The biggest name in collegiate wrestling has signed on to wrestle in the Southern Scuffle.
Penn State coach Cael Sanderson notified University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Heath Eslinger earlier this week that he’ll be bringing the defending national champions to the tournament, which will be held Jan. 1-2 at McKenzie Arena.
“This is big for the tournament and for Chattanooga,” Eslinger said. “With Penn State’s commitment we now have three of the top five teams in the country coming to the tournament.”
The other top five members are Cornell and Minnesota.
Hofstra also has committed to the tournament, upping the field to 22 teams.
“We wanted to have more than 20 teams, and we’re there,” Eslinger said. “If we add a few more, then great.”
Top 25 teams that had previously committed to the tournament in addition to Penn State, Cornell and Minnesota include Missouri, Oregon State, Indiana and Virginia. Also competing will be Appalachian State, Army, Campbell, Cleveland State, Duke, Gardner Webb, North Carolina, Ohio, Old Dominion and Virginia Tech.
Penn State is expected to have several All-Americans in attendance including Frank Molinaro (149), David Taylor (157), Ed Ruth (174) and Quentin Wright (184). Molinaro is a three-time All-American and Wright a two-timer.
Hofstra finished 26th at the NCAA tournament and will have one All-American returning in junior 165-pounder P.J. Gillespie.
The Southern Scuffle will be making its Chattanooga debut, moving here from Greensboro, N.C. after UNC-Greensboro dropped its wrestling program following the 2010-2011 season.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...