Half of the wrestling world travels to Chattanooga, Tennessee next week for what has quickly become the mid-season open tournament of note - the Southern Scuffle, hosted by the UT-Chattanooga Mocs and head coach Heath Eslinger. Penn State, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, and Missouri - along with 29 other teams - will put it all out on the Resilite. For the last three years, the champion of the Scuffle has also been crowned NCAA Champion in March (that'd be Penn State).
Last Year Final Team Results - Top 5
1. Penn State 178.5
2. Oklahoma State 158
3. Missouri 147.5
4. Minnesota 139.5
5. Cornell 136
Though pre-seeds have yet to be announced, we've borrowed the rankings from the fellas at Intermat, and listed our anticipated top 20 participants. The Scuffle seeds usually follow along the Intermat rankings. A "WC" in the table indicates "wild card"; a "UNA" indicates "unattached". Penn State can bring up to 15 paid/attached wrestlers to the meet. Our 10 starters and 5 WC's highlight those expected 15 wrestlers. We've also tacked on Garrett Hammond and Matt McCutcheon as unattached - pay their own way to Chattanooga, and can't have Cael or Casey in their corner. Unattached preserves their redshirt. Hooray, NCAA.
WHEN: January 1st and 2nd
VIDEO: paid only, via Flo
AUDIO: Ironhead via MERF or PSU All-Access (paid). Listen to 1 guy call action on 6 different mats at once, by himself. It's incredible. But that's part of what makes Byers the best in the business.
|1||#2 Nahshon Garrett||Cornell|
|2||#3 Nico Megaludis||Penn State|
|3||#6 Josh Martinez||Air Force|
|4||#9 Corey Keener||Central Michigan|
|5||#11 Nathan Kraisser||UNC|
|6||#12 Evan Silver||Stanford|
|7||#14 David Terao||American|
|8||#15 Anthony Zanetta||Pitt|
|9||#17 Eddie Klimara||Okie State|
|10||#19 Earl Hall||Iowa State|
Last Year: Nico won. Surprise, right? He beat Klimara, Terao, Garrett, and UVA's Matt Snyder in the final. But he didn't get bonus in any of the matches.
This Year: Nico's quarterfinal bout is probably against #12 Silver or #14 Terao - both of whom have the ability to make All-American this year. His likely semi-final opponent, if rankings hold, would be Air Force's Josh Martinez. But the one he wants most is a finals rematch with #2 Garrett, to whom Nico lost at the Binghamton Open in November.
Prediction: 1-Nico, 2-Garrett, 3-Keener (PA homer card), 4-Kraisser
|1||#3 Jon Morrison||Okie State|
|2||#5 Ryan Mango||Stanford|
|3||#10 David Thorn||Minnesota|
|4||#11 Joe Roth||Central Michigan|
|5||#12 Shelton Mack||Pitt|
|6||#14 Mark Grey||Cornell|
|7||#15 Nick Soto||Chattanooga|
|8||#18 Jimmy Gulibon||Penn State|
|9||#19 Mack McGuire||Kent State|
|10||#20 Colton Rasche||Navy|
|WC||Jordan Conaway||Penn State|
Last Year: all 4 semi-finalists became All-Americans. Both Conaway, who lost 5-6 to UVA's George DiCamillo; and Gulibon, who lost 5-9 to eventual champ Jon Morrison, lost in the quarterfinals. Gulibon wrestled back to place 4th, getting pinned in the 3rd place match by All-American Nathan McCormick, but majoring eventual AA DiCamillo in the consi semi-final. Conaway did not place, getting bounced from the wrestlebacks immediately, 3-10.
This Year: the top 3 are all returning All-Americans, and the next 5 or 6 have the ability to get there this season. This is a pretty deep field, even if it is short on the top end names. Both Jimmy and Jordan are going to have tough matches almost out of the gate. Expect them to catch guys like #19 McGuire and #20 Rasche in the second round, and top end dudes like #3 Morrison and #5 Mango in the quarters. In other words, making the semi-finals is again going to be a challenge - but is doable. There's not a lot of separation from #10 Thorn down to Jimmy and Jordan.
Prediction: 1-Morrison, 2-Mango, 3-Gulibon, 4-Thorn. BOOM! Jimmy makes his case for the starting spot, setting the consolation bracket on fire.
|1||#2 Zain Retherford||Penn State|
|2||#4 Chris Dardanes||Minnesota|
|3||#6 Mike Nevinger||Cornell|
|4||#8 Chris Mecate||Old Dominion|
|5||#10 Zach Horan||Central Michigan|
|6||#11 Anthony Collica||Okie State|
|7||#13 Luke Vaith||Hofstra|
|8||#19 Edgar Bright||Pitt|
Last Year: Cornell's Nevinger beat Citadel's Ugi in the final. Bryan Pearsall placed 8th, losing twice to Dean Pavlou, and once to Julian Fiekert. True freshman Zach Beitz caught everyone's attention when he took runner-up Ugi to the limit before losing 2-1, when Ugi escaped off a restart with 10 seconds to go after Beitz had to take injury time. Beitz was later pulled for the injury and didn't place.
This Year: ZPain likely gets the top seed on the strength of his two wins over top 10 competitors, ahead of Dardanes, Nevinger, and Mecate - all of whom made the semi-finals here last season. ZPain likely gets the Mecate-Horan winner in one semi-final, though he may need to get past Pitt's Edgar Bright again before that in the quarters.
Prediction: 1-ZPain, 2-Nevinger, 3-Dardanes, 4-Horan (PA homer card)
|1||#1 Nick Dardanes||Minnesota|
|2||#3 Drake Houdashelt||Missouri|
|3||#4 Josh Kindig||Okie State|
|5||#9 Chris Villalonga||Cornell|
|6||#10 Scott Sakaguchi||Oregon State|
|7||#11 Gus Sako||UVA|
|8||#16 Dylan Cottrell||App State|
|9||#17 Tywan Claxton||Ohio|
|WC||Zach Beitz||Penn State|
Last Year: Jordan Oliver killed everyone in the field, though we were disappointed when the Altons couldn't compete, and Dylan Ness default with an ankle injury. Luke Frey and Jim English both made the quarterfinals, but both lost there; Frey dropped a 9-4 decision to Ness; English was the only dude against whom Oliver didn't get bonus (12-6). Jim wrestled back to finish 3rd, taking a forfeit over Ness, and beating eventual AA Drake Houdashelt (and now national #3) in the consolation final, 5-2.
This Year: Jim may still be injured, as is Frey. Andrew Alton could make a return (though it looks unlikely since both he and Dylan are registered for the Wilkes Open), and we should probably count in Zach entering the field. But wow - lots of questions here for Penn State. It's difficult to even project matchups. If Andrew is healthy, he can beat everyone here. Would Cael let him wrestle the whole way though? I think it's more likely that Cael only lets him get his feet wet (or, as noted, Andrew only wrestles the Wilkes Open). Zach, on the other hand, has been wrestling very well. But the top 5 (or 6 if we count Andrew) here are all likely to make the podium in March. So he's going to have some difficult matches.
Prediction: 1-Kindig, 2-Sakaguchi, 3-Houdashelt, 4-Dardanes
|1||#2 Alex Dieringer||Okie State|
|2||#3 Dylan Ness||Minnesota|
|4||#6 Kyle Bradley||Missouri|
|5||#8 Ian Miller||Kent State|
|6||#11 Brian Realbuto||Cornell|
|7||#12 Blaise Butler||UVA|
|8||#13 RJ Pena||Oregon State|
|9||#17 Josh Kreimer||Air Force|
|10||#18 Tristan Warner||Old Dominion|
|11||#19 Spartak Chino||Ohio|
|WC||Jim Vollrath||Penn State|
Last Year: No Dylan? No problem. Jim Vollrath stepped in, upset Dieringer in the semi-finals, and dropped a close 3-1 SV decision in the final to Jedd Moore.
This Year: I'm curious to see where the Scuffle committee seeds Rath of Voll. And of course, we have the same uncertainty surrounding Dylan as we do Andrew. But this is a much deeper field than last season. Chino, Kreimer, and Pena are all R-12 type of guys. Realbuto from Cornell is the young hotshot. And I'm dying to see Ness at 157. Oh - by the way - that Dieringer kid won a silver medal in freestyle this summer.
Prediction: 1-Dieringer, 2-Ness, 3-Bradley, 4-Realbuto
|1||#1 David Taylor||Penn State|
|2||#2 Tyler Caldwell||Okie State|
|3||#3 Nick Sulzer||UVA|
|4||#6 Mike Moreno||Iowa State|
|5||#7 Corey Mock||Chattanooga|
|6||#9 Zach Toal||Missouri|
|7||#14 Jim Wilson||Stanford|
|8||#17 Dylan Palacio||Cornell|
|9||#18 Joe Booth||Hofstra|
|10||#19 Danny Zilverberg||Minnesota|
|11||#20 Casey Kent||Penn|
|UNA||Garrett Hammond||Penn State|
Last Year: It was Taylor-Dake 2, and wow did Taylor get hosed by some bad officiating. Both guys destroyed everyone else in the field. Taylor majored consensus #3 Caldwell 10-0 in one semi-final. Dake pinned Sulzer in the other.
This Year: How many points can Taylor hang on Caldwell this year?
Prediction: 1-Taylor, 2-Caldwell, 3-Mock (he's been wrestling well), 4-Sulzer
|1||#2 Chris Perry||Okie State|
|2||#3 Matt Brown||Penn State|
|3||#5 Logan Storley||Minnesota|
|4||#7 Cody Walters||Ohio|
|5||#8 Tyler Wilps||Pitt|
|6||#10 Stephen Doty||UVA|
|7||#11 Mike Ottinger||Central Michigan|
|8||#12 Matt Miller||Navy|
|9||#13 Turtogtokh Luvsandorj||Citadel|
|10||#14 Tanner Weatherman||Iowa State|
|11||#20 Caleb Marsh||Kent State|
Last Year: this is where the Matt Brown questions started. He was riding Storley like a pony one minute, and the next he was pinned. It was also a stupid-deep field, with All-Americans Porter and Walters taking 5th and 7th. Perry beat Storley in the final, 7-6.
This Year: knock on wood, but Hulk Hands is wrestling as well as he ever has. He'll get a tough quarterfinal bout against someone who is a threat for the podium, like #12 Miller or #13 Turtogtokh. And then he'll probably have a 4th or 5th match against Storley in the semis, before getting a rematch with Perry in the final.
Prediction: 1-Brown, 2-Perry, 3-Storley, 4-Wilps
|1||#1 Ed Ruth||Penn State|
|2||#4 Kevin Steinhaus||Minnesota|
|3||#6 Max Thomusseit||Pitt|
|4||#7 Gabe Dean||Cornell|
|5||#9 Boaz Beard||Iowa State|
|6||#13 John Eblen||Missouri|
|7||#14 Lorenzo Thomas||Penn|
|8||#17 Sam Wheeler||Kent State|
|9||#19 Jon Fausey||UVA|
|WC||Wes Phipps||Penn State|
|UNA||Matt McCutcheon||Penn State|
Last Year: Ed Ruth, in his first test at 184, literally toyed with defending national champion Steve Bosak in the final.
This Year: Yeah...no one can touch So Fresh, So Clean. So instead, let's turn our attention to how young bucks Phipps and McCutcheon might make out. The potential AA's in this field probably only stretch 4 or 5 deep, with #7 Gabe Dean turning some heads early this year. Can one or both of Phipps and McCutcheon place?
Prediction: 1-So Fresh, 2-Steinhaus, 3-Dean, 4-Thomusseit (if healthy and wrestling)
|1||#1 Scott Schiller||Minnesota|
|2||#2 Kyven Gadson||Iowa State|
|3||#3 Morgan McIntosh||Penn State|
|4||#6 Taylor Meeks||Iowa State|
|5||#9 Daniel Mitchell||American|
|6||#13 Phil Wellington||Ohio|
|7||#14 J'den Cox||Missouri|
|8||#15 Blake Rosholt||Okie State|
|9||#17 Nick Bonaccorsi||Pitt|
|10||#20 Conner Hartmann||Duke|
Last Year: How would Quentin Wright handle the bump up in weight? Answer: he kilt everyone, pinning Jake Meredith in the final, though it was a weaker field.
This Year: Whoooo boy. We're loaded. #15 Rosholt is a former All-American, and #17 Bonaccorsi took Morg to overtime 3 weeks ago. So....dang. The top 4 all get AA-level matches in the quarterfinals. Nuts.
Prediction: 1-Morg, 2-Schiller, 3-Gadsen, 4-Wellington. BOOM. National pundits crown Penn State January 2nd.
|1||#1 Tony Nelson||Minnesota|
|2||#5 Nick Gwiazdowski||NC State|
|3||#11 Jeremy Johnson||Ohio|
|4||#12 Jimmy Lawson||Penn State|
|5||#15 Austin Marsden||Okie State|
|6||#16 Kyle Colling||Arizona State|
|7||#17 Amarveer Dhesi||Oregon State|
|WC||Jon Gingrich||Penn State|
Last Year: Dom Bradley beat Tony Nelson 2-1 TB in the final. Yawn. Jon Gingrich and Jimmy Lawson both lost in the quarters (to Bradley and Gelogaev, respectively). And then they both lost to Jeremy Johnson in the wrestle-backs. Lawson beat future AA Levi Cooper to place 7th. It was a loaded field, featuring 6 of the 8 All-Americans from 2013, plus redshirting Nick Gwiazdowski, who beat Gelogaev to take 3rd.
This Year: Conversely, in 2014 this looks to be the weakest weight of the ten. Jimmy will likely be the 4th seed, and will get a test from #15 Marsden in the quarters, before facing 2x Champ Nelson in the semis. Let's see how he does.
Prediction: 1-Nelson, 2-Gwiazdowski, 3-Johnson, 4-Lawson
Penn State crowns champions at 125, 141, 165, 174, 184, and 197. Jimmy Gulibon has his best tournament yet, placing 3rd. And national pundits hand Penn State its 4th consecutive national championship, 3 months early, because they are gobsmacked by the collection of talent and title threats up and down the lineup.
What a way to start a new year.