Biggest Scuffle yet has 10 Top 25 teams

Biggest Scuffle yet has 10 Top 25 teams

December 31st, 2013 by Ward Gossett in Sports - College

UTC's Nick Soto, top, wrestles Bucknell's Austin Miller in the 125-pound weight class during the 2012 Southern Scuffle wrestling tournament held at McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga.

Photo by Alyson Wright/Times Free Press.

SOUTHERN SCUFFLE AT McKENZIE ARENA

• Admission: $20 per person reserved, $15 general admission, $5 students each day.

SCHEDULE

Wednesday, Jan. 1

• 9 a.m. -- Round of 64; Noon -- Round of 32, Consolations first round; 3 p.m.-- Consolations second round; 5:45 -- Round of 16; Consolations third round.

Thursday, Jan. 2

• 9 a.m. -- Championship quarterfinals; 11:30 a.m. -- Consolations fifth round; 12:30 -- Consolations sixth round; 1:30 -- Championship semifinals, consolation quarterfinals; 3:30 -- Consolation semifinals; 7 -- Medal rounds for first, third, fifth, seventh.

College wrestling's movers and shakers are either in town or on the way for the Southern Scuffle, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's prequel to the NCAA tournament.

The field is stacked with super powers, including defending national champion Penn State, which also is the defending Scuffle champ. The Nittany Lions recently were voted No. 1 unanimously in the NWCA coaches' poll.

Others from the Top 25 taking part at McKenzie Arena are No. 2 Minnesota, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Cornell, No. 12 Iowa State, No. 13 Missouri, No. 17 Virginia, No. 18 Pittsburgh, No. 21 Oregon State and No. 22 Stanford.

"The teams make it a great wrestling tournament. Our job is to make it a great wrestling event," UTC coach Heath Eslinger said.

To that end, Scuffle festivities begin today with a New Year's Eve bash at Waterhouse Pavilion downtown. Admission to the event, sponsored by the Chattanooga Takedown Club, is $35 per person or $60 per couple. There also will be a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast at the University Center before Thursday's wrestling. Flips Wrestling, one of the tournament's presenting sponsors, is hosting a clinic featuring two-time NCAA champ and four-time All-American Jordan Oliver on Thursday afternoon at Maclellan Gym during a pre-finals intermission.

This year's tournament, the 11th overall and the third sponsored by UTC, begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Reserved seating, at a cost of $25 per person per day or $40 for a two-day pass, is new this year and encompasses all seats below the Gold Circle. General-admission tickets are $15 per person per day, and student tickets are $5.

The field of 34 teams and tops the previous high for a Scuffle by eight.

Teams attending that finished in the 2013 NCAA tournament's top 25 are Central Michigan, The Citadel, North Carolina and Kent State.

The rest of the field includes UTC, Air Force, American, Appalachian State, Arizona State, Army, Boston, Bucknell, Campell, Cleveland State, Drexel, Duke, Hofstra, Navy, North Carolina State, Northern Colorado, Ohio, Old Dominion, Pennsylvania and South Dakota State.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.