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UTC wrestler Matthew Waddell, right, shown during the Mocs' Southern Scuffle tournament earlier this month, when he finished fourth in the 184-pound weight class, won a title Saturday at Appalachian State's tournament. / Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestler Tanner Smith made it to the podium at the Southern Scuffle without breaking a sweat in Thursday night's medal round at McKenzie Arena.

Smith finished fifth at 149 pounds in a walkover after Stanford's Requir van der Merwe retired from the competition with an injury. Van der Merwe was the bracket's No. 1 seed.

"I guess I'll take that after a long two days," the sixth-seeded Smith said. "I'm just happy I was able to get fifth place."

Smith's forfeit win paired with a fourth-place finish by fellow sophomore Matthew Waddell, the 184-pound bracket's No. 4 seed, highlighted the final session of the two-day tournament for the host Mocs. UTC finished 13th in the prestigious competition with 46 points against some of the nation's top teams.

"It was great having our fans and being on our home turf," Smith said. "This is like having home-field advantage. So it was important for us to put on a show for our fans and give them something to cheer about."

Waddell lost a major decision to Pittsbugh's Nino Bonaccorsi in the consolation finals, 13-1. Waddell opened Thursday with a 3-2 loss to second-ranked Trent Hidlay from North Carolina State in the championship semifinals, but he defeated Oklahoma State's Anthony Montalvo 4-2 to advance to the third-place match against Bonaccorsi, the No. 3 seed.

Waddell fell behind early in the medal match, but coach Kyle Ruschell was pleased with his tournament performance overall.

"That last match wasn't really Matthew, and he's another guy on the team who's going through a little bit of stuff health-wise," Ruschell said. He just showed that we don't have to be 100% healthy to battle with the best guys in the country."

Said Waddell: "This is a tough tournament, especially after coming back from Christmas and only having like five or six days after eating all that good food. We competed really well, and we always compete hard. There are a few things that could have gone different, but I think we're content with how we did."

UTC 133-pounder Colton Landers, another sophomore, had also advanced to Thursday's competition but was unable to wrestle due to a medical matter. The former Cleveland High School standout had to forfeit to third-seeded Mosha Schwartz of Northern Colorado when a win would have guaranteed a place on the podium.

"He had done a good job, and he was battling a little bit of health issues," Ruschell said. "He showed how good he can be even when he's not even at his best. He did some things that we had been preaching to him for a while.

Oklahoma State scored 116 points to finish first in the field of 28 full teams, followed by North Carolina State with 109 points. Stanford (99.5), Pittsburgh (93) and North Dakota State (92.5) rounded out the top five.

West Virginia 197-pounder Noah Adams was named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler, and George Mason University's Colston DiBlasi won the Gorriaran Award for most pins in the tournament with four that took a total of 14 minutes and 59 seconds.

The Southern Scuffle remains a premier event for the city and a showcase for the Mocs, who also got a preview of some of the nation's top wrestlers as they prepare for the push toward the Southern Conference and NCAA tournaments in March.

"This is a pretty good look at nationals," Waddell said. "Just in my class, there were eight ranked guys. There's a bunch of tough teams here, so this is a good way to get ready and prepare for trying to peak at the right time."

Ruschell, now in his second season at UTC, said the Scuffle is a chance to highlight the facilities, the university and everyone who makes the massive event happen.

"With the amount of volunteers that we have in this community and the alumni that we have who come out to support us and help out, it's just incredible," he said. "Our administration and our staff just get behind this. It's one big family, and they let me coach, which is huge.

"It's really special, and I'm just glad to be a part of it."

Contact Jim Tanner at JFTanner@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JFTanner.

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