SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference office announced Thursday that Gardner-Webb's Chris Vassar was its SoCon Wrestler of the Month for December.
Vassar (New Cumberland, Pa. / Cedar Cliff HS) posted a perfect 8-0 mark for the month, wrestling well at 149 pounds for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
The redshirt junior started the month with a 2-0 decision over Virginia's Sam Krivus on December 2 in a tough team loss to the ACC's Cavaliers. Vassar heated up in the SoCon opener vs. VMI (December 9), pinning Stevan Smith in just 2:05 – giving Gardner-Webb the lead for good in a 29-13 victory.
Vassar followed with another impressive effort at Kent State, pinning Tim Rooney in just 1:55 to begin a string of five-straight individual wins that turned the tide in a 22-17 team win over the Golden Flashes.
His success in the Buckeye State continued one day later, as he rolled through the bracket to win the 2016 Cleveland State Open. Vassar opened the event with a pin in just 1:19, then picked up a 4-2 decision over Michigan's Malik Amine. He posted a major decision over Ohio's Nick Vestal, topped Virginia's Krivus in a tight 4-3 match and finished off his title with an 8-0 major decision over teammate Cole Graves.
Vassar, who became Gardner-Webb's first NCAA Division I at-large qualifier last spring, sits at 14-5 overall (4-1 dual) with a team-high five pins so far this season.
He leads Gardner-Webb in pins, ranks second to 2016 NCAA qualifier Boyce Cornwell (15-4) in victories – and ranks second on the squad with a pair of tech. falls. Vassar has 37 career wins in just over two full seasons of competition with the Runnin' Bulldogs. He also went 20-2 as a redshirt in 2013-2014.
Gardner-Webb (4-2, 1-0 SoCon) will get back on the mats against outside competition in late January, traveling to face a much improved Campbell squad on January 20 in Buies Creek, N.C. That match is set for 6:00 pm.
The Runnin' Bulldogs will also wrestle at The Citadel (Jan. 21), at Appalachian State (Jan. 25) and at SIU Edwardsville (Jan. 28) before returning home to host Duke on Wednesday, February 1 in Paul Porter Arena (7:00 pm).