Penn State starts the new year the way they’ve always (ignore 2017) started the new year in 2019, by taking a trip to Chattanooga for the Southern Scuffle.
The Nittany Lions come in as the heavy favorites and it would take something catastrophic happening for them not to come out on top.
But that doesn’t mean the tournament is without intrigue.
Despite a field diminished by the recent emergence of South Beach Duals, the Scuffle will still have a number of talented fields including a loaded bracket at 165.
We’ll go weight by weight and break down our picks to win, sleepers and points of intrigue.
What: 2019 Southern Scuffle
When: Jan. 1 and 2, EST
How to watch: FloWrestling (subscription only)
How to listen: GoPSUSports and the dulcet tones of Jeff Byers.
Ranked wrestlers: No. 4 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State), No. 20 Gabe Townsell (Stanford
In the mix: Cevion Severado (Mizzou), Rico Montoya (Northern Colorado), Antonio Minnino (Drexel), Brody Teske (Penn State), Shakur Laney (Ohio), Jaret Lane (Lehigh), Jakob Camacho (NC State), Alonzo Allen (UT-’Nooga)
Our guys: Devin Schnupp, Brody Teske (UNAT)
Pre-Seeds, from GoMocs.com:
- Nick Piccininni- Oklahoma St
- Rico Montoya- Northern Colorado
- Gabriel Townsell- Stanford
- Fabian Guttierrez- Chattanooga
- Shakur Laney- Ohio
- Alex Mackall- Iowa St
- Sidney Flores- Air Force
- Jonathan Tropea- Rider
Outlook: Piccininni comes into this one as the heavy favorite in the absence of any other truly established entries. The weight doesn’t lack for talent though as Townsell joins him in the mix as well as a plethora of talented freshen.
Severado, Camacho, Lane and Teske all come in as highly touted freshmen while Minnino has impressed in his early days for the Dragons.
Allen is a returning NCAA qualifier and could benefit from wrestling on home turf.
While Schnupp is the designated point scorer for the Nittany Lions, all eyes will surely be on the debuting Teske as the true freshman looks to make a claim for the starting spot.
Teske’s motor alone should give him a chance to compete in a lot of matches, but he’s not the biggest 125 and came in needing to clean up holes that were exposed a bit at Super 32 last year when he took fourth, albeit in a tough field.
Predictions: Piccininni wins, Schnupp DNP and Teske takes fifth.
Ranked wrestlers: No. 5 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State), No. 10 Austin Gomez (Iowa State, No. 19 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State)
In the mix: Sean Nickell (Cal State Bakersfield), Mason Pengilly (Stanford).
Our guys: Roman Bravo-Young
- Daton Fix- Oklahoma St
- Austin Gomez- Iowa St
- Roman Bravo-Young- Penn St
- Sean Nickell- Cal St- Bakersfield
- Mason Pengilly- Stanford
- Codi Russell- Appalachian St.
- Anthony DeCesare- Air Force
- Matt Kazimir- Columbia
Outlook: This weight isn’t as deep as 125, per se, but it’s way more intriguing at the top. Fix comes in with wins over Ethan Lizak and Montorie Bridges while Gomez is coming off a thrilling win over Austin Desanto in Carver Hawkeye Arena.
Bravo-Young finally enters the ranking after kicking the sh...er...crap out of Ryan Millhof who bumped up from 125 for Arizona and very quickly regretted it.
This should be our first chance to just how good Bravo-Young is as he has the least accomplished college resume of the three.
Sean Nickell could play spoiler as a redshirt senior and two-time NCAA qualifier, but he’s off to a pretty dismal start to the season and his struggles on bottom don’t bode well when it comes to wrestling Fix or RBY.
Predictions: Fix wins it, RBY takes second and knocks off Gomez in the semis.
Ranked wrestlers: No. 4 Nick Lee (Penn State), No. 11 Ian Parker (Iowa State), No. Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State), No. 20 Nic Gil.
In the mix: Frankie Gissendanner (Rider), Cam Kelly (Ohio), Cole Matthews (Pitt), Kyle Shoop (Lock Haven), Real Woods (Stanford).
Our guys: Nick Lee, Dom Giannangeli.
- Nick Lee- Penn St
- Kaid Brock- Oklahoma St
- Nick Gil- Navy
- Ian Parker- Iowa St
- Kyle Shoop- Lock Haven
- DJ Fehlman- Lock Haven
- Garrett O’Shea- Air Force
- Cole Matthews- Pittsburgh- UNAT
Outlook: Nick Lee comes into the Scuffle looking like a title contender, but we’ll get a real sense of just how well he’s wrestling in Chattanooga.
While Brock has surprisingly taken three losses already this year (one to Sam Turner of Wyoming who he’d already beaten), he’s still as dangerous as ever on his feet.
Parker would’ve almost assuredly been a 2018 NCAA qualifier had it not been for an injury that ended his season early. He’ll likely meet Brock for the first of what could be three times this season if both advance to the semifinals.
Gil is a 2018 qualifier who went 2-2 with losses to eventual champ Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell and Illinois’ Mike Carr.
Gissendanner, Matthews and Woods are all true freshman who are redshirting but come in with much aplomb.
Predictions: Lee tops Brock in the finals, while Giannangeli DNP.
Ranked wrestlers: No. 6 Mitch Finesilver (Duke), No. 7 Jarrett Degen (Iowa State), Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State), No. 12 Brady Berge (Penn State), No. 19 Jared Prince (Navy)
In the mix: Tejon Anthony (George Mason), Russell Rohlfing (CSU-Bakersfield), Requir Van Der Merwe (Stanford), Jarod Verkleeren (Penn State), Matt Zovistoski (App. State)
Our guys: Brady Berge, Jarod Verkleeren, Luke Gardner.
- Mitch Finesilver- Duke
- Kaden Gfeller- Oklahoma St
- Jarrett Degen- Iowa St
- Brady Berge- Penn St
- Jared Prince- Navy
- Jarod Verkleeren- Penn St
- Russell Rohlfing- Cal St- Bakersfield
- Matt Zovistoski- Appalachian St
Outlook: This may well be the thiccest weight in ‘Nooga.
In addition to five of the top 20, we’ve got NCAA qualifiers in Anthony, Rohlfing and Zovistoski, a tough customer in Van Der Merwe, and of course Verkleeren who is looking to find his way back into the Penn State lineup.
Gfeller was the champ here a year ago at 141, pinning Nick Lee in the finals. He enters the Okie State lineup after an injury to returning All-American Boo Lewallen.
Degen was the only qualifier for the Cyclones a year ago and went 2-2 at the tournament, while Finesilver went 29-6 and lost in the blood round to Josh Shields of Arizona State.
Finesilver won the Keystone Classic earlier in the year, but Berge defaulted in that final and Verkleeren didn’t hit him.
Prince is only 3-6 on the year, but was 21-6 a year ago and qualified for the NCAA tourament a year ago.
Berge comes in off the biggest win of his college career over Josh Maruca, though it wasn’t his most impressive performance. He seems to have taken a grasp of the spot in the starting lineup, but he’ll need to back it up at the Scuffle.
Verkleeren, meanwhile, lost the spot at the Keystone Classic and has only wrestled one match since, winning 5-3 in the dual against Lehigh, against an unranked wrestler. If he can outplace Berge in a tough Scuffle field, he could well find himself back in the lineup.
Gardner placed at the Keystone and could play spoiler for someone else looking to making a deep run.
Predictions: Berge takes third behind Finesilver and Degen, while Verkleeren takes seventh and Gardner DNP.
Ranked wrestlers: No. 1 Jason Nolf (Penn State), No. 12 Paul Fox (Stanford), No. 17 Andrew Shomers (Oklahoma State).
In the mix: Jonce Blaylock (Oklahoma State), David Carr (Iowa State), Zac Carson (Ohio), Kolby Ho (George Mason), Quentin Hovis (Navy), BC LaPrade (Va. Tech), Alex Mossing (Air Force), Dan Reed (Columbia).
Our guys: Jason Nolf, Bo Pipher.
- Jason Nolf- Penn St
- Paul Fox- Stanford
- Dan Reed- Columbia
- Dom Mandarino- Stanford
- BC Laprade- Virginia Tech
- Kolby Ho- George Mason
- Alexander Mossing- Air Force
- Alex Klucker- Lock Haven
Outlook: Not to be all #NolfNextTopic. That being said...Nolf, next topic.
Jason Nolf is going to roll to win in this one, but there could be intrigue further down.
Shomers beat out Blaylock for the Pokes’ starting spot, but I’m not sure that one is settling. Fox, meanwhile, is a two-time NCAA qualifier who reached the blood round a year ago after becoming an All-American in St. Louis in 2017.
The wildcard in all of this is Carr. The Cyclones star freshman is 18-1 in his redshirt year with his only loss coming to fellow stud frosh Peyton Mocco of Mizzou.
Carr could very well be standing opposite Nolf in the finals should he be drawn on the other side.
Hovis came into Navy with a good amount of hype but has struggled a bit early in his career. He went 17-6 a year ago, but picked up no ranked wins and is just 2-2 this year with a loss to Pipher at the Bearcast Open.
Predictions: Nolf rolls to the win, Pipher DNP.
Ranked wrestlers: No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State), No. 3 Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven), No. 6 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State), No. 8 Mekhi Lewis (Va. Tech), No. 20 Zach Finesilver.
In the mix: Shane Griffith (Stanford), Mason Manville (Penn State), Tyler Marinelli (Gardner-Webb), Colt Yinger (Ohio).
Our guys: Vincenzo Joseph, Mason Manville.
- Vincenzo Joseph- Penn St
- Chance Marsteller- Lock Haven
- Chandler Rogers- Oklahoma St
- Mekhi Lewis- Virginia Tech
- Jesse Dellavecchia- Rider
- Tyler Marinelli- Gardner Webb
- Zach Finesilver- Duke
- Colston DiBlasi- George Mason
Outlook: Scratch what we said about 149, 165 is the premier weight at the Scuffle.
Two-time defending NCAA champ Cenzo Joseph heads up the field, but he won’t go unchallenged.
Returning All-American Chance Marsteller looks to continue his career resurgence at Lock Haven. Marsteller took fourth in the nation last year after a 44-4 season. Marsteller and Joseph have yet to meet.
Chandlers Rogers is a two-time All-American who took eighth a year ago after finishing fifth in 2017. Joseph is 1-0 career against Rogers, owning a 12-4 major decision victory.
The final true contender is redshirt freshman Mekhi Lewis. Lewis burst onto the scene this summer when he took home a UWW Junior World gold medal at 74 kilograms. He then backed that up with a second-place finish earlier this year at Cliff Keen Las Vegas with wins over No. 9 Bryce Steiert and No. 10 Branson Ashworth.
Griffith is a highly touted true freshman from Bergen Catholic. He’s currently 14-1 in his redshirt year with an 8-1 victory over No. 17 Andrew Fogarty.
Lastly, Manville’s credentials speak for themselves (if credentials could speak). The former cadet world champ has taken a roundabout path thus far in his college career after taking a gap year and making a senior world team in Greco-Roman. He’s now back down at 165 for the first time this year and his solid positioning and strong hand fighting alone make him a threat.
Predictions: Cenzo takes the title with a win over Marsteller, while Manville takes sixth.
Ranked wrestlers: No. 1 (sounds good, right?) Mark Hall (Penn State), No. 5 David McFadden (Va. Tech), No. 18 Spencer Carey (Navy), No. 20 Matt Finesilver (Duke).
In the mix: Marcus Coleman (Iowa State), Trent Hidlay (NC State), Joe Smith (Oklahoma State).
Our guys: Mark Hall
- Mark Hall- Penn St
- David McFadden- Virginia Tech
- Joe Smith- Oklahoma St
- Spencer Carey- Navy
- Matt Finesilver- Duke
- Trent Hidlay- North Carolina St.- UNAT
- Jacob Oliver- Edinboro
- Marcus Coleman- Iowa St.
Outlook: Mark should be the pretty heavy favorite here, but he’s certainly helped by gaining the first seed on the opposite side of McFadden, who took third last year in Cleveland at 165.
Joe Smith returns to the mat this year for the Pokes up two weight classes following a redshirt season. Smith is a two-time All-American at 157 and it appears by the published entry list that Oklahoma State is bumping Jacobe Smith to their 184-pound spot vacated by Dakota Geer, which we’ll discuss later.
Trent Hidlay is the one that could play the spoiler here.
The true freshman and younger brother of 2018 finalist Hayden Hidlay, is 12-0 thus far this season with wins over Manville and No. 16 Brandon Womack.
Predictions: Hall takes home the title over McFadden.
Ranked wrestlers: No. 3 Shakur Rasheed (Penn State), No. 7 @ 174 Jacobe Smith (Oklahoma State), No. 9 Lou DePrez (Binghamton), No. 17 Sammy Colbray (Iowa State).
In the mix: Chris Weiler (Lehigh).
Our guys: Shakur Rasheed, Franny Bisono.
- Shakur Rasheed- Penn St
- Jacobe Smith- Oklahoma St
- Lou Deprez- Binghamton
- Sam Colbray- Iowa St
- Stanley Smeltzer- Virginia Tech
- Chris Weiler- Lehigh
- Hunter Bolen- Virginia Tech- UNAT
- Dominic Lampe- Chattanooga
An already thin weight is hurt even more by the absence of No. 7 Zack Zavatsky of Virginia Tech and No. 15 Corey Hazel of Lock Haven, both of whom are out due to injury. But it is now bolstered by the bump up of Jacobe Smith, who is filling the Cowboy lineup spot vacated by the aforementioned Geer, who makes the journey up to 197 following a potential long-term injury to previous starter Preston Weigel.
Rasheed, who ripped through the field to win the Scuffle at 197 a year ago, remains the favorite, but he’ll get his toughest test of year on paper should he meet Lou DePrez (the highly touted freshman had one of the best redshirt seasons in the country a year ago) or 2018 AA Jacobe Smith, in the finals.
Rasheed could also get a decent challenge from Sammy Colbray in the semis. The Iowa State junior came to Ames with a lot of expectations and is finally beginning to hit his stride after wrestling at 197 as a freshman and sophomore.
Weiler makes the descent from 197 after losing his starting spot to Jake Jakobsen. He fell a round short of becoming an All-American up a weight in 2018.
Predictions: Rasheed tops DePrez in the finals. Bisono DNP.
Ranked wrestlers: No. 1 Bo Nickal (Penn State), No. 6 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State), No. 10 Nathan Traxler (Stanford), No. 12 Jacob Seely (Northern Colorado), No. 14 Stepehen Loiseau (Drexel), No. 16 Tom Sleigh (Va. Tech), No. 20 Randall Diabe (App. State)
In the mix: Kyle Gentile (Lehigh), Andrew Marsden (Oklahoma State), Sawyer Root (The Citadel).
Our guys: Bo Nickal
- Bo Nickal-Penn St
- Dakota Geer- Oklahoma St
- Nathan Traxler- Stanford
- Stephen Loiseau- Drexel
- Tom Sleigh- Virginia Tech
- Jacob Seely- Northern Colorado
- Randall Diabe- Appalachian St
- Kyle Gentile- Lehigh
Outlook: So, we’ll start with the understanding that Bo is going to win this comfortably and go from there.
Despite the absence of Iowa State’s Willie Miklus, this is actually one of the best weights in the tournament with seven ranked wrestlers.
Geer entered the rankings at No. 6 after making the bump up, in part because this weight is a disaster area and not in the good way.
He’ll have a chance to prove himself against Traxler should they both make the semis, but an unseeded Marsden could make this whole thing a bit willy nilly.
Unfortunately we don’t get to the grey shirting Michael Beard who looked fantastic on his way to a Clarion Open win back in November.
If Geer can handle the bigger wrestlers, which I think he’ll be able to do, he’s the best of the rest in this field.
Predictions: Nickal over Geer via major decision.
Ranked wrestlers: No. 2 Anthony Cassar (Penn State), No. 4 Derek White (Oklahoma State), No. 6 Billy Miller (Va. Tech), No. 9 Thomas Haines (Lock Haven), No. 11 Matt Voss (George Mason), No. 17 Joey Goodhart.
In the mix: Nick Nevills (Penn State), Francis Duggan (Iowa State).
Our guys: Anthony Cassar, Nick Nevills.
- Anthony Cassar- Penn St
- Nick Nevills- Penn St
- Derek White- Oklahoma St
- Billy Miller- Virginia Tech
- Matt Voss- George Mason
- Thomas Haines- Lock Haven
- Joey Goodhart- Drexel
- Colin Lawler- North Carolina St- UNAT
Outlook: The final weight is the deepest weight in an otherwisse thin weight class, nationally.
Cassar has been the talk of the town this season and will get a chance to show why in ‘Nooga.
He’s got the top seed while Nevills grabbed the two, with White right behind.
Should White top Nevills, something that’s far from guaranteed if not unexpected, Cassar will have a chance to further distance himself from the non-Gable Steveson pack with a win.
The rankings are a bit misleading, however, as Maryland’s Youssif Hemida and Oregon State’s Amar Dhesi came out due to inactivity.
Cassar’s path to a final would have to go through Miller, a transfer from Edinboro, in the semis.
Nevills has the more difficult path, as the two seed. He’d have to dispatch of Goodhart in the quarters before meeting White (in all likelihood) in the semis.
Haines, a former Penn State commit turned Ohio State signee turned Lock Haven representative, draws the six and could well shake things up by knocking off White in quarters.
If Nevills can come through a pretty testy field and knock off Cassar in the finals, Cael Sanderson could have a tough decision to make when it comes to his lineup going forward.
It’s largely believed that he has two of the top three or four heavyweights in the country; an all-PSU final would only add fuel to that fire.
Predictions: Cassar over Nevills in the final. Haines knocks off White in the quarters.
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
- Virginia Tech
- Iowa State
- Lock Haven