UTC checking interest in three-day Scuffle

UTC checking interest in three-day Scuffle

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

Oklahoma State's Chris Perry (orange) takes on Appalachian State's Nick Kee (black) in a 174 weight class bout during the Southern Scuffle NCAA wrestling tournament at McKenzie Arena, in Chattanooga on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014.

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

With an eye toward building on the success of the Southern Scuffle over the last three years, tournament organizers and host coach Heath Eslinger are toying with the idea of taking the tournament from two days to three.

While there are concerns about extra-day expenses for the teams, there also is the thought of mirroring the year-end NCAA tournament and making the event even more enjoyable for fans and competitors. Eslinger, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach who pounced on the tournament when longtime host UNC-Greensboro dropped its wrestling program, is in the process of polling participating coaches. He indicated that there was no hurry to make a decision.

It appears that the tournament will remain on Jan. 1-2. If a third day of competition is added, the tournament could be Jan. 1-3 or the first three-day weekend in January. That is something to be determined after Eslinger completes his straw poll, which definitely will include Penn State's Cael Sanderson, Cornell's Rob Koll, Iowa State's Kevin Jackson, Missouri's Brian Smith, Oklahoma State's John Smith and Minnesota's J. Robinson.

The Scuffle's only mid-year tournament competition is the Midlands, which has lost much of its popularity because of the Scuffle.

'Sis' Morgan service Friday

The funeral service for "Sis" Morgan is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Lane Funeral Home on Ashland Terrace. Visitation is scheduled from 11 a.m. to just before 1.

"Sis" was well-known in wrestling circles because of her long support of husband Jim, for years the head coach at UTC and then at Baylor. She died after a yearlong battle with cancer.

A summer stroll

Former Mocs coach Chris Bono was in short sleeves Tuesday when he walked across the Market Street Bridge and grabbed a burger. The overcast skies and 40-degree weather made it like a summer stroll for Bono, now head coach at South Dakota State.

"It was like summer. That's like a 50-degree swing from home (Brookings, S.D.)," he said. "I think the high one day next week is minus-15."

Bono has a current Chattanooga connection. He signed Baylor School's Brandon Brunner last year. Brunner is currently redshirting.

Watson missing

Former Baylor standout Zach Watson, who injured his shoulder in last year's Scuffle while wrestling unattached (in a redshirt season), was sidelined for this year's tournament after tweaking the shoulder earlier this season.

McCallie's Alex Elsea, a true freshman at Duke, lost his first two matches.

Mocs battling injuries

The host team is battling through flu and injuries, which kept two of its top medal hopefuls out of the tournament.

Corey Mock, UTC's unbeaten 165-pounder, has been down with the flu since Sunday. He's ranked fourth in the latest Amateur Wrestling News with an 18-0 record and has yet to give up any dual meet points.

Meanwhile, heavyweight Kevin Malone was at McKenzie Arena on Wednesday but just as a spectator. The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder suffered a devastating injury in the Mocs' meet at Stanford. He and his opponent both fell and the first thing to hit the mat -- with the pressure of both wrestlers' weight -- was Malone's knee.

It is thought that he suffered torn anterior medial, posterior and lateral ligaments. He is scheduled to have an MRI today.

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