Wrestling team survives nail-biter, remains unbeaten in SoCon

Chelsey Fisher

The Appalachian wrestling team (6-2, 3-0 SoCon) held off the Campbell University Fighting Camels on Tuesday at home with a final score of 16-15.

Coach John Mark Bentley and his team picked up right where they left off last year and have now extended their SoCon win streak to 11 straight victories, including three this year against Gardner-Webb, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and now Campbell.

“We’ll always take wins,” Bentley said. “That was a good team we beat tonight”
The Camels got off to a fast start behind decisions by juniors Brent Jorge at 149 pounds and Nick Rex 157 pounds. The two matches resulted in 6-0 Campbell-lead after two sets.

Redshirt freshman Zack Strickland dominated his 165-pound opponent resulting in a major decision worth four points to the Mountaineers. Strickland’s extra point outing would prove to be the deciding point in the razor-close win. He remains undefeated on the season, a perfect 8-0 in duels, according to GoASU.com.

Strickland’s win set the wheels of the team in motion and, combined with decisions by freshman Colin Hedash, sophomore Jake Johnson and redshirt sophomore Paul Weiss, put the Mountaineers up.
“I felt like we could have closed it out a lot earlier,” Bentley said. “But we’re getting better every time we wrestle.”

Campbell answered ASU’s streak with a two-match streak of their own, including a heavyweight matchup of 6-foot, 174-pound Nick Vetell versus Campbell’s 6-foot-6-inch, 285-pound Joe Nolan to bring the score to 13-12, with App in the lead. Although the undersized Vetell would lose the match, he was able to hold Nolan to only three points for the Camels.

“It sucked,” Vetell said. “It wasn’t easy. I kind of had to take one for the team. Coach asked me if I could do it and I went out there and did the best I could.”

Senior Brett Boston came away with a decision in the 133-pound match, putting the Mountaineers in a position to win.

Junior Chris Johnson’s job was set in the last match – hold Campbell to three points or less – although Campbell’s Michael Dahlstrom narrowly edged Johnson.

Appalachian held on to beat Campbell 16-15.

Bentley sees his men gearing up and looking toward the postseason.

“The season is still young, and the main thing that matters is March,” he said. “We’ll have our guys ready come March.”

The Mountaineer wrestling squad will meet at home on Friday at 6:30 p.m. to take on The Citadel.

Story: JESSE WARE, Sports Reporter