palumbo finished runner-up to Campbell’s Benjamin Barton in the 157 division, dropping the championship match by a 4-1 decision. Palumbo took down Appalachian State’s Angel Najar by an 8-2 decision before falling to Barton.
Campbell’s Austin McNeill was the tournament’s Pinnacle Award winner, giving to the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team. A redshirt-junior from Fenton, Michigan, McNeill is majoring in homeland security and holds a 3.6 grade point average.
In addition to the 10 individual champions, two other SoCon wrestlers earned automatic NCAA berths: Chattanooga’s Rodney Jones at 197 and Campbell’s Andrew Morgan at 174 pounds.
The NCAA Wrestling Selection show will air on NCAA.com at 6 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, March 13. The 2019 NCAA Championships will take place March 21-23 at PPG Paints Area in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
1. Campbell – 95.0
2. Appalachian State – 92.5
3. Chattanooga – 62.0
4. The Citadel – 42.5
5. Gardner-Webb – 24.5
6. Davidson – 22.5
7. VMI – 17.0
Individual champions/NCAA qualifiers
125 – Korbin Meink, Campbell
133 – Codi Russell, Appalachian State
141 – Chris Debien, Chattanooga
149 – Joshua Heil, Campbell
157 – Benjamin Barton, Campbell
165 – Tyler Marinelli, Gardner-Webb
174 – Neal Richards, VMI
184 – Chris Kober, Campbell
197 – Randall Diabe, Appalachian State
HWT – Cary Miller, Appalachian State
Additional NCAA allocations
197 – Rodney Jones, Chattanooga
Southern Conference Coach of the Year
Cary Kolat, Campbell
Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler
Neal Richards, 174, VMI
Pinnacle Award (student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team)
Austin McNeill, Campbell