3-peat! Camels clinch 3rd straight SoCon title
BOONE, N.C. – Campbell held off a late Appalachian State surge to claim its third consecutive Southern Conference Wrestling Championship on Sunday at the Holmes Convocation Center.
With eight Camels making finals appearances, Campbell held an 83-70 advantage heading into the consolation finals before the Mountaineers took an 87-86 lead, winning five individual titles at 125, 133, 141, 149 and 157.
Four of those included head to head matchups between the Camels and Mountaineers (125, 141, 149 and 157).
Austin Murphy gave Campbell the go-ahead title clinching points at 174 pounds, earning first period back points and hanging on for a 9-3 decision over App State's Thomas Flitz. Chris Kober added to CU's lead at 197 pounds, defeating Chattanooga's Logan Andrew 3-1, securing a third individual Campbell champion.
Campbell finished with 92 team points, staving off Appalachian State's 87. Chattanooga took third with 64 points, followed by Gardner-Webb (50), The Citadel (43.5), VMI (18) and Presbyterian (6.5).
Five Camels secured NCAA berths on the day, with three tournament champions, including Murphy, Kober and Caleb Hopkins at 184 pounds. Two Camels also took true place wins, with Josh Heil at 149 pounds and Taye Ghadiali at heavyweight earning NCAA berths.
The SoCon was awarded two NCAA berths at three weight classes, including 149 pounds, 184 and heavyweight.
Heil becomes Campbell's first four-time NCAA qualifier, while Kober picked up his second NCAA appearance, joined by first time qualifiers Murphy, Hopkins and Ghadiali.
Eight Camels finished on the podium, with five runner-ups to go along with their three individual champions.
Campbell's head coach Scotti Sentes was named the SoCon Coach of the Year, sweeping the league's regular season and tournament championships in his first season at the helm.
Hopkins also earned the 2021 SoCon Pinnacle Award, given to the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship winning team.
Chattanooga's Andrew Nicholson, meanwhile, was named the Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler, winning the 165 title as the No. 3 seed.
Top-seeded Murphy, a junior from Cincinnati, Ohio, reached the finals with a 6-1 decision over Chattanooga's Carial Tarter after earning a first round bye.
Another one of Campbell's four No. 1 seeds, Kober locked in a first period fall over GWU's Sam Mora (1:17) to reach the finals.
After going unbeaten in SoCon matches at 7-0 during the regular season, Hopkins clinched his first NCAA Championships berth with a 5-2 decision over Chattanooga's Matthew Waddell at 184 pounds. The Palmer, Alaska native also blanked VMI's Zach Brown 4-0 in the semifinals after receiving a first round bye.
Making his fourth SoCon finals appearance, Heil, a three-time conference champion, suffered his first ever defeat at the hands of a SoCon opponent, with App State's Jonathan Millner taking the 2-1 decision in the title bout. Heil clinched a spot in the finals with a pair of bonus wins, pinning PC's Reid Stewart (2:07) and registered an 11-3 major decision over Gardner-Webb's Brandon Bright, officially earning his ticket to the NCAA Championships with a 4-3 true place decision over The Citadel's Selwyn Porter.
Ghadiali also gained an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships, taking runner-up at heavyweight in a 5-3 decision against The Citadel's Michael McAleavey. The redshirt freshman, seeded third in the tournament, opened the day with a 20-5 tech fall over Presbyterian's Airin Spell, and topped Anthony Perrine of Gardner-Webb 3-1 in extra time.
Seeded third at 125, Zurich Storm made his first SoCon finals appearance, topping No. 2 seed Fabian Gutierrez from UTC, 8-6 in overtime before falling 11-4 to App State's Codi Russell in the title round. Storm opened the day with a pin over GWU's Aedyn Concepcion (2:03).
Making the final at 141 pounds, Hanna, seeded fourth, opened the tournament with a 20-5 tech fall over PC's Jacob Brasseur before taking down top-seeded Franco Valdes from Chattanooga, 4-2 in extra time. He fell to App State's Anthony Brito, 7-3, in the finals.
Making his second SoCon finals appearance after earning the conference title in 2019, Barton took App State's Cody Bond to overtime, but fell 10-5, placing second. Barton defeated VMI's Blake Showers with an 18-7 major decision in the 157 semifinals.
Campbell, also winners of three-straight SoCon regular season championships, has now claimed four of the last five SoCon tournament titles.
The NCAA Championships are set for March 18-20 in St. Louis, Missouri.
1. Campbell – 92.0
2. Appalachian State - 87.0
3. Chattanooga - 64.0
4. Gardner-Webb – 50.0
5. The Citadel - 43.5
6. VMI – 18.0
7. Presbyterian – 6.5
Campbell Individual Champions/NCAA qualifiers
174 – Austin Murphy
184 – Caleb Hopkins
197 – Chris Kober
Additional Campbell NCAA allocations
149 – Josh Heil
HWT – Taye Ghadiali
Southern Conference Coach of the Year
Scotti Sentes, Campbell
Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler
Andrew Nicholson, 165, Chattanooga
Pinnacle Award (student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team)
Caleb Hopkins, Campbell
Campbell Individual Placers
125 – Zurich Storm, 2nd
141 – Shannon Hanna, 2nd
149 – Josh Heil, 2nd
157 – Benjamin Barton, 2nd
174 – Austin Murphy, 1st
184 – Caleb Hopkins, 1st
197 – Chris Kober, 1st
HWT – Taye Ghadiali, 2nd