Courtesy of App State Athletics/Tim Cowie
The App State wrestling team picked up a pair of dominant Southern Conference wins on Sunday to improve to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in the conference. In the first match of the doubleheader, the Mountaineers shutout Presbyterian 48-0, which gave head coach JohnMark Bentley his 100th career victory. After that, App State defeated Davidson 41-3.
“We had a lot of great things happen today,” Bentley said. “We got a lot of reps in, which was big for our guys right now.”
App State won every match against Presbyterian and lost only one against Davidson. The Mountaineers took control of both matches early on and didn’t look back.
“I felt like we dominated all those matches pretty much from start to finish and we finished those matches scoring,” Bentley said. “That’s something we always talk about, we want to make sure we’re finishing periods on top. I was proud of our guys, proud of our effort.”
Although the 100-win mark is an impressive milestone, it’s not the type of thing that Bentley cares much about.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that I was even getting close to 100. I never really focused on it until they announced it today,” Bentley said. “I’ve coached a lot of great teams and a lot of great wrestlers. (I’ve) just been very fortunate. I think it’s more humbling than anything else. (I’m) just thankful and humbled.”
Since Bentley became the head coach in 2009, the Mountaineer wrestling program has built a tradition of success. Bentley has won four straight regular season conference titles, a pair of conference tournament titles and four SoCon Coach of the Year awards. He has coached 32 NCAA qualifiers and three All-Americans.
“Winning is expected in this program — it’s tradition,” sophomore 149-weight class Jonathan Millner said. “You (have) to go out there and earn everyday. This is a full-time job for us — you come to work, you do your job and go home. That’s the way it is, and that’s the way we treat it.”
Before he got into coaching, Bentley was a four-time state champion wrestler at nearby Avery County High School. He continued his wrestling career at UNC, where he went on to win three ACC Championships. He finished his career sixth in UNC history with a .851 winning percentage, winning 92 matches for the Tar Heels.
On Sunday, nine Mountaineers came away from the doubleheader with 2-0 records. Senior heavyweight Cary Miller, senior 157-weight class Matt Zovitoski and Millner each recorded a pin on the day.
“I just exploded through, as hard as I could, and I was able to hold him on his back,” Miller said on his first-round pin against Davidson.
Although App State controlled both matches, Millner talked about the importance of treating each opponent the same way.
“In college wrestling, there’s no such thing as an easy win, really,” Millner said. “You (have) to treat them all the same, that’s how you (don’t) get caught slipping.”
App State has won each of the last four SoCon regular season championships and winning a fifth straight is a goal the Mountaineers have set for themselves.
“It’s really important to set the tone in conference, going 3-0,” Millner said. “(We’re) just trying to get five straight, that’s the goal.”
Next up for the Mountaineers is a home non-conference match against Lock Haven on Thursday, Jan. 16. The match is set to start at 6:30 p.m. in Varsity Gym.