With less than a week to go before the opening whistle at the 2014 Southern Scuffle, presented by Defense Soap and Flips Wrestling, TheSouthernScuffle.com breaks down the 157 and 165 fields. This edition of the #LetsScuffle Preview shows that there are 11 of the top-20 wrestlers on tap for both brackets, according to the most recent Intermat College Rankings released on Dec. 24.
There are five top-10 competitors in the 157-pound bracket, beginning with Oklahoma State’s No. 2 sophomore Alex Dieringer. One of four All-Americans participating at 157, Dieringer finished third in last year’s Scuffle and is 10-0 this season.
His biggest competition may come from two-time NCAA Finalist, Minnesota junior Dylan Ness. Ness is currently No. 3 in the nation after moving up from 149. These two met in a dual match on Dec. 8 with Dieringer pulling out a dramatic 4-2 win in overtime.
Penn State’s Dylan Alton is currently No. 5 in the nation, but is not expected to see his first action of the season until the Wilkes Open on Dec. 28. Missouri senior Kyle Bradley (No. 6) and Kent State sophomore Ian Miller (No. 8) are two other top-10 competitors in the field. Alton is a returning All-American while Bradley has placed fourth in each of the last two Scuffles.
“I think this bracket is wide open,” stated Chattanooga head coach Heath Eslinger. “Alex Dieringer is having a great season and Dylan Ness is adjusting after moving up a weight. We have not seen Dylan Alton yet this season, but if he is ready to go, he is certainly a contender.”
|Oklahoma State's Alex Dieringer and Missouri's Kyle Bradley competed in last year's third place match.|
Senior All-American R.J. Pena of Oregon State highlights the rest of the ranked field. He is No. 13 in the nation and joined by Cornell freshman Brian Realbuto (No. 11), Virginia sophomore Blaise Butler (No. 12), Boston senior Nestor Taffur (No. 14), Air Force senior Josh Kreimer (No. 17), Old Dominion junior Tristan Warner (No. 18) and Ohio sophomore Spartak Chino (19).
Chino was sixth at last year’s tournament and is one of four other placers returning. 2013 Scuffle runner-up James Vollrath of Penn State could be a sleeper. Last year, he scored an upset win over Dieringer in the semifinals and barely lost to Virginia’s Jedd Moore, 3-1 in overtime, in the finals.
The Citadel sophomore Matt Frisch (8th) and Navy sophomore Robert Burry (7th) are the other two placers from a year ago.
Another sleeper could be Chattanooga senior Alex Hudson. Hudson will have the hometown crowd behind him when he puts his 16-3 overall record on the line. He finished third in the Reno Tournament of Champions and has a fourth place finish at the Navy Classic early in the year. Two of his three losses were narrow defeats against No. 9 Isaac Jordan of Wisconsin.
“We have high expectations for Alex heading into the Scuffle,” stated Eslinger. “He had a good tournament in Reno, but was not happy with his third place finish. He has been training hard and I think he is ready for a breakout event.”
Ranked Wrestlers at 157 (Intermat 12/24)
2013 Scuffle Place
|2||Alex Dieringer*||Sophomore||Oklahoma State||3|
|5||Dylan Alton*||Junior||Penn State|
|8||Ian Miller||Sophomore||Kent State|
|13||R.J. Pena*||Senior||Oregon State|
|17||Josh Kreimer||Senior||Air Force|
|18||Tristan Warner||Junior||Old Dominion|
|James Vollrath||Senior||Penn State||2|
|Matt Frisch||Sophomore||The Citadel||8|
*Denotes All-American Honors
Last season’s 165 tournament ended with an epic battle between Cornell’s Kyle Dake and Penn State’s David Taylor. Dake came away with 3-2 win in one of the most exciting and anticipated regular season matchups in recent memory.
Taylor is back as the top-ranked 165-pounder in the country and leads a stacked field. He will have to fend off No. 2 Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma State) and No. 3 Nick Sulzer (Virginia) to claim his third scuffle title.
“As loaded as the field is for 157, I think the action at 165 could be even better,” said Eslinger. “You have the top three guys in the nation, led by one of the best at any weight in David Taylor. This was an exciting bracket last year and I think it will be more of the same next week.”
Taylor won the Scuffle in 2010 at 157 and at 165 in 2012. He is a three-time NCAA Finalist and the National Champion at 165 in 2012. Caldwell is a three-time All-American and finished third at last year’s Scuffle. He lost to Taylor in the semifinals before defeating Sulzer in the third place match a year ago.
All totaled, this trio has a 33-0 record this season and make up three of the four All-Americans in the field. Iowa State junior Michael Moreno is the other All-American and ranked No. 6 heading into the Scuffle. Missouri senior Zach Toal is No. 9 in the country and has placed in each of the last two Scuffles.
One to watch in the tournament is another hometown product in Chattanooga’s Corey Mock. The junior transfer from North Carolina is 18-0 on the season and up to No. 7 in the national rankings. He has only allowed one takedown this season and has wins over four ranked opponents.
“I think Corey is wrestling as well as anybody in the country right now,” stated Eslinger. “He just won at Reno and will now have a chance to really test himself against the best in the country. He has beaten a number of ranked guys this year, but we are going to really see where he sits on the national scene at the Scuffle. It is going to be a challenge, but I think he is ready for it.”
Minnesota senior Danny Zilverberg leads three returners who placed last season. He is currently No. 18 in the nation and finished fifth a year ago. Ohio’s Harrison Hightower (8th) and Appalachian State’s Zach Strickland (6th) are the other two placers who are back.
Other ranked competitors at 165 include Cornell freshman Dylan Palacio (No. 16), Hofstra senior Joe Booth (No. 17), Stanford freshman Jim Wilson (No. 19) and Penn sophomore Casey Kent (No. 20).
Ranked Wrestlers at 165 (Intermat 12/24)
|Rank||Name||Year||Team||2013 Scuffle Place at 165|
|1||David Taylor***||Senior||Penn State||2|
|2||Tyler Caldwell**||Senior||Oklahoma State||3|
|6||Michael MorenoI||Junior||Iowa State|
|Zach Stricklan||Sophomore||Appalachian State||6|
*Denotes All-American Honors
Tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com for the 2014 Southern Scuffle, presented by Defense Soap and Flips Wrestling. Fans can also call the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627). New this season are lower level reserved seats, which are filling up fast. Be sure to get close to the action by purchasing your tickets now.
If you can’t make it to the Scuffle, be sure to follow all of the action on TheSouthernScuffle.com. Here you will find links for the Flowrestling live broadcast, as well as live scoring and updated brackets provided by Trackwrestling.com.
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #LetsScuffle when talking about the event on social media. Look for updates on the Chattanooga Strong twitter account @UTCWrestling.