photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com
Conference season is upon us. This week we have five DI conferences in action and each day, we’ll bring a new preview. With the EIWA, MAC, and Pac-12 out of the way, let’s go down south to check out the SoCon Championships. Like everything in this “new normal,” the SoCon meet will have a slightly different look this year. Davidson cannot participate in the tournament as they were forced to pause team activities due to a positive COVID test.
The action on the match will look familiar compared to recent SoCon Championships as we project a razor-thin margin on the team race front. Appalachian State and Campbell have gone down to the wire in recent years, but the Camels have emerged victorious in each of the last two conference tournaments. While this will be the first conference meet under head coach Scotti Sentes, don’t expect any growing pains. Campbell went 8-1 in dual action this year, with their only loss coming on the first weekend of the season to fifth-ranked Virginia Tech. If there is a slip-up by Campbell, expect App State to pounce. The Mountaineers lost a close 21-17 clash to their in-state rivals in a de-facto SoCon dual championship in late-January. Head Coach John Mark Bentley continues to churn out ranked wrestlers that flew under the recruiting radar of experts coming out of high school. Four ASU wrestlers finished the year ranked in the top-20 of their respective weights and none were considered blue-chippers upon their arrival in Boone. The once-dominant team in the conference, Chattanooga, is a threat and shouldn’t be overlooked. They will probably fare better in a tournament format compared to duals, this year.
After the big three teams are Gardner-Webb, The Citadel, Presbyterian, and VMI. With the exception of Gardner-Webb, the other programs in the SoCon are under the direction of relatively new coaching staffs and attempting to load up to compete with the likes of ASU, Campbell, and Chattanooga.
This conference only has been allocated 13 automatic berths at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, so the intensity levels will be high as wrestlers compete for those precious spots.
Below, we’ve gone through each weight class and previewed its competitors and made predictions for the finals, along with national qualifiers, and the team race.
When: Sunday, February 28th
Where: Boone, North Carolina
1st - #19 Codi Russell (Appalachian State)
2nd - #23 Fabian Gutierrez (Chattanooga)
3rd - Zurich Storm (Campbell)
4th - Benny Gomez (Presbyterian)
5th - Jordie White (The Citadel)
6th - Aedyn Concepcion (Gardner-Webb)
7th - Cliff Conway (VMI)
Automatic NCAA Qualifying Spots Available (1)
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