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Sentes Is Geared Up For Underrated Rivalry Dual

Campbell Head Coach Scotti Sentes Doesn’t Mince Words When Describing What His SoCon Rivalry With App State Means To The Fighting Camels.

With everything that goes into being a father and head coach for a D-1 NCAA wrestling team, there’s something that’s still special about the Campbell vs Appalachian State rivalry dual on the calendar for Campbell Head Coach Scotti Sentes.

While most wrestling fans like to point to Iowa vs Oklahoma State, Michigan vs Ohio State and Iowa vs Iowa State when thinking of the biggest rivalries in the game, nobody in the sport turns their noses up at Campbell vs App State, especially in recent years.

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2-2 in the last four meetings, Sentes has always loved the unpredictability of the matchups. A nationally ranked App State team could march into Buies Creek with a head full of steam and find themselves halted. Campbell could ride into Boone on a six-dual win streak and fall to App State.

To go into any dual with a prediction would be nothing better than a shot in the dark, and it’s that type of unpredictability that keeps Sentes and the Fighting Camels a little bit sharper around this time of year.

“Most duals you can sit down and there’s a pretty good prediction level,” Sentes explained. “This one, I wouldn’t listen to anyone’s prediction. It’s going to be a scrap. They’re a good enough team to come in, and if we don’t show up, it’s going to be a long day and vice versa. We could match up and we could take every match. That’s what makes it interesting; nobody knows what’s going to happen. All I know is that my guys are going to show up and they’re going to fight. I’m guessing they’re going to do the same, so we’re going to have a good ol’ fashioned showdown.”

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While the end result is completely up in the air, Sentes says one thing is guaranteed and it’s the fireworks of one of the most slept-on rivalries in NCAA.

“It gets a little edgy,” Sentes laughed. “Their team has a lot of fight in them, and we’ve got a lot of fight in us. It’s going to turn into a scrap. It’s going to be a scrap. It matters to them.”

One of Sentes’ most fond memories as a coach followed a Korbin Meink victory behind enemy lines and being met with a reception of middle fingers from the Mountaineers faithful. There’s middle fingers, things get chippy, but no moment signifies the heat of the rivalry quite like the pre-dual standoff a couple years ago.

“Out of nowhere, we’re about to shake hands in the middle of the mat, our guys were running past the middle and trying not to let their wrestlers onto the mat,” Sentes recalled. “Eventually, it seemed like they would go a little bit further from the center to their side of the mat and eventually they were all the way over there. When App State’s bigger names started getting up, some of their upperclassmen, some of their better guys, they would actually run around our guys back to the middle of the mat to shake hands in the middle.  Like, ‘Hey, this is our home you’re not going to take the mats from us.’ Ever since then, it’s always had this feeling like App State were the good guys and Campbell were the bad guys. There’s just a little more friction each and every year.”

With both teams knocking on the door of the national rankings, the dual matters as much this year as it ever has, and with one of the most even lineups Sentes can recall, literally every takedown could carry game-changing weight.

“Basically, from 149 to 165 is where their best wrestling is happening,” Sentes said. “That’s all their ranked guys, it’s 149 to 165, but we have a great 165-pounder, too, literally ranked one below, so it should be a tight match. They’re favored in those three matches. Then we’re favored from 174 to heavyweight. Then 125 to 141, those are kind of the swing matches on paper. We’ve beaten their 133-pounder twice, he’s beaten us once, 125s haven’t met yet and 141s, I don’t know if they’ve met yet. Those, I would say, are going to be the most important matches if we start at 125.”

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As much as the rivalry reflects the battle for SoCon supremacy, Sentes feels that the undertone to the battle is the desire to lay claim to the entire Tar Heel State. With elite programs in NC State and UNC, Sentes feels the SoCon rivals are essentially telling each other, “This town ain’t big enough for the three of us.”

“Their coach is from North Carolina, a lot of their wrestlers were from North Carolina, and they’ve got a lot of pride trying to be the best in the conference and in the state,” Sentes said. “We don’t have any North Carolina kids, so we just don’t like the guys, you know? I don’t know how to explain it, but it gets heated, and we know there’s a lot on the line and both teams are going to fight.”

With guys on the team like Chris Earnest, already known for taunting opposing wrestlers and coaches following wins, Taye Ghadiali, who’s already made his mark on the App State team and fanbase with a mocking smile and wave following his last victory in Boone, and an entire cast of characters waiting to make their name in the rivalry, it only makes sense it would all go down on UFC FIGHT PASS.

“FIGHT PASS  is in the fight business and that’s what you’re going to see here,” Sentes said. “You’re going to see two guys battling it out and that’s what people love to watch. People want to watch guys put it on the line, watch guys get after it. They want to see dudes trying to rip each other’s head off and we’re going to see that, without a doubt.”

Catch Campbell University when they take on bitter rivals Appalachian State this Friday, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!