Wednesday, March 6, 2024

2024 SOUTHERN CONFERENCE Preview (Saturday March 9th)


When doing my previews & reviews for the NCAA DII & DIII qualifiers, I mentioned often that in those Divisions there wasn't much room for error.  How in NCAA DI, things were a bit different and if you wrestled well enough throughout the season, there would most likely be an allocation waiting for you at the end of the year.  If you failed to earn that allocation, then you might be able to lean back on an at large bid to gain entry to the NCAA tournament.  Well, that is the case in a lot of areas of NCAA Division I, but the Southern Conference isn't one of them. 

Here in the SOCON, you better earn the allocation given, because when it comes time to hand out the Wildcards, year after year, this is the very last place they look.  Some would argue that it's justified and fair & at some weights, I'd have to concur.  At others, not so much.  There will be some good wrestlers who do not make it out of the SOCON this tournament. 

125 lbs 

At the beginning of the season Brayden Palmer of Chattanooga knocked off Marcus Blaze who many are already predicting will be a multiple time NCAA champ during his career, 6-4 at the Clarion Open.  Now here we are about a half a year later & the only way he's making a trip to the NCAA DI tournament if he can defeat an extremely tough Anthony Molton of Campbell, who wants that Q every bit as bad as he does.  13-2 on the season, what's being held against Palmer here is a bad Southern Scuffle showing back in January.  Thus far he's qualified twice for nationals with SOCON finishes of 3rd & 1st.  Molton is 18-4 on the season, an NCAA qualifier in his own right.  

133 lbs

The SOCON has three allocations here at 133 lbs & as long as the sun comes up tomorrow, I'm pretty sure these are the three who are going to take them.  It's been quite a feud between Ethan Oakley of Appalachian State & Domenick Zaccone of Campbell thus far.  At last year's SOCON championships, Zaccone edged Oakley for true-2nd (as well as qualification honors) in sudden victory. This year the two have split with Oakley winning a 14-8 decision & Zaccone winning a 9-6 decision.   It's a final that might not happen though, as Blake Boarman of Chattanooga has already proven that he can beak Oakley.  He stuck the Mountaineer at the 4:37 mark.  Meanwhile Zaccone owns a 5-2 decision over Boarman. 

Isaiah Powe
141 lbs 

It's been quite the season for the Alabama freshman as he post a current record of 21-2.  3rd at the Southern Scuffle, among a few close matches, he has more or less dominated conference competition. I can't see anyone challenging him for a title, although the battle for runner-up honors might get interesting.  There's no way we'll see an at large here though.  Powe will be our sole qualifier. 

149 lbs 

Two allocations here at 149 lbs, which leads me to believe that we could end up seeing a very good semi-final between Noah Castillo of Chattanooga & Zach Price of Gardner Webb.  Castillo edged Price at the Southern Scuffle 9-4 in the consolation semi-finals.  He finished in 4th place as Price took 5th.  Meanwhile, our likely SOCON champ, Cody Bond of Appalachian State took runner-up honors. 

157 lbs

19-5 on the season, Tommy Askey of Appalachian State won a SOCON title last season & I say the Mountaineer does it again. He's had a few close matches within the conference, but for the most part has majored & tech'd his way through.  Should bring home SOCON gold without much issue. 

165 lbs 

The Southern Conference takes two at 165 lbs & I'm very confident that our champion here will be Will Miller of Appalachian State who was a SOCON runner-up last season.  He has a 6:25 fall over Bryce Sanderlin of Davidson, an 8-0 major decision over Benji Haubert of Citadel & an 8-2 decision over Dom Baker of Campbell.  As to who our other finalist will be?  That I'm not sold on quite yet.  Baker has wins over both Haubert & Sanderlin, but both were close matches decided on one takedown.  In fact, his match with Sanderlin went into over time.  Haubert who has an 11-5 decision over Sanderlin has been 3rd the past two SOCON championships. If he can do himself one spot better this time, he's an NCAA DI qualifier. 

Austin Murphy
174 lbs 

 A SOCON runner-up in 2021 & a SOCON champion in 2022, I believe Austin Murphy will be our SOCON champion this weekend.  A 19-6 record, he was 6th at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational earlier this season. 

184 lbs 

A very exciting time for the Campbell Camels as Caleb Hopkins has the opportunity to become the first four time SOCON champion in school history.  There's only one man alive who could possibly keep him from accomplishing that feat on Saturday & that man is Jha'Quan Anderson of Gardner Webb who has been 3rd-2nd-2nd thus far himself in the SOCON.  The two met earlier this year with Hopkins taking an ever so close 1-0 victory. 

Levi Hopkins

Right there along with brother Caleb, Levi Hopkins is hoping to win his second SOCON title and unlike Caleb, doesn't seem to have anyone who will challenge him for it. 

Taye Ghadiali

As to the upper weights, gonna be a pretty good day for the Camels of Campbell I see.  I can't see anyone keeping Taye Ghadiali from winning his third SOCON title. 

No comments:

Post a Comment