Campbell wins 2022 Southern Conference Championships

From the Southern Conference

BOONE, N.C. – Campbell secured its fourth straight Southern Conference Wrestling Championship on Saturday at the Holmes Convocation Center in Boone, North Carolina. The Camels picked up three individual titles, while App State’s JohnMark Bentley earned coach of the year honors. App State’s Jonathan Millner (149) was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler and took home the 149-pound crown.

Campbell led the tournament with 100.5 points, with App State in a close second with 95. Chattanooga was third with 79 points, followed by Gardner-Webb (51), The Citadel (38.5), Davidson (12.5), VMI (12) and Presbyterian (6.5).

Bentley, who earns his fifth SoCon Coach of the Year accolade in his 12th season with the Mountaineers, was named the Southern Conference coach of the year after leading App State to the 2022 regular-season title with an undefeated league record (7-0).

The Camels had three champions in Shannon Hanna (141), Caleb Hopkins (184) and Taye Ghadiali (HWT). No. 1 seed Hanna, who was named to the All-Southern Conference team this week, defeated No. 2 Heath Gonyer in one of the two tiebreaking finales of the night, 10-1, allowing Campbell to hold on to a narrow team lead. No. 1 Hopkins entered Saturday’s championship as the No. 1 seed and upheld the title with an 8-3 decision over No. 3 Jha’Quan Anderson of Gardner-Webb. No. 1 Ghadiali, who was the one of two Campbell wrestlers to earn two or more SoCon wrestler of the week honors this season, closed out the night as the 285-pound champion with a 3-1 sudden victory over The Citadel’s Michael McAleavey, who was seeded second. No. 2 Austin Murphy and No. 1 Chris Kober, who claimed individual titles last season at 174 and 197 pounds, were the runners-up in their respective weight classes.

Campbell’s Hopkins was the tournament’s Pinnacle Award winner, given to the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team. The redshirt sophomore from Palmer, Alaska, majors in cyber security and holds a 4.00 GPA.

Tournament runner-up App State collected three individual titles, from Codi Russell (125), Millner (149) and Thomas Flitz (174). No. 2 Russell clinched the 125-pound title after a 7-4 decision over Chattanooga wrestler and all-conference selection and No. 1 seed Brayden Palmer. The super senior defeated No. 7 Dominic Chavez in the opening round before earning a 12-4 major decision over No. 6 Jake Rotunda to advance to the final match against Palmer. All-conference selection and SoCon Wrestler of the Year Millner kept the momentum going for the Mountaineers and took down No. 2 seed and three-time wrestler of the week award winner Josh Heil from Campbell in a hard-fought 5-4 battle, leading him to the championship title. Following his win over Heil, the Greensboro, North Carolina, native was tabbed the 2022 SoCon Wrestling tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. App State’s Flitz rounds out the three Mountaineers that claimed individual titles, with the Monroe, North Carolina, native securing a 6-1 decision over No. 5 John Hoover of VMI before downing No. 2 Murphy in the second tiebreaking final of the championship to claim the individual title at 174 pounds.

Chattanooga saw two wrestlers win individual titles, with No. 1 Fabian Gutierrez and No. 2 Matthew Waddell clinching the title wins at 125 and 197 pounds, respectively. Gutierrez earned the title after posting two falls in both the first round and quarterfinal match, taking down No. 8 Hale Robinson of Davidson in 1:53 before pinning No. 5 Malik Hardy of The Citadel in 3:44. The senior went on to defeat No. 3 Korbin Meink of Campbell in the finals, posting a 3-1 decision to earn the victory. The Mocs’ Waddell also earned individual honors, with the junior from Gilmer, Georgia, defeating VMI’s Tyler Mousaw in a 6-1 decision in the quarterfinal round before besting last year’s title winner, Campbell’s Meink, 3-1 in the final to clinch the win.

No. 3 RJ Mosley (165) led Gardner-Webb with an individual title, becoming the first Runnin’ Bulldog to capture a SoCon championship at 165 pounds since Tyler Marinelli in 2017. Mosley posted two dominant wins on his journey to the tournament crown, securing a 5-2 decision over No. 2 Will Formato of App State in the semifinals before earning a 4-3 decision over No. 1 seed and all-conference selection Drew Nicholson of Chattanooga in the finals to clinch the title. The Citadel’s Dazjon Casto earned the title at 157 pounds, winning the semifinal match over No. 4 Lincoln Heck of Chattanooga following an injury before earning a 5-4 decision over No. 2 Cody Bond of App State to take the crown.

In addition to the 10 individual champions, five other SoCon wrestlers earned automatic NCAA berths.

The NCAA Wrestling Selection Show will air on NCAA.com at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9. The 2022 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will be held at the Lite Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, on March 17-19.

Team standings
1. Campbell – 100.5
2. Appalachian State – 95.0
3. Chattanooga – 79.0
4. Gardner-Webb – 51.0
5. The Citadel – 38.5
6. Davidson – 12.5
7. VMI – 12.0
8. Presbyterian – 6.5

Individual champions/NCAA qualifiers
125 – Fabian Gutierrez, Chattanooga
133 – Codi Russell, App State
141 – Shannon Hanna, Campbell
149 – Jonathan Millner, App State
157 – Dazjon Casto, The Citadel
165 – RJ Mosley, Gardner-Webb
174 – Thomas Flitz, App State
184 – Caleb Hopkins, Campbell
197 – Matthew Waddell, Chattanooga
HWT – Taye Ghadiali, Campbell

Additional NCAA allocations
125 – Korbin Meink, Campbell
133 – Brayden Palmer, Chattanooga
149 – Joshua Heil, Campbell
165 – Drew Nicholson, Chattanooga
HWT – Michael McAleavey, The Citadel

Southern Conference Coach of the Year
JohnMark Bentley, App State

Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler
Jonathan Millner, 149, App State

2021 NCAA Qualifiers/Champs/AAs: 21/0/1

2021 Team Standings: 1. Campbell – 92; 2. Appalachian State – 87; 3. Chattanooga – 64; 4. Gardner-Webb – 50; 5. The Citadel – 43.5; 6. VMI – 18; 7. Presbyterian – 6.5.

2021 Individual Champs/Runner-ups: 125 – Codi Russell (ASU)/Zurich Storm (Camp.); 133 – Sean Carter (ASU)/Jake Rotunda (Citadel); 141 – Anthony Brito (ASU)/Shannon Hanna (Camp.); 149 – Jonathan Millner (ASU)/Josh Heil (Camp.); 157 – Cody Bond (ASU)/Ben Barton (Camp.); 165 – Andrew Nicholson (Chatt.)/Dazjon Casto (Citadel); 174 – Austin Murphy (Camp.)/Thomas Flitz (ASU); 184 – Caleb Hopkins (Camp.)/Matt Waddell (Chatt.); 197 – Chris Kober (Camp.)/Logan Andrew (Chatt.); Hwt – Michael McAleavey (Citadel)/Taye Ghadiali (Camp.).

All-Time Team Championships (Started in 1930) – School-No. (Last title): Chattanooga – 29 (2015); VMI – 9 (1997); Appalachian State – 8 (2018); Virginia Tech – 7 (1963, left SoCon in 1965); Washington & Lee – 7 (1950, currently a Div. III program); East Carolina – 5 (1976, dropped program in 1981); West Virginia – 5 (1966, left SoCon in 1968); William & Mary – 5 (1977, dropped program in 1995); Campbell – 4 (2021); The Citadel – 2 (2004); UNC-Greensboro – 2 (2010, dropped program in 2011); Maryland – 2 (1953, left SoCon in 1953); North Carolina – 2 (1947, left SoCon in 1953).

2022 Top Storylines:

• Because the SoCon features the fewest national qualifiers, the conference championship finals mean perhaps more than any other NCAA qualifier. 

• This year’s toughest SoCon championship could come at 149, where Appalachian State’s Jon Millner and Campbell’s Josh Heil — both ranked by WIN — could meet in a rematch from 2021. The two schools are not scheduled to meet in a regular-season dual until Feb. 13. In last year’s SoCon, the Camels won a third straight title by edging out ASU by a five-point margin. 

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