App State wrestling goes 2-0 in SoCon duals on Senior Day


Andy McLean

App State senior Codi Russell wrestles against Chattanooga’s Fabian Gutierrez in Boone on Sunday. Russell won the matchup of top-25 ranked opponents with a 4-3 decision.

Dan Davidson, Former Sports Editor

App State wrestling swept SoCon foes Chattanooga and Presbyterian on Senior Day in Boone over the weekend. 

“Overall, it’s always good to get two wins,” head coach JohnMark Bentley said. “Chattanooga’s a good team and they always get up to wrestle us. We have a little bit of a rivalry there.”

The Mountaineers opened the meet against the Chattanooga Mocs, who entered the weekend unbeaten in conference play. 

App State’s Codi Russell took on Chattanooga’s Fabian Gutierrez in a contest-opening matchup featuring two nationally ranked 125-pound wrestlers. 

Gutierrez held a late 3-2 lead until Russell completed a takedown with less than a minute remaining. Russell prevented Gutierrez from escaping and secured the clutch 4-3 decision. 

App State stretched out an 11-point team lead before the Mocs scratched back within four points heading into the heavyweight division. The visitors were in need of a bonus-point win, but Michael Burchell took down Chattanooga’s Grayson Walthall with one and a half minutes left to earn a 4-1 victory. The Mountaineers won 20-13. 

“I don’t necessarily think we wrestled with the emotion that I’d liked to have seen us wrestle with in that first match,” Bentley said. “But at the end of the day, a lot of guys dug down deep and got it done.”

The second match of the day generated less drama as App State trounced Presbyterian 54-0. The Mountaineers have shutout three of their six SoCon opponents this year. 

App State recognized eight seniors on Senior Day, including two student managers. Paul Carson, Thomas Flitz, Ramon Rodriguez, Codi Russell, De’Andre Swinson-Barr and Tim Warren were all acknowledged for their careers in the Black and Gold. Russell and Flitz each went 2-0 on the day and have 70 and 63 career wins, respectively. 

Carson and Swinson-Barr are both battling injuries, but Carson has 30 career wins and Swinson-Barr is a two-year starter and earned third place in the SoCon Championships as a sophomore. 

Thanks to the NCAA’s decision to grant all student athletes a free year of eligibility due to the impacts of COVID-19 on college athletics, all seniors have the option to return to Boone next season.

The Mountaineers travel to Lexington, Virginia to cap off the regular season against SoCon competition VMI and The Citadel on Friday.