Mountaineers defeat Mocs, remain undefeated in SoCon


Courtesy of Andy McLean, App State Athletics

Redshirt senior Jon Jon Millner takes down his opponent in his 4-0 victory Feb. 5, 2023.

Trey Blake, Reporter

No. 20 App State wrestling was back in conference play Sunday, defeating the Chattanooga Mocs 25-6. 

The Mountaineers won eight of 10 matches, which saw five shutouts, to secure the victory in a battle that saw two 4-0 teams in the SoCon. 

“You know the standings matter, but it was just another match. Every match is important,” said head coach JohnMark Bentley. “We’ve got a ton of history with them … last year we went to Chattanooga and came out with a win, but it was closer than we wanted it to be.”

The first match of the night kicked off at 149 pounds with No. 9 redshirt senior Jon Jon Millner facing off against Noah Castillo. The match started uncharacteristically slow for Millner, netting zero points in two periods. An early third period takedown and two minutes and some change of ride time gave the All-American the 4-0 victory. 

The second match of the night saw No. 28 sophomore Tommy Askey against Lincoln Heck in the 157-pound bout. Askey dominated the match as he used a masterclass of a third period to win 13-3 and secure bonus points for the Black and Gold, moving the overall score 7-0 in favor of App State. 

The next match saw 165-pound No. 26 redshirt junior Will Formato matching up against Weston Wichman. Formato netted a couple early takedowns within the first two periods and rode them along with ride time to get a 7-0 victory and push this match to double digits in favor of the Mountaineers.

Formato was named SoCon wrestler of the week this past week. 

“It’s awesome. I really appreciate it, but you know it’s a small reward and not a big part of the picture. I’m looking forward,” Formato said. “I have a lot of wrestling left and I am excited for that future.”

The following two matches saw both Mountaineers go in against ranked wrestlers in No. 27 sophomore Will Miller at 174-pound and 184-pound redshirt freshman Luke Uliano. Miller faced off against 11th ranked Rocky Jordan and Uliano against No. 26 Matthew Waddell. Neither wrestler achieved much throughout their bouts with Miller, falling 10-3 and Uliano losing 5-1 to bring the overall match to 10-6 App State. 

The sixth and seventh bouts saw a complete change in pace from the previous, as 197-pound freshman Carson Floyd and heavyweight junior Jacob Sartorio both notched shut outs along with big ride time to extend the lead back to 10 at 16-6 Mountaineers. 

The eighth match of the night saw 125-pound redshirt sophomore No. 11 Caleb Smith take on Logan Ashton. The two stalemated for a while until a takedown from Smith ignited the action. After the takedown, Ashton escaped and got a two-point near fall, but Smith reversed it and kept control to win the match 8-5. 

The closest match of the night saw 133-pound redshirt freshman Ethan Oakley against No. 13 Brayden Palmer. Both wrestlers were deadlocked with only one point from a Palmer escape and no ride time from either wrestler at the end of the second period. The final period saw Oakley get an escape of his own but failed to capitalize on that move. With 18 seconds left, Oakley got a take down on the nationally ranked wrestler and controlled him for the rest of the time to pick up the upset victory. 

Oakley, who took on the mantle of the 133-pound starting role when junior Sean Carter went down with a season ending injury, described the win:. 

“It’s pretty awesome, it was a big win for me. It is just one win though so I’ll keep training and hopefully achieve All-American,” Oakley said.

The final match saw a 141-pound battle where sophomore Heath Gonyer took on Franco Valdes. The match went along with most of the App State victories with Gonyer shutting out Valdes and dominating from bell to bell. Gonyer got the 3-0 victory and gave the Black and Gold a 25-6 overall win.

“Every single match is important and every guy needs to be battle tested,” Bentley said. “I was super proud of our guys today. They scored a lot of points and they were super aggressive.”

App State wrestling is back in action Feb. 19 when they take on Campbell, Presbyterian and Davidson at 2 p.m. at the Varsity Gym in Boone.