App State wrestling splits in SoCon duals against Campbell, Gardner-Webb


Andy McLean

App State redshirt senior Codi Russell (top, in white) opened the match against Campbell with an 8-3 decision over Zurich Storm to give the Mountaineers an early lead.

Ben Brady, Reporter

App State wrestling split its two Southern Conference duals Saturday, falling to Campbell’s comeback effort 21-17 before winning 28-6 against Gardner-Webb. The Mountaineers moved to 3-2 on the season and 3-1 in conference play. 

“We’ve gotta learn from it,” head coach JohnMark Bentley said. “I don’t care if we’ve got a big lead in a dual meet, every single guy that goes out there has to have the same mentality.”

Against Campbell, App State started hot, winning its first four matches to reach an early 17-6 lead. 

Redshirt senior Codi Russell (125 lbs), who is ranked 20th in his weight class in the InterMat national rankings, opened the dual with an 8-3 decision against Zurich Storm to give the Mountaineers a 3-0 lead. 

In the second matchup, Sophomore Sean Carter (133 lbs) won a 3-1 overtime decision over Gabe Hixenbaugh, capping off the contest with a take down in the final seconds of the overtime period. 

Redshirt junior Jonathan Millner (149 lbs) and redshirt sophomore Will Formato (165 lbs), who are also ranked in the InterMat top 20 and the top 25 by FloWrestling, each picked up decision victories to contribute to the early lead. However, the Mountaineers lost each of the next four matches, including two by pins against sophomore Julian Gorring (184 lbs) and redshirt sophomore Mason Fiscella (197 lbs), as the Camels stormed back to edge in front at 18-17.

In the final match, Campbell’s Taye Ghadiali recorded an 8-2 decision against heavyweight Michael Burchell.

“(In) the last four matches, we weren’t up for the fight, which was disappointing because our first six guys put us in a really good spot,”  Bentley said. “It’ll sting for a while, but hopefully we’ll learn from it.”

Against Gardner-Webb, Russell opened the contest with a 25-8 technical fall against Aedyn Concepcion, giving App State an early 5-0 lead. From there, the Mountaineers won five consecutive matches, including another tech fall by Millner, which increased their lead to 25-0. 

Included in these matches was a meeting of wrestlers with unbeaten SoCon Records, like Formato, who won a 2-1 decision against Rodrick Mosle.

Redshirt junior Anthony Brito overcame a 4-1 deficit in an 8-4 decision against Trevon Majette, producing two takedowns in the match. 

Russell, Carter, Brito, Millner and Formato each went 2-0 in the dual meet. Bentley expressed that their success stemmed from their ability to take control of the matches. 

“They were attacking and they were aggressive,”  Bentley said. “In each one of their matches, they were taking risks and scoring points, and that’s what you’ve got to do to win at a high level.”

The Mountaineers will return home in another SoCon dual meet on Jan. 31, beginning against Chattanooga at 2 p.m. and against Presbyterian at 5 p.m. The livestream will be available with a subscription to streaming service Rofkin.