published Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

UTC could host NCAA wrestling tournament in Atlanta

  • photo
    Penn State's Frank Molinaro lifts Dylan Ness of Minnesota during the 145-pound championship match at the Southern Scuffle wrestling tournament in McKenzie Arena at UTC on Monday. Molinaro won the championship match by a pin.
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Southern Scuffle could wind up as a prelude to an Atlanta visit for the NCAA wrestling tournament with the possibility of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga serving as the host team.

"We're using this tournament to show the NCAA and the [college] coaches that we're capable of handling the tournament," Bud Hennebaul said.

A UTC assistant wrestling coach under Jim Morgan for one year and for Ethan Reeve for two seasons, Hennebaul has run Georgia high school state tournaments for years in addition to the Scuffle, which moved this yeare to Chattanooga from Greensboro, N.C.

"We are meeting with UTC [officials] later this week to see how interested they might be," he said.

The 2012 NCAA tournament is in St. Louis. It is moves to Des Moines, Iowa, in 2013 and to Oklahoma City the next year. The Atlanta bid would be for 2015.

Hennebaul has been working with the Atlanta Sports Council, headed by Dan Corso, and has spent much of his time with Ken Chin, the group's vice president for business development and events.

It's expected that Atlanta will be bidding against Philadelphia, which had the tournament last year; Boston; St. Louis; and Phoenix.

"Those are the ones we absolutely know of," Hennebaul said.

A source close to the bid process said Philadelphia plunked down around $2 million for the 2011 event, but travel and venue could be in Atlanta's favor.

"The airport in Atlanta is one of the cheapest in the country to fly in and out of," Hennebaul said.

And the venue Atlanta is proposing is the Georgia Dome, which could be halved and still easily accommodate more than 19,000 fans.

"There are many hotels within walking distance, but there's also a lot to do within walking distance -- the Georgia Aquarium, the CNN center, the Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Park and the World of Coca-Cola, and the College Football Hall of Fame will be open by then," Hennebaul said.

'Piece of cake'

As an added bonus to attending the Scuffle, participating teams will have access to videos from most of the tournament matches. The 15-CD set features selected early bouts and almost everything from the championship and consolation quarterfinals on.

They'll be professional products, put together by longtime NCAA tournament video ace and longtime McCallie coach Gordon Connell.

"After working the NCAA tournaments, this is a piece of cake," said Connell, who has been the official videographer for the NCAA tournament since 2000.

While he used four cameras and taped from the Gold Circle at the Scuffle, Connell had a 17-man crew with two guys, a camera and a DVD machine at each mat.

Next year

The dates aren't yet etched in stone, but it appears that Chattanooga's second time to host the Southern Scuffle will be Jan. 3-4 of 2013. Several of the teams have indicated their intent to return, but one that apparently will not is Oregon State, which may have opted for the 50th anniversary Midlands tournament.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765.

about Ward Gossett...

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 ...

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