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Southern Scuffle 2013: Preview

The sleepy little southern event survived the move to Chattanooga, and is flourishing. This is must-see wrestling action.

Ed Ruth
Ed Ruth

What's with Southerners and the need to incorporate alliteration with sports events? Red River Rivalry. Battle on the Brazos. (B)iron Bowl. And, the southerner step-son of them all....the Southern Scuffle!

Two years ago we sat confused as UNC-Greensboro, the former host of the Scuffle, announced they were killing their wrestling program because their Athletic Director was stupid. What would happen to this annual event? Chattanooga stepped up and took on the job, running a great event last year. They have it again to kick off the New Year, and it looks like it will be better than ever. I'd nudge the Scuffle past Midlands given the teams scheduled for this season. Have a gander, y'all:

#1 Penn State
#2 Minnesota
#3 Oklahoma State
#7 Missouri
#8 Cornell
#9 Virginia Tech
#22 Virginia
#25 North Carolina
#28 Citadel
#29 Air Force
#32 Arizona State
#43 Chattanooga
#46 Army
#47 Navy

That's right, sissies. The national top-3 squads, and six of the top-10, will be on display for the 2-day event. Missouri has been on an early season tear, mauling opponents in duals. And event newcomer Okie State should bring a little extra spice to the eggnog. This is going to be awesome.

(and a big thanks to the fellas at InterMat for the rankings)

125 LBS

TOP 20
#2 Nico Megaludis - PSU
#4 Alan Waters - Mizzou
#6 Jarrod Garnett - VaTech
#7 David Thorn - Goldy
#8 Matt Snyder - UVA
#9 Nick Soto - Chattanooga
#10 Nahshon Garrett - Cornell
#12 Nathan Kraisser - UNC

#4 Waters was seeded 3rd in last year's NCAA after an awesome regular season - and then he had a nightmare tournament, failing to make All-American. #6 Garnett returns from redshirting last season. He bounced PSU's Brad Pataky to the consi's two seasons ago. #7 Thorn has cut from '33 to fill the Gophers' spot at this weight, and had an early season fall over Steve Bonanno before dropping a 3-4 decision to Trent Sprenkle. Little Thorn is a fighter, though.

Darkhorse: #10 Nahshon Garrett. The freshman has been hanging big scores on everyone, save a recent 4-6 loss to #4 Waters.

Favorite: our man #2 Nico. He doesn't get tired, and he does pretty well at these tournament things.

133 LBS

TOP 20
#5 Chris Dardanes - Goldy
#6 Nathan McCormick - Mizzou
#7 Jon Morrison - Okie St
#8 Nick Arujau - Cornell
#17 George DiCamillo - UVA
#18 Joey Ward - UNC
UR - Jordan Conaway - PSU
?? - Frankie Martellotti - PSU
?? - Jimmy Gulibon - PSU

This weight gives us four of the national top 10, but none of the top 4. It's probably the second weakest weight class in this tournament. The big factor for us PSU fans will be watching which wrestlers Cael brings to the show. Conaway looks to have taken this spot in the lineup, so he'll be there to cheer on. But with 15 official spots to fill out, does Cael use two of those to bring both Martellotti and Gulibon?

Darkhorse: I suppose you have to have a favorite in order to have a darkhorse, and I'm not sure that very much separates the top 3 guys in this bracket. #7 Morrison's bumped up from 125 the last two seasons, and he's dropped 1-point matches to both Dardanes and McCormick early in the season. Let's make him the darkhorse.

Favorite: uhhh, let's call it returning All-American Dardanes.

141 LBS

TOP 20
#6 Evan Henderson - UNC
#7 K.Undrakhbayar - Citadel
#8 Zach Neibert - VaTech
#10 Mike Nevinger - Cornell
#14 Nick Dardanes - Goldy
#19 Bryan Pearsall - PSU

And this is the weakest weight class, if I'm handicapping it. #6 Henderson finished 2nd at the recent Nittany Lion Open, getting majored by Virginia Tech's redshirting Devin Carter. Hopefully Carter makes this trip to Chattanooga as well. Henderson beat #7 Undrakhbayar in the semis at the NLO. #10 Nevinger can wrestle really well - and he can give you a head scratcher the next week. Our man at '41, Pearsall, would do well to make the semi-finals in this tournament, and has been wrestling better since a disappointing NLO.

Darkhorse: Nevinger.

Favorite: I'm betting VaTech's Carter makes the trip, and bolsters the top end of this weight class.

149 LBS

TOP 20
#1 Jordan Oliver - Okie State
#2 Dylan Ness - Goldy
#5 Andrew Alton - PSU
#7 Cole VonOhlen - Air Force
#8 Nick Grascetta - VaTech
#17 Drake Houdashelt - Mizzou
#18 Daniel Young - Army
#19 Derek Valenti - UVA
#20 Chris Villalonga - Cornell

Well, lookie here. This one looks fun, doesn't it? Chances are pretty good that our guy Andrew Alton will have to beat an All-American to make the finals. And the semi-finals will look a lot like the NCAA blood round. Should be a nice early season test. One other thing to watch here - does Cael bring James English? English just got a sixth year of eligibility from the magnanimous people at the NCAA, seeing as how he lost two full seasons to injury already.

Darkhorse: I'll be gobsmacked if anyone outside the first three takes home the title. I'll be mildly surprised if Andrew takes home the gold, so let's make him the darkhorse.

Favorite: #1 Oliver. Yes, Oliver is bumping up two weight classes, from 133. And yes, he lost the title match last year at that weight. But he's still a certified stud.

157 LBS

TOP 20
#5 Dylan Alton - PSU
#6 Jesse Dong - VaTech
#9 Alex Dieringer - Okie State
#15 Jedd Moore - UVA
#16 Josh Kreimer - Air Force
#17 Bobby Barnhisel - Navy

Dylan Alton has started a little slower than perfect, dropping close decisions to in-state rivals #4 Joey Napoli and #3 James Fleming. At the Scuffle his top competition will come in the form of #6 Dong and a true freshman phenom, #9 Dieringer. Jesse Dong has been around a while. Or maybe it just seems that way because, let's face it, that's not a name you're going to forget. There are literally 6,000 childish jokes I could make with that last name, and it's taking everything I've got to not make them. Yes - I'm still 12 years old.

Darkhorse: Dieringer. He's beaten all comers, including #12 Matt Lester of Oklahoma. But he's only wrestled 9 matches as of this post.

Favorite: Alton

165 LBS

TOP 20
#1 Kyle Dake - Cornell
#2 David Taylor - PSU
#3 Tyler Caldwell - Okie State
#4 Peter Yates - VaTech
#7 Nick Sulzer - UVA
#9 Cody Yohn - Goldy
#13 Zack Toal - Mizzou
#20 Josh Condon - Chattanooga

///giggles like a school-girl.

We might get to see Taylor vs. Caldwell, and Taylor vs. Dake Part 2 (or 3, if you're counting the Oly Trials). Where's Don King to come up with a catch phrase like 'Rumble in the Jungle' or 'Thrilla in Manilla'? Chattanooga's got to go with something cool, right? Help me out here.

Darkhorse: N/A. So let's call the darkhorse a surprise semi-finalist, shall we? Give me #7 Nick Sulzer as a surprise semi-finalist, getting past either #4 Yates or #3 Caldwell.

Favorite: Ali vs. Frazier 1 happened pre-season. Let's see Ali vs. Frazier 2 in the Scuffle Final.

174 LBS

TOP 20
#1 Chris Perry - Okie State
#3 Matt Brown - PSU
#4 Logan Storley - Goldy
#13 Cole Gracey - Army
#14 Blake Stouffer - Arizona St
#15 Matt Miller - Navy
#16 Jon Fausey - UVA

Well, this could be it. The moment we've been waiting for - what's #3 Matt Brown look like against the best this weight class has to offer? We've seen him maul on 197-lbers. We've seen him destroy weaker competition at 174lbs. All Penn State fans think he's a definite title threat this season. With a little good fortune, we might get to see him against both #4 Storley and #1 Perry.

Darkhorse: Don't sleep on #16 Fausey - and I'm not just writing that because he's a PA guy.

Favorite: I'm a PSU homer, so give me Matt Brown. Plus I like the way he wrestles better than Perry, who's style is not my favorite to watch.

184 LBS

TOP 20
#1 Ed Ruth - PSU
#2 Steve Bosak - Cornell
#4 Kevin Steinhouse - Goldy
#8 Mike Larson - Mizzou
#13 Chris Chionuma - Okie State
#19 Alex Utley - UNC
#20 Kevin Radford - Arizona St

Question: do you think #2 Steve Bosak can ride and turn #1 Ed Ruth? Me neither. And that pretty much settles this weight class, as far as I'm concerned.

Darkhorse: #2 Bosak. Yes, the #2 guy in the nation still qualifies as a darkhorse in this weight class.

Favorite: My favorite is watching Ruth change levels while the other guy moves like he was hit on the head with a hammer, by comparison.

197 LBS

TOP 20
#3 Quentin Wright - PSU
#7 Blake Rosholt - Okie State
#9 Jake Meredith - Arizona St
#12 Brent Haynes - Mizzou
#13 Scott Schiller - Goldy

What this class lacks in depth, it more than makes up for with firepower. #12 Brent Haynes can - and, for the most part, has - beat(en) just about anyone he faces. He's fallen short at the NCAA's the last two years, but the guy can score points in bunches when he's rolling. And #13 Schiller was a freestyle stud last year while he redshirted. So if Quentin doesn't bring at least his B+ / A- game to the semi-finals, he might not make the final.

Darkhorse: #12 Haynes. When you can score a ton, you've always got a shot.

Favorite: Q - this is a tournament, after all. Only a moron bets against Q in a tournament.

285 LBS

TOP 20
#1 Tony Nelson - Goldy
#2 Dom Bradley - Mizzou
#3 Alan Gelogaev - Okie State
#14 Levi Cooper - Arizona State
#15 Jimmy Lawson - PSU
#16 Odie Delaney - Citadel
#17 Jeremy Johnson - Ohio
UR Jon Gingrich - PSU

It's pretty much a sure bet that Cael brings both Jimmy and Jon to the Scuffle. And if either one - or both - make the semi-finals, then this weight looks a lot more certain for PSU than it did back in September. Both could make the semis, which would make Cael's decision that much harder. It's shaping up as though the one who performs better (and not necessarily from a place standpoint) will get the nod for the rest of the season.

Heavyweights are shaved bears, and watching them wrestle isn't all that entertaining because they're not allowed to chew on their opponent's head. So that kinda ruins it. But what is exciting - besides our two PSU guys - is this #3 Gelogaev. The last two Decembers I've heard how awesome this dude is. And then by March he can't compete because of an injury - so that's been a real bummer. With Okie State coming to the Scuffle, I get to see this guy in a tournament.

Darkhorse: gimme Jimmy.

Favorite: Tony Nelson seemed to get better every match from January through March last year. One tough dude.

Other Thoughts:

>So who, besides the 10 starters, does Cael bring to Chattanooga? The Lawson/Gingrich combo counts for one spot. English, Vollrath, McIntosh, Fischer, Gulibon and Martellotti all look like good choices, but there are only four spots left. My guess is that one of the '33-lbers stays home. I'm not sure if you can have more than two at a single weight anyhow. And if forced - give me Gulibon. I'd love to see what he could do in this action.

>As SWHA has pointed out in prior threads, how does Conaway hold up in the two-day tournament? He has an unlimited gas tank according to Casey, but he was also a 112-lber just two seasons ago. I think Jordan would concede that he's not a finished product at 133 just yet.

>And while we're at it - this is the first big tournament test for Ruth and Q after bumping up a weight. Anyone else curious to see how it all works out?

>Taylor vs. Dake will steal all the headlines, of course. But there are a ton of awesome (potential) match-ups. Andrew Alton vs. Dylan Ness? What's the final score in that one - 24-20? Taylor vs. Caldwell. Matt Brown vs. Storley and/or Perry. Ruth vs. Bosak. Quentin vs. Rosholt. Nico vs. 3 or 4 of the guys in his weight class.....all of that, and you still get 133, 141, 157, 285, and Jordan Oliver for free. This Southern Scuffle has really gotten good.

Last Note - yes, the Scuffle is still two weeks away, so this preview is a little early. But we're also in high-level negotiations to have Intermat's TR Foley swing by BSD for a interview on college wrestling and his thoughts on the Scuffle. So don't forget us over the break.

Really Last Note - Galen and I are planning open thread mayhem for the two days of wrestling, 1/1 and 1/2. A bunch of comments from fat guys watching wrestling in their underwear over the holidays. You won't want to miss it.

[EDIT: Big thanks to Frank, bveo, and jtothep for the heads up about UNC and elite VaTech attending Midlands instead of the Scuffle; the info about the likely 18 from PSU making the trip; and 'splainin the 10 total scorers.]

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