UTC’s Castillo Tabbed SoCon Freshman of the Year, Five Mocs Earn All-SoCon Accolades

Chattanooga Mocs’ wrestler Noah Castillo has been named the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, the league office announced Thursday afternoon.

Castillo is the 11th Moc to be named the SoCon Freshman of the Year and is the third in the last four seasons after Weston Wichman earned the honor last year and Tanner Smith in 2019.

The Orlando, Fla. native went 16-7 at 149 pounds this season and 5-2 in league competition. He concluded the regular season with four straight wins including two major decisions and a tech fall. His only two losses in SoCon duals were to No. 4 Jonathan Millner and No.6 Josh Heil, by a combined total of three points.

Fabian Gutierrez, Brayden Palmer and Drew Nicholson were all named to the 2021-22 All-SoCon Team. Gutierrez earned a spot on the team for the second time in his career after being selected in 2019-20. It’s Nicholson and Palmer’s first postseason All-SoCon accolade.

Gutierrez was perfect in SoCon competition this season, going 8-0 at 125 pounds with four pins. Overall, the senior was 17-6 in his sixth year at Chattanooga. Three of his six losses came at the 2022 Southern Scuffle to ranked opponents where he finished sixth. Gutierrez picked up five ranked wins this season including two against App State’s No. 24/32 Caleb Smith, Campbell’s No. 23, Korbin Meink, Illinois’ No. 26 Justin Cardani and Cleveland State’s No. 32 Logan Heil.

Palmer posted a 22-6 overall record at 133 pounds with a 7-1 mark in league action. He concluded the season winning nine of his last 10 matches. In conference competition, he rounded out the year winning seven straight. Palmer recorded three ranked wins this season… two over App State’s No. 21/28 Codi Russel and one over Virginia’s No. 14 Brian Courtney. Palmer is the first Moc to be named to the All-SoCon team at 133 pounds since Chris Debien in 2017.

Nicholson joined Gutierrez in having an unblemished record in SoCon competition, going 7-0 at 165 pounds. He put together a 15-6 mark overall and won 11 of his last 12 matches. The Memphis, Tenn. native outscored his league opponents 48-10 in his seven SoCon contests. Nicholson is the first UTC wrestler to be named to the All-SoCon team at 165 pounds since Justin Lampe in 2017.

The trio of All-SoCon members are the 98th, 99th and 100th all-time in program history. Chattanooga is the first program in the Southern Conference to place 100 wrestlers on All-SoCon teams since 1993. Prior to 1993, all individual SoCon meet champions earned league honors.

Lincoln Heck joined Castillo on the All-SoCon Freshman Team. This marks the eighth time since 2009 (when the 10-member all-freshman team was established) that the Mocs have had two or more on the squad. Heck went 9-4 this season and put together a 3-1 record in league competition at 157 pounds after earning the starting spot in the middle of the season. All three of his SoCon wins were bonus-point victories with one major, one tech fall and one pin.

App State’s Jonathan Millner (149 pounds) was named the SoCon Wrestler of the Year.

Gutierrez, Palmer and Nicholson are all the No. 1 seed in their respective weight classes entering the SoCon Championships on Saturday, March 5. Castillo is the No. 3 seed at 149 and Heck garnered the No. 4 seed at 157 pounds.