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Southern Scuffle 2014 Preview

33 teams take to the Resilite to start the New Year with a bang. Can't beat the Southern Scuffle.

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

Click here for a link to last year's brackets.

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.

125 LBS
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

133 LBS
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.

141 LBS
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)

149 LBS
1 #1 Nick Dardanes Minnesota
2 #3 Drake Houdashelt Missouri
3 #4 Josh Kindig Okie State
4 #7 Andrew Alton Penn 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

157 LBS
1 #2 Alex Dieringer Okie State
2 #3 Dylan Ness Minnesota
3 #5 Dylan Alton Penn State
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

165 LBS
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

174 LBS
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

184 LBS
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: 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)

197 LBS
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.

285 LBS
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.