With five preseason all-conference selections among the 10 weight classes, App State Wrestling has been voted the preseason favorite to win the Southern Conference.
The preseason poll and all-conference selections came from voting by the league’s nine head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own teams or student-athletes. The SoCon has expanded to nine teams this season with the addition of Bellarmine.
Under head coach JohnMark Bentley’s direction, in the past six seasons, App State’s 37-4 conference record ranks No. 5 nationally in all of Division I wrestling behind just Missouri, Oklahoma State, Cornell and Penn State. The Mountaineers received six of nine first-place votes in the SoCon preseason poll and totaled 61 voting points – four more than second-place Campbell (two first-place votes) and eight more than third-place Chattanooga (one first-place vote).
The App State wrestlers to receive preseason All-SoCon recognition were Sean Carter (133 pounds), Anthony Brito (141), Jonathan Millner (149), Thomas Flitz (174) and Paul Carson (197). Campbell and Chattanooga each had two preseason All-SoCon choices.
Flitz, a redshirt senior, went 30-11 overall and 7-0 in SoCon duals last season while earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships that were canceled by the coronavirus pandemic. Millner, a redshirt junior, also earned All-SoCon honors in 2019-20 with a 7-0 record in conference duals. He went 31-4 overall and was the SoCon champion at 149 pounds.
Carter has moved up to 133 pounds from 125, where he went 28-14 overall as a true freshman en route to being named the SoCon’s Freshman of the Year. He went 6-1 in SoCon duals. Carson shared time as the starter at 197 as a redshirt sophomore in 2019-20 and went 19-13 overall, including 3-1 in SoCon duals.
Brito, a potential first-year starter as a redshirt junior at 141, posted a 35-18 record in his first two seasons after making the Southern Conference All-Freshman Team in 2018-19 and going 21-9 last season.
2020-21 SoCon Wrestling Preseason Coaches’ Poll
School (First-place votes), Points
1. App State (6), 61
2. Campbell (2), 57
3. Chattanooga (1), 53
4. Gardner-Webb, 40
5. Davidson, 32
6. The Citadel, 29
7. VMI, 21
8. Bellarmine, 17
9. Presbyterian, 12
2020-21 SoCon Wrestling Preseason All-Conference Team
125: Fabian Gutierrez, Chattanooga
133: Sean Carter, App State
141: Anthony Brito, App State
149: Jonathan Millner, App State
157: Ben Barton, Campbell & Zachary Phillips, Presbyterian
165: Austin Krassier, Campbell
174: Thomas Flitz, App State
184: Matthew Waddell, Chattanooga
197: Paul Carson, App State
HWT: Michael McAleavey, The Citadel