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Division I wrestling comes to Gwinnett

Parkview’s Kamaal Shakur has made several out of town trips to watch the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga wrestling team.

The senior, who signed with UTC in November, will only have to make a 20-mile journey across Gwinnett County on Sunday.

UTC will wrestle Purdue at Mountain View High School at 2 p.m. It’s a rare occasion to watch two Division I teams compete in Georgia.

“It’s amazing. I’m so happy,” said Shakur, the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 145 pounds in Class AAAAAA. “It will be my future teammates, so it will be fun. I’ll be cheering them on.”

The dual is being put on by the Georgia Wrestling Coalition to promote Division I wrestling in Georgia. There are several college wrestling programs in Georgia, but not at the Division I level.

“(UTC and Purdue) have really been flexible and opened their schedule just to help Georgia wrestling,” said Randy Bortles of the Georgia Wrestling Coalition. “They have gone above and beyond to try and bring Division I wrestling to Georgia.”

Just a few years ago college wrestling was nearly nonexistent in Georgia. Over the last five years college programs have sprouted up across the state. There’s now five college wrestling teams in Georgia from Division II Shorter in Rome to NAIA Brewton-Parker. There’s also nine club level teams across the state such as Georgia and Mercer.

“I hope all of our supporters, all of our wrestling fans and friends in Georgia will come out and support that dual meet. We look to have a great crowd for that match,” UTC head coach Heath Eslinger told GoMocs.com.

UTC (4-3) is the defending Southern Conference champion and has won eight of the past nine SoCon titles.

Nick Soto (133 pounds) is a defending SoCon champion, while Kevin Malone (285) was a pre-season all-conference selection. Corey Mock, a transfer from North Carolina, was named SoCon Wrestler of the Month last week.

Alex Hudson, a three-time state champion at Sprayberry, is the only wrestler on either team with Georgia ties. Hudson won a SoCon title last season as a junior.

Purdue (2-1) is ranked No. 21 in the nation by USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I coaches poll. The Boilermakers are led by Braden Atwood, who is ranked No. 15 in the country in the 197-pound weight class.

The dual is expected to bring 300-500 people. There will be an autograph session with the teams after the dual.

“We want it to be a great atmosphere,” Bortles said.

WRESTLING

What: Purdue vs. Tennessee-Chattanooga

When: Sunday, 2 p.m.

Where: Mountain View High School (2351 Sunny Hill Road, Lawrenceville 30043)

Tickets: $5

More info:

• UTC meet and greet social

Saturday from 7-9 p.m.

E-mail Andrew-Horton@utc.edu to RSVP