Appalachian State Leads With Four All-SoCon Wrestlers; ASU's Kyle Blevins Named Wrestler of the Year. The Southern Conference wrestling all-conference team and postseason awards were announced on
Tuesday, highlighted by four All-SoCon wrestlers from Appalachian State, including SoCon Wrestler of the Year Kyle Blevins.
Blevins, a senior wrestling at 165 pounds, was voted Wrestler of the Year after compiling a 33-5 overall mark and a perfect 6-0 record in conference dual matches. The Sapulpa, Okla., native has ascended to 15th nationally in the latest InterMat Wrestling national rankings and has recorded four victories this season by fall.
After winning its first regular season championship since 2003, Appalachian State placed a league-high four wrestlers on the all-conference team. Blevins was the coaches' choice at 165 pounds, and he was joined by fellow seniors Mike Kessler (141 pounds), Savva Kostis (149) and Austin Trotman (184). Trotman earned all-league honors for the third consecutive season.
Defending tournament champion Chattanooga and this year's third-place finisher, The Citadel, completed the remainder of the all-conference team with three wrestlers each.
Chattanooga senior Manny Ramirez, who earned all-SoCon honors at UNCG in 2011, repeated as an all-conference choice at 125 pounds. The Mocs' Nick Soto (133) and Dan Waddell (157) were also chosen.
The Citadel was very strong in the upper weights, claiming the honors at 174, 197 and heavyweight. Turtogtokh Luvsandorj, last year's SoCon Wrestler of the Year, was the choice at 174 pounds and was joined on the team by 197-pounder Kelby Smith and heavyweight Odie Delaney.
In addition to his all-conference selection, the conference's seven head coaches voted Soto as a unanimous choice for the league's Freshman of the Year. The Spring Hill, Fla., native, who was a perfect 6-0 in SoCon matches, enters this weekend's conference championship with a 22-6 overall record.
The league's head coaches also selected a 10-wrestler all-freshman team. SoCon wrestling newcomer Campbell earned half of the spots on the squad as five Fighting Camels earned distinction. Campbell was represented by James Cook, Mark Hartenstine, Ryan Krecker, Joe Nolan, and Joey Rizzolino.
Chattanooga's Soto and Kevin Malone were All-Freshman honorees, along with Paul Weiss of Appalachian State, The Citadel's Kyle Casaletto, and Davidson's Anthony Elias.
Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own wrestlers.
The 2012 Southern Conference Wrestling Championships, the 75th annual gathering of the league's wrestling teams, will take place on Saturday, March 3 at Chattanooga's McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tenn. First round matches will begin at 10 a.m., with the finals slated to start at 6:30 p.m.
2012 SoCon Wrestling All-Conference Team
125 Manuel Ramirez*, Sr., Chattanooga
133 Nick Soto, Fr., Chattanooga
141 Mike Kessler, Sr., Appalachian State
149 Savva Kostis*, Sr., Appalachian State
157 Dan Waddell*, Sr., Chattanooga
165 Kyle Blevins, Sr., Appalachian State
174 Turtogtokh Luvsandorj*, Jr., The Citadel
184 Austin Trotman#, Sr., Appalachian State
197 Kelby Smith, Sr., The Citadel
HWT Odie Delaney*, Jr., The Citadel
* - Two-time All-Conference
# - Three-time All-Conference
Wrestler of the Year
Kyle Blevins, 165, Sr., Appalachian State
2012 SoCon Wrestling All-Freshman Team
Paul Weiss, Appalachian State
James Cook, Campbell
Mark Hartenstine, Campbell
Ryan Krecker, Campbell
Joe Nolan, Campbell
Joey Rizzolino, Campbell
Kyle Casaletto, The Citadel
Anthony Elias, Davidson
Kevin Malone, Chattanooga
Nick Soto, Chattanooga
Freshman of the Year
Nick Soto, 133, Chattanooga
Photo Courtesy: Kyle Blevins, ASU Athletics