Minnesota's Chris Dardanes won the Scuffle at 133 in 2012 and was runner-up in last year's match above. He has moved up to 141 for the 2014 tournament.
Courtesy: GoMocs.com
#LetsScuffle 141 & 149

#LetsScuffle Previews:  125 | 133

TheSouthernScuffle.com continues its preview of the 2014 tournament with today’s #LetsScuffle look at the 141 and 149 brackets. The 141 field has five of the current top 10 in the Intermat College Rankings, while 149 includes six of the best in 10 in the nation.

The two favorites at 141 have both won a Scuffle title in their careers, beginning with the defending champion Cornell senior Michael Nevinger.  A 2013 All-American, Nevinger is currently ranked No. 6.  He lost to Maryland’s Shyheim Brown (5-0) before defeating Illinois’ Steven Rodrigues (7-4) at the Grapple in the Garden on Dec. 1.

“We haven’t seen a lot from Michael Nevinger this year, but the Scuffle could be the event that kick-starts his season,” stated Chattanooga head coach Heath Eslinger.  “He is the defending champ and a two-time All-American.  If he is healthy, he can certainly get it done.” 

Minnesota junior Chris Dardanes was the 133 champion in 2012 and runner-up last season.  He is also a two-time All-American, but has moved up to 141 where he is No. 4 in the country.  He won the Bison Open to start the season and is 4-0 in dual matches.   

“Dardanes is the top-ranked wrestler in the field right now and is having a great season,” said Eslinger.  “I think he has to be one of the favorites going into the tournament, but there is a lot of tough competition from top to bottom at this weight.”

North Carolina junior All-American Evan Henderson is up to No. 7 with a 10-1 record.  His only loss was to Hofstra senior Luke Vaith in overtime at the Hokie Duals.  Vaith is currently No. 14 in the country and also in the Scuffle field.  Vaith is 16-3 overall and just finished fourth at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Open.     

“I think Evan Henderson is one of the most dangerous wrestlers in the class,” added Eslinger.  “He has the ability to pin anyone at any moment and is off to a great start.  Luke Vaith has also proven that he can beat any of the top guys in the country.”

Henderson joins No. 8 Zain Retherford (Penn State – Fr.) and No. 9 Chris Mecate (Old Dominion – So.) as the other top-10s in the field.  Retherford is 10-0 while Mecate has a 9-3 mark.  Two of Mecate’s three losses this season have come against Henderson. 

Oklahoma State junior Julian Feikert and The Citadel sophomore Ugi Khishingnyam are two others who placed at last year’s Scuffle and could also be in the field.  Feikert was sixth in 2013 while Khishingnyam lost in the finals to Nevinger 3-2.  Khishingnyam was an All-American in 2013, but is yet to compete this season.

Other ranked wrestlers at 141 include No. 11 Zach Horan (Central Michigan – So.), No. 12 Anthony Collica (Oklahoma State – Fr.) and No. 19 Edgar Bright (Pittsburgh – Fr.). 

“This another deep weight class, loaded with tough competition,” said Eslinger.  “It has several returning All-Americans and several returning Scuffle placers.  It should be exciting to see where the seeds fall and who is in the quarters, semifinals and finals.”

Ranked Wrestlers at 141 (Intermat 12/10)

Rank Name School Year

2013 Scuffle Place
at 141

4 Chris Dardanes** Minnesota Junior  
6 Mike Nevinger** Cornell Senior 1st
7 Evan Henderson*  North Carolina Junior  
8 Zain Retherford Penn State  Freshman  
9 Chris Mecate  Old Dominion  Sophomore  4th 
11 Zach Horan  Central Michigan  Sophomore   
12 Anthony Collica  Oklahoma State  Freshman   
14 Luke Vaith  Hofstra  Senior   
19 Edgar Bright  Pittsburgh  Freshman   
  Julian Feikert  Oklahoma State  Junior  6th 
  Ugi Khishingnyam*  The Citadel  Sophomore  2nd 

*Denotes All-American Honors

MIssouri's Drake Houdashelt and Penn State's James English in
last year's third place match at 149.

Minnesota junior Nick Dardanes highlights the list at 149.  He placed third at the Scuffle at 141 last season, but has moved up and is currently No. 1 in the nation.  He recently scored a 6-2 decision over Oklahoma State’s fourth-ranked junior Josh Kindig, who will also be competing at the Scuffle. Dardenas won the Bison Open and is 4-0 in dual matches.

“Another tough weight that continues to see a lot of changes this year,” is how Eslinger described the competition at 149.  “We have seen a trend where the guy who goes to the No. 1 spot gets knocked off soon after.  From round one to the finals, you are going to see great wrestling here on the first and second day.” 

Missouri junior Drake Houdashelt is No. 3 in the nation and the highest returning placer at 149.  He advanced to the quarterfinals in the main draw last season before placing fourth in the tournament.  He is 11-1 this season with his lone loss against Ohio’s 13th-ranked Tywan Claxton (Dec. 5-3).

Other top-10 competitors at 149 include Penn State’s seventh-ranked junior Andrew Alton, Cornell’s No. 9 senior Chris Villalonga and Oregon State’s No. 10 senior Scott Sakaguchi.  Villalonga has finished fifth in each of the last two Scuffles while Sakaguchi was an All-American in 2013. 

Penn State senior James English and sophomore Luke Frey return after placing third and seventh, respectively, in 2013.  Hofstra junior Cam Tessari, a 2012 All-American at Ohio State, joins No. 11 Gus Sako (Virginia – So.) and No. 20 Lenny Richardson (Old Dominion – So.) as other potential placers in the 149 bracket. 

“Nick Dardanes is one of many tough competitors, along with Drake Houdashelt,” said Eslinger.  “Tywan Claxton is just coming onto the scene and has some big wins this season and Gus Sako is tough as nails.  Add in All-American Scott Sakaguchi and Chris Villalonga, who just won at Vegas, and this is a very deep field.”

Ranked Wrestler at 149 (Intermat 12/10)

Rank Name School Year

2013 Scuffle Place
at 149

1 Nick Dardanes* Minnesota Junior  
3 Drake Houdashelt* Missouri Junior 4th
4 Josh Kindig Oklahoma State Junior  
7 Andrew Alton Penn State Junior  
9 Chris Villalonga Cornell Senior 5th
10 Scott Sakaguchi* Oregon State Senior  
11 Gus Sako Virginia Sophomore  
13 Tywan Claxton Ohio Junior  
20 Lenny Richardson Old Dominion Sophomore  
  James English Penn State Senior 3rd
  Luke Frey Penn State Sophomore 7th
  Cam Tessari* Hofstra Junior  

*Denotes All-American Honors

The Southern Scuffle, presented by Defense Soap and Flips Wrestling, takes place in the McKenzie Arena on Jan. 1-2, 2014.  Complete information on the 2014 Southern Scuffle - including hotels, live video, live stats participating teams and archived results – is available on www.TheSouthernScuffle.com.   

Tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).  New for this year is lower level reserved seating.  An all session lower level seat is $40 while a general admission ticket for both days is $30.

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