Wrestling finishes perfect in conference, secures regular season title


Courtesy of Bret Strelow, App State Athletics

Super senior Thomas Flitz battles with a Wildcat wrestler during App State’s match at Davidson Friday.

Ben Brady, Reporter

App State wrestling wrapped up its regular season with a pair of dominant Southern Conference dual victories. The Mountaineers cruised past Davidson College 34-6 Friday to clinch the SoCon regular-season championship. They then shutout Presbyterian College 46-0 Sunday to finish undefeated in conference competition this season. 

The Mountaineers won their first seven matches Friday, as redshirt sophomore Caleb Smith started action with a 6-0 victory following a second-period pinfall in the 125-pound match. 

Super senior Codi Russell picked up a 6-4 decision in the 133-pound match before sophomore Heath Gonyer, No. 4 redshirt junior Jonathan Millner and redshirt senior Cody Bond picked up major decisions at 141 pounds, 149 pounds and 157 pounds, respectively.

 No. 20 redshirt junior Will Formato rode out the third period in the 165-pound match to secure a 2-0 decision before super senior Thomas Flitz won the 174-pound match with a 10-2 major decision, increasing the Mountaineers’ lead to 28-0.

 Davidson put points on the board after two close victories, as redshirt sophomore Brett Mordecai fell 5-3 in the 184-pound match and freshman Wyatt Miller fell 3-2 in the 197-pound match, but redshirt junior Michael Burchell secured a pin in the final match to solidify the Mountaineers’ victory.   

App State improved to 8-2 overall and 6-0 in their conference this season, becoming conference champions for the fifth time in the past seven seasons. Head coach JohnMark Bentley praised his team for executing when the top seed was on the line. 

“It was really big for us to clinch a conference title,“ Bentley said. “That’s what was riding on this match tonight was to try to finish up and secure the outright conference championship, so I’m obviously proud of our guys for that.” 

The Mountaineers traveled to Presbyterian Sunday for their final conference and regular season match before SoCon tournament competition. They didn’t lose a single match to the Blue Hose, earning bonus points in all individual matches. Millner, Russell, Gonyer, Formato and Miller secured fall victories, while Smith, Bond, Flitz, Burchell and redshirt junior Barrett Blakely all picked up major decisions. 

The Mountaineers finish the regular season with a perfect conference record for the third time in six seasons. Bentley’s focus quickly shifts toward making sure his team is prepared for the conference tournament.

“We’ll have a good training cycle this coming week,” Bentley said. “All eyes will be on getting sharp, making sure our guys are feeling good and getting that extra work in so we can go to the conference tournament, be aggressive and score points.”

The SoCon Tournament begins March 5 at the Holmes Convocation Center.