App State’s Will Formato has been named the SoCon Wrestler of the Year, and he is one of three Mountaineers representing his weight class on the 10-man All-SoCon team.
Formato (165 pounds) is joined on the All-SoCon team by Codi Russell (125) and Jonathan Millner (149). All three wrestlers went 8-0 in SoCon duals this season and are top seeds for Sunday’s SoCon Championships at the Holmes Center in Boone.
Additionally, App State’s Tristan Pugh (149) made the All-Freshman team. The league’s awards were voted on by the nine head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes.
Formato is tied for the national lead in victories, as he’ll take a 13-1 record into this weekend’s conference championships. He outscored his opponents 120-9 and didn’t allow a takedown in his 13 victories during the regular season.
Formato is part of a competitive weight class, with four SoCon wrestlers in the top 33 of the Division I Coaches Rankings, including a No. 16 ranking for App State’s redshirt sophomore from Acworth, Ga. He faced eight wrestlers with a top-50 ranking during his 12 matches in January and was named the SoCon’s Wrestler of the Month heading into February.
Formato has been ranked as high as No. 10 nationally this season.
It’s the ninth SoCon Wrestler of the Year honor for an App State wrestler since 1993 and the fifth in head coach JohnMark Bentley’s 12 seasons in charge of the Mountaineers. Formato adds his name to a list with Donnell Rawls (1993), Travis Drake (2001-02), Mark Fee (2003), Scott Ervin (2008), Austin Trotman (2010), Kyle Blevins (2012) and Denzel Dejournette (2016-17).
Formato accounted for 36 team points while going unbeaten in App State’s nine total duals this season, including the 2021 opener against then-No. 7 Thomas Bullard of highly ranked NC State.
A redshirt senior from Atlanta, Russell went 11-1 in the regular season with eight bonus-point victories after moving down from 133 pounds to 125 before the 2021 season. Like Millner, he accounted for 37 team points in App State’s eight SoCon duals (or 4.6 per match).
A redshirt junior from Greensboro, N.C., Millner didn’t compete in a season-opening event at Varsity Gym but still finished the regular season at 11-1 with a team-best 40 points scored in App State’s nine total duals.
Pugh, a true freshman from Friedens, Pa., is 6-2 this season with five bonus-point victories. He earned bonus points in all three “extra” matches he appeared in following a SoCon dual.
2020-21 Wrestler of the Year
Will Formato, 165, R-So., App State
2020-21 Freshman of the Year
Weston Wichman, 157, Chattanooga
2020-21 All-Southern Conference Team
125: Codi Russell, R-Sr., App State
133: Jake Rotunda, Jr., The Citadel
141: Franco Valdes, Jr., Chattanooga
149: Jonathan Millner, R-Jr., App State
157: Benjamin Barton, R-Sr., Campbell
165: Will Formato, R-So., App State
174: Austin Murphy, Jr., Campbell
184: Caleb Hopkins, R-Jr., Campbell
197: Chris Kober, Sr., Campbell
285: Michael McAleavey, Sr., The Citadel
2020-21 All-Freshman Team
Tristian Pugh, 149, App State
Bilal Bailey, 165, Campbell
Gabriel Hixenbaugh, 133, Campbell
Levi Hopkins, 197, Campbell
Justin Rivera, 141, Campbell
Bryce Sanderlin, 157, Davidson
Jha’Quan Anderson, 184, Gardner-Webb
Logan Andrew, 197, Chattanooga
Weston Wichman, 157, Chattanooga
Tyler Mousaw, 197, VMI
Blake Showers, 157, VMI