No. 1 Penn State won another Southern Scuffle title, and staved off a strong challenge from No. 6 Oklahoma State en route. The Nittany Lions have now won eight straight Scuffle championships, and continue to dominate one of the nation's premier wrestling tournaments. Cael Sanderson's team had eight wrestlers in the finals, including two at 157 pounds with No. 1 Jason Nolf and Bo Pipher.
The Southern Scuffle was particularly noteworthy for a couple of Penn State seniors. Bo Nickal secured his 100th career win in his quarterfinal match against Josh Roetman (Navy). Nolf became the all-time pin leader in Penn State history after he picked up his 54th fall in the semifinals against Dominick Mandarino (Stanford). These two are all-time greats in school history, and it is great to see them achieve such big milestones.
The final team standings for the event:
- Penn State - 216.5
- Oklahoma State - 188.5
- Iowa State - 104
Penn State's 216.5 team points are the most in Southern Scuffle history. They did it not only through a barrage of bonus points, but they also won six of 10 individual titles and had eight finalists. The Nittany Lions dominated in Chattanooga, and a very strong Oklahoma State performance was not enough to overcome Penn State.
Vincenzo Joseph picked up the biggest win of the finals for Penn State. He defeated No. 3 Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven) 6-5 in the match of the tournament that had a ton of action, and was tight late. Marsteller wrestled great though, and he looks like he's going to be a tough matchup for Joseph whenever these two see each other again. Joseph had a great tournament and won two matches by fall. Mason Manville finished in 7th, with a close loss to Marsteller in the quarterfinals. He certainly looks like he has a good chance to be an asset for Sanderson.
Mark Hall picked up his third career Southern Scuffle title, but came up against a very tough Joe Smith (Oklahoma State) in the final. Hall ended up winning 5-1, but it took a late re-attack from a Smith shot that ended up putting Smith on his back for two nearfall points. Hall looked great and his defense as sound as ever, but Joe Smith is going to be one to watch for the rest of the season, and may very well earn the No. 3 seed at NCAAs.
Jason Nolf and Bo Pipher wrestled an all-Penn State final. Nolf won in dominating fashion with a 16-1 tech fall over Pipher. Nolf was as suffocating as ever this tournament, as he won all his matches by bonus. Pipher had a great run, and by far the best tournament of his Penn State career. His semifinal match against Zach Carson (Ohio) was one of the best of the tournament, and he had a 16-0 win over No. 14 Dan Reed (Columbia).
Shakur Rasheed picked up his second straight Scuffle championship, and he beat Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech) in the final. Rasheed didn't have his best performance in the final as Bolen wrestled a very conservative match, but he dazzled in Chattanooga with four bonus point wins and a crossface cradle to boot.
Anthony Cassar finished second after a loss to No. 3 Derek White (Oklahoma State). Cassar looked good for the whole tournament, but White seemed to be the sharper of the two in the night session. Cassar was very relaxed, although he was almost too relaxed considering he needed a takedown and could not get it. Cassar still looks terrific at 285 pounds, and he can improve from here to reverse this result in March. Nick Nevills took 3rd and wrestled a very solid tournament. He once again was able to showcase his top ability.
Nick Lee won the Southern Scuffle at 141 pounds in a pretty emphatic display over the two days. His toughest test came against Real Woods (Stanford), but an injury withdrawal from No. 5 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) softened the field quite a bit and Lee was never really in much danger to his title. He won his five other matches by bonus including one fall.
Roman Bravo-Young had a very up and down Southern Scuffle. He really struggled to get his offense going on day one, and his biggest margin of victory was 4-1. However, he started his semifinal against No. 10 Austin Gomez (Iowa State) in very strong fashion, and had an 8-2 lead going into the 2nd period. It really looked like the Bravo-Young we had seen all season, but Gomez was able to throw Bravo-Young to his back for the fall. Bravo-Young placed 3rd, and despite the loss he's going to be an All-American contender at 133 pounds.
Brady Berge finished in third with a solid performance throughout the two-day tournament. His lone loss was to No. 6 Mitch Finesilver (Duke) in the semifinals in a very tight match. Berge is still not putting out a ton of offense, but he has been very opportunistic late in quite a few matches this season. We'll see how sustainable that can be all season. Jarod Verkleeren went 2-2 and did not place in the event. Verkleeren was up late in the Round of 12, but ended up giving up a takedown late and was pinned. These two have been close this season, and Verkleeren losing the way he did could really hurt his chances at starting this season.
Brody Teske went 2-1 before a loss in the quarterfinals to Lock Haven's Luke Werner. Teske had some close wins leading up to this match, but really struggled on bottom against Werner in a 15-0 technical fall loss. Teske's future is still bright, but any expectations of how much he could help the team this season should probably be tempered a bit. Teske forfeited out of the tournament after losing to Werner. Devin Schnupp went 1-2 in the tournament. Gavin Teasdale did not wrestle, and there has not been any indication as to the reason he was withdrawn from the tournament before it started.