Campbell picked No. 1 in preseason wrestling poll
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Coming off a 2018-19 season that saw it take the Southern Conference Wrestling Championship for the first time since 2015, Campbell has been selected as the preseason favorite for the 2019-20 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. Three athletes received the maximum number of points possible to be selected to the preseason all-conference team.
After winning the 2019 SoCon Championship, Campbell received seven first-place votes and 49 points in the 2019-20 preseason poll. Last season, the Camels went 5-1 in conference matchups, going 7-1 overall with four individual conference champions and the coach of the year, Cary Kolat.
The Camels have five wrestlers selected to the preseason All-SoCon squad in Korbin Meink (125 pounds), Josh Heil (141 pounds), Quentin Perez (165 pounds), Andrew Morgan (184 pounds) and Jere Heino (heavyweight). Meink and Heil were both conference champions in their respective weight classes and made it to the second day at the NCAA Championships last season. Meink compiled a record of 15-12 last season, while Heil finished the year at 24-9. Morgan also reached the second day of the NCAA Championships following a runner-up finish at the conference championship, ending his year with a 25-10 record. Perez and Heino notched 13 and three wins, respectively, while redshirting during the 2018-19 season.
Appalachian State edged out Chattanooga for second with 41 points after a 9-7 record last season, which included a 5-1 mark in conference duals. The Mountaineers placed a pair of wrestlers on the preseason squad in Codi Russell (133 pounds) and Matt Zovistoski (149 pounds), with Zovistoski receiving the max number of points possible in the voting. Russell earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Championships and finished 1-2 after taking the title at 133 pounds at the SoCon Championship. Russell compiled an overall record of 22-12 on the season. Zovistoski also competed at the NCAA Championships, earning an at-large berth after posting a record of 27-15 during the regular season.
Chattanooga was picked to finish third with 39 points, including one first-place vote. The Mocs also went 5-1 in the conference last year, finishing with a 7-7 record overall. Tanner Smith (149 pounds) and Rodney Jones (197 pounds) represent Chattanooga on the preseason all-conference squad. Smith, the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, posted a 12-9 mark last season as he finished runner-up at the SoCon Championship, earning a bid to the NCAA Championships. Jones also made an appearance at the NCAA Championships after a 20-20 season. Jones punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships with an 8-7 victory in the second tiebreaker of the true second-place match of the conference tournament.
The Citadel is slated to finish fourth by the league’s coaches after receiving 28 points, with Gardner-Webb close behind in fifth with 26 points. The Bulldogs finished last year at 2-10 overall and 2-4 in conference, while Gardner-Webb went 3-12 overall and 1-5 in conference.
VMI was picked to finish sixth, with Neal Richards (174 pounds) representing the Keydets on the preseason squad, receiving the max number of points possible. Richards, the regular-season Wrestler of the Year and Most Outstanding Wrestler at the conference tournament, claimed the individual title at the SoCon Championship. He capped off one of the best seasons in VMI wrestling history by earning a trip to the NCAA Championships and finishing the season with a record of 28-6.
Davidson and Presbyterian rounded out the preseason poll, coming in at seventh and eighth, respectively. The Wildcats finished 2-13 overall last season, while the Blue Hose begins their first year of competition in the SoCon.
The 2019-20 wrestling season gets underway on Nov 1. The Southern Conference Wrestling Championship will take place March 8, 2020, on the campus of Appalachian State, in Boone, North Carolina.
2019-20 SoCon Wrestling Preseason Coaches Poll
School (First-place votes) Points
1. Campbell (7) 49
2. Appalachian State 41
3. Chattanooga (1) 39
4. The Citadel 28
5. Gardner-Webb 26
6. VMI 20
7. Davidson 14
8. Presbyterian 7
2019-20 SoCon Wrestling Preseason All-Conference Team
125 Korbin Meink, Campbell
133 Codi Russell, Appalachian State
141 Josh Heil, Campbell
149 Tanner Smith, Chattanooga
157 Matt Zovistoski, Appalachian State
165 Quentin Perez, Campbell
174 Neal Richards, VMI
184 Andrew Morgan, Campbell
197 Rodney Jones, Chattanooga
HWT Jere Heino, Campbell