Southern Scuffle shapes up as mighty battle in Chattanooga

Southern Scuffle shapes up as mighty battle in Chattanooga

January 2nd, 2014 by Ward Gossett in Sports - College

UTC's Nick Soto (yellow) takes on Oklahoma State's Brian Crutchmer (orange) during the Southern Scuffle NCAA wrestling tournament Wednesday at McKenzie Arena. Soto won the bout 3-2.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

Southern Scuffle Team Scores

1. Minnesota 53.5 points, 2. Penn State 53, 3. Oklahoma State 50.5, 4. Cornell 40, 5. Iowa State 39.5, 6. Missouri 35.5, 7. Virginia 33.5, 8. Kent State 31, 9. Oregon State 28.5, 10. Air Force 28. 11. Old Dominion 27, 12. South Dakota State 26, 13. Boston 25, Pittsburgh 25, Stanford 25, 16. UTC 23, Ohio 23, 18. Central Michigan 21.5, 19. Penn, 20. North Carolina 19.5, 21. Duke 18.5, 22. Hofstra 16, 23. Navy 15.5, 24. North Carolina State 12.5, 25. Northern Colorado 12, 26. Appalachian State 11, Drexel 11, 28. American 10, Arizona State 10, 30. The Citadel 9, 31. Army 8, Bucknell 8, 33. Cleveland State U. 7, 34. Campbell 6.5.

Mocs at the Scuffle

Championship round of 64

133--Nick Soto tech. fall over Austin Marsico (Army), 18-2; 141--Eli Bienstock (Cornell) dec. Mike Pongracz, 5-3; 149--Donovan Halpin (Stanford) dec. Shawn Greevy, 4-3; 149--Augustus Sako (Virginia) pinned Austin Sams, 1:34; 174--Levi Clemons major dec. Mike Vollant (Kent State), 12-3; 184--Ryan Garriner (Ohio) major de. D.J. Franklin Smith, 14-2; 184--John Lampe dec. Michael Macchiavallo (N.C. State, 5-3; 184--Michael Sojka (Stanford) dec. Ira Dent, 2-0; 197--Scottie Boykin dec. Ryan Solomon (Pittsburg), 7-3.

Championship round of 32

125--Caleb Richardson tech. fall over Byron Smith, 16-0; 133--Nick Soto dec. Tyler Keselring (Central Michigan), 4-0; 157--Thomas Gantt (N.C. State) dec. Michael Hooker, 4-0; 157--John Nicholson (Iowa State) dec. Alex Hudson 6-4 OT (SV-1); 165--Zach Toal (Missouri) major dec. Trey Stavrum, 10-0; 174--Scott Marmoll (North Carolina) dec. Levi Clemons, 6-2; 184--Lawrence Thomas (Penn) dec. John Lampe, 7-4; 184--Mike England (Missouri) pinned Barrett Walthall, 5:31; 197--Conner Hartmann (Duke) dec. Scottie Boykin, 9-4.

Championship round of 16

133--Nick Soto dec. Brian Crutchmer (Oklahoma State), 3-2.

Consolation round two

125--Byron Smith pinned John Martin (Cleveland State), 3;54; 141--Mike Pongracz dec. Quentin Leadbeter (Navy), 3-1; 149--Shawn Greevy major dec. Nick Montgomery (Cleveland State), 14-5; Scott Sakaguchi (Oregon State) major dec. Austin Sams, 13-4; 157--Michael Hooker dec. Andrew Romanchik (Ohio), 5-2; 157--John Nicholson (Iowa State) dec. Alex Hudson 6-4, OT (SV-1); 174--Levi Clemons dec. Samson Imonode (Army), 7-1; 184--Devin Hightower (Air Force) major dec. D.J. Fralin Smith, 9-0; John Lampe major dec. Ira Dent (UTC), 8-7; 197--Scottie Boykin tech. fall over Cole Breigel (Northern Colorado), 16-1.

Consolation round three

125--Tyler Dorrell (Oklahoma State) pinned Byron Smith, 3:57; 141--Mike Pongracz major dec. Xaviel Ramos (Duke), 12-3; 149--Shawn Greevy dec. Gerald McGinty (Air Force), 7-3; 157--Brandon Kingsley (Minnesota) pinned Alex Hudson, 1:55; 157--Tristan Warner (Old Dominion) dec. Michael Hooker, 7-4; 165--Alex Elder (Oregon State) pinned Trey Stavrum, 2:11; 174--Levi Clemons dec. Eric Des Lauriers (Boston), 8-1; 174--Johnny Watson (Navy) dec. Barrett Walthall, 9-2; 184--Joohn Lampe dec. Ryan Tompkins (Army), 3-2; 197--Scottie Boykin major dec. Bryce Barnes (Army), 19-7.

The anticipated dogfight for the Southern Scuffle wrestling championship is no pipe dream.

The cream of college wrestling's crop saw to that Wednesday and set the stage for some monstrous, and entertaining, individual battles beginning at 9 this morning when the Scuffle resumes at McKenzie Arena.

Minnesota, currently ranked No. 2 nationally, held a half-point lead over consensus national No. 1 Penn State with Oklahoma State, ranked No. 4 in the latest national rankings, three points behind the Golden Gophers.

"It's one of the best tournaments of the year now," Minnesota coach J. Robinson said. "It used to be the Midlands, but if you look up and down the weight classes [the Scuffle] is definitely a tougher tournament."

The Gophers had scored 53.5 points to 53 for defending champ Penn State, 50.5 for Oklahoma State, 40 for Cornell and 39.5 for Iowa State. Missouri was sixth with 35.5, followed by Virginia, Ken State, Oregon State and Air Force.

UTC, whose 133-pound Nick Soto advanced to this morning's quarterfinals, stood in 16th place.

Cael Sanderson's Penn State crew advanced 10 to the quarterfinals, while Minnesota had nine and Oklahoma State six. Former champ Cornell, Virginia and Missouri had five each.

"We're sitting right where we want to be," Robinson said. "The guys have done a good job of winning the matches they need to. Scoring bonus points is going to be huge. Penn State always puts up a ton of bonus points, and Oklahoma State's done a good job."

Added host coach Heath Eslinger, "I knew it wasn't going to be a one-team race. I felt there were four or five teams that could compete [for the team title]. Nobody has distanced themselves. The tournament is in a great place."

Of the 34 teams entered, 24 had at least one wrestler in the quarterfinals, including the Mocs, whose Soto is hoping to return to the finals appearance he had two years ago.

"Nick lost two close matches to top-20-type guys. One was overtime and one he led till the last five seconds of the match," Mocs assistant Jon Sioredas said. "We had some consistency issues. This year the difference is that he has been in a zone for the last several weeks. From a staff standpoint, we can't tell if he's tired, if he's winning or if he's losing. He doesn't lose his composure. He's just in a really good place right now."

Soto is, in fact, the newly named Southern Conference wrestler of the week after going 6-0 in the Dec. 18-31 span, with a win over No. 1-ranked Ryan Mango of Stanford and two days later earning the 133-pound title in the Reno Tournament of Champions.

UTC has several wrestlers coming back through the Scuffle consolation rounds, including Mike Pongracz (141), Shawn Greevy (149), Levi Clemons (174), John Lampe (184) and Scottie Boykin (197).

"I don't think Scottie's performance is a surprise," Sioredas said of Boykin, a true freshman. "When you have a good attitude and put forth great effort, good things will happen. He's just beginning to scratch the surface of what he can do."

Eslinger was disappointed in the Mocs' second-round performance but felt better later.

"Bouncing back is just part of sports. We are going to believe in our guys through the highs and lows," he said. "Alex Hudson (157) is going through some lows right now, and I know our guys will rally around him.

"I wasn't pleased with our round of 32. Other than that, I'm OK. Our effort was better every other round. Some of the guys got better as the day went on."

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