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Penn State wins Southern Scuffle, as finals provide possible previews of NCAAs in March

Kyle Dake of Cornell receives his championship award after winning the 165-pound title at the 2013 Southern Scuffle. Photo from

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Las Vegas might give decent odds that four of the 10 finals bouts at the 2013 Southern Scuffle will be repeated at the 2013 NCAA Championships in Des Moines this March.

165, 174, 184, and 285.

Those four bouts on Wednesday featured seven NCAA championships – Cornell’s Kyle Dake and Steve Bosak, Penn State’s David Taylor and Ed Ruth, and Minnesota’s Tony Nelson. They also include 13 All-America seasons between them.

Only one finals bout, 157 pounds, did not include a wrestler with at least one All-America medal.

A strong first session on the second day of wrestling – the Nittany Lions went 5-1 in the semifinals – gave the reigning NCAA champions a 17 ½ point lead entering Wednesday night’s finals.

Cael Sanderson’s group claimed the title by 20 ½ points, totaling 178 ½ by the end of competition. It was PSU’s third straight Scuffle title; in 2010 they shared the team trophy with Cornell.

But this week wasn’t necessarily about the team race. It was about massive individual matchups as the season hits high gear.

For starters, Dake and Taylor wrestled a classic at 165. The two NCAA champions wrestled a yawner at the NWCA All-Star Classic in November. This time around, although only five points were scored, it was scramble after scramble. Taylor, 75-1 in college entering the match, needed to escape in the final 30 seconds to force overtime, but Dake, who has not lost since the 2011 EIWA finals, was able to ride things out and avoid a late escape attempt by Taylor. The scoreboard showed 59 seconds of riding time for Taylor as the final whistle blew. The two traded reversals in the third and left fans ready for more.

“It was a good match, we had some great scrambles,” said Dake (16-0). “We wrestled tough. I had a lot of fun out there and I’m looking forward to the next one. We are both going to keep getting better.

“It was a fun week. I think everybody really enjoys this tournament.”

Taylor had little trouble with Oklahoma State’s Tyler Caldwell in the semifinals, picking up near fall points in the first period in a 10-0 win. Dake’s tournament included three pins and a major decision.

Right out of the gate in the 174-pound final, All-Americans Chris Perry and Logan Storley went at it. Storley scored quickly, but was promptly reversed. By the time three minutes had elapsed it was 5-5. The two traded escapes, but the difference was 1:47 or riding time for the top-ranked Cowboy in the end of a 7-6 victory.

It was Storley’s first loss in 14 matches this season. He pinned Penn State’s Matt Brown in the semifinals. Perry moved to 17-0.

Ruth and Bosak squared off in the 184-pound final. But, as has often been the case over the last two years, Ruth had too much firepower in a 7-3 victory.

Heavyweight proved to be a down-to-the-wire affair. After getting by Oklahoma State’s Alan Gelogaev in the semifinals, Bradley (22-4) went to overtime to beat Nelson, 2-1. Like Dake and Taylor, this one will be talked about for a while.

In the end, however, it was none of the above who earned Outstanding Wrestler honors. That piece of hardware went to Oklahoma State senior 149-pounder Jordan Oliver, who picked up his 100th career victory in a smashing of Air Force’s Cole VonOhlen in the finals. Oliver’s tournament included a pin, a technical fall in the semifinals, and a 21-8 major in the finals.

“It was great coming to this tournament,” said Oliver. “Knowing it was going to be great competition, and on top of that, knowing I was going for number 100 in the finals really motivated me. It is a great honor to be a part of that Oklahoma State tradition, to be one of those guys on that list of 100 wins.”

Oliver (17-0) won an NCAA title at 133 pounds two seasons ago and lost in the finals in 2012. Making the move up two weights, he hasn’t missed a beat.

“I felt great over the summer, especially training with Coleman Scott at the Olympics and those 66 kilo guys,” he added. “The guys are a little slower compared to 133 and the weigh-ins definitely are not the same.”

An anticipated match with 2011 NCAA runner-up Dylan Ness, for the second time this season, never materialized. Ness lost to VonOhlen in Wednesday morning’s semifinals; the two also could have met in the OSU-Minnesota dual on Dec. 2 in Minneapolis but the Gopher sophomore was out with an injury.

The Cowboys, second behind Penn State, 10 ½ points better than third place Missouri, also crowned Jon Morrison (15-2) at 133 pounds. The junior avenged two losses from earlier this season, beating Missouri’s Nathan McCormick in the semifinals and Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes in the finals; both matches required takedowns in the final 20 seconds.

Minnesota, in second place entering Wednesday, went 3-4 in semifinal matches, while the Nittany Lions won 5 of 6. One of the PSU wins came from James Vollrath – wrestling at 157 pounds in place of Dylan Alton. The PSU junior beat Cowboy freshman Alex Dieringer in the first set of tiebreakers, 2-1. It was Dieringer’s first loss in 15 matches this season.

Vollrath lost to Virginia’s Jedd Moore (21-4) in overtime in the finals. Moore qualified for the 2009 NCAA Championships.

Joining Ruth at the top of the medal stand for the current kings of college wrestling was Nico Megaludis (12-1), who beat Virginia’s Matt Snyder, 8-4, in the 125-pound final, and Wright, who flattened Arizona State’s Jake Meredith with a spladle to claim 197-pound gold.

“We are just trying to score a lot of points, that is what we do, push ourselves to get better,” said Wright (14-0). “This was an opportunity to see where we are at. We were super excited to be here. Everybody is going to get tough matches.

“You have to have some tricks up your sleeve. (Meredith) countered a throw in the first period. For us it’s about having a lot of tools in the shed.”

Cornell’s Mike Nevinger (24-6) used a third period takedown to beat The Citadel’s talented freshman Ugi Khishignyam, 3-2, for the title at 141 pounds. It was Khishignyam’s third loss in 27 matches this season.

What did we learn from the 2013 Southern Scuffle? That it might be time to change the name to the NCAA Preview.

Ohio State and Iowa square off in Iowa City in the coming days. The Hawkeyes then travel to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State on Jan. 13.

Let the fun begin as the nation’s top programs seek ways to stop the Penn State freight train.

at Chattanooga, Tenn., Jan. 1-2

1st - Nicholas Megaludis (Penn State) won by decision over Matt Snyder (Virginia) (Dec 8-4)
3rd - Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) won by major decision over Josh Martinez (Air Force) (Maj 17-5)
5th - Jerome Robinson (Old Dominion ) won by decision over Rob Deutsch (Old Dominion ) (Dec 4-2)
7th - Eric Montoya (Campbell ) won in sudden victory - 3 over David Terao (American) (SV-3 4-2)

1st - Jon Morrison (Oklahoma State) won by decision over Christopher Dardanes (Minnesota) (Dec 3-2)
3rd - Nathan McCormick (Missouri) won by pin over James Gulibon (Penn State) (Pin 4:44)
5th - George DiCamillo (Virginia) won by medical forfeit over Zach Watson (Virginia) (MFF)
7th - Mark Grey (Unattached) won by decision over Jordan Thome (Army) (Dec 2-0)

1st - Michael Nevinger (Cornell) won by decision over Undrakhbayar Khishignyam (The Citadel) (Dec 3-2)
3rd - Nick Dardanes (Minnesota) won by decision over Chris Mecate (Old Dominion ) (Dec 10-4)
5th - Connor Hanafee (Army) won by decision over Julian Feikert (Oklahoma State) (Dec 7-4)
7th - Dean Pavlou (Chattanooga) won by decision over Bryan Pearsall (Penn State) (Dec 4-2)

1st - Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State) won by major decision over Cole VonOhlen (Air Force) (Maj 21-8)
3rd - James English (Penn State) won by decision over Drake Houdashelt (Missouri) (Dec 5-2)
5th - Christopher Villalonga (Cornell) won by medical forfeit over Dylan Ness (Minnesota) (MFF)
7th - Luke Frey (Penn State) won by decision over Dustin Walraven (South Dakota State) (Dec 4-3)

1st - Jedd Moore (Virginia) won in sudden victory - 1 over James Vollrath (Penn State) (SV-1 3-1)
3rd - Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) won by decision over Kyle Bradley (Missouri) (Dec 3-2)
5th - Daniel Zilverberg (Minnesota) won by decision over Spartak Chino (Ohio ) (Dec 11-8)
7th - Robert Burg (Navy) won by decision over Matthew Frisch (The Citadel) (Dec 7-6)

1st - Kyle Dake (Cornell) won by decision over David Taylor (Penn State) (Dec 3-2)
3rd - Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma State) won by decision over Nick Sulzer (Virginia) (Dec 5-2)
5th - Zach Toal (Missouri) won by pin over Zachary Strickland (Appalachian State) (Pin 2:12)
7th - Cody Yohn (Minnesota) won by decision over Harrison Hightower (Ohio ) (Dec 5-2)

1st - Chris Perry (Oklahoma State) won by decision over Logan Storley (Minnesota) (Dec 7-6)
3rd - Mathew Brown (Penn State) won by decision over Jon Fausey (Virginia) (Dec 10-3)
5th - Todd Porter (Missouri) won by medical forfeit over Blake Stauffer (Arizona State) (MFF)
7th - Cody Walters (Ohio ) won by decision over Marshall Peppelman (Cornell) (Dec 4-1)

1st - Edward Ruth (Penn State) won by decision over Steve Bosak (Cornell) (Dec 7-3)
3rd - Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) won by decision over Mike Larson (Missouri) (Dec 7-3)
5th - Chris Chionuma (Oklahoma State) won by decision over Kevin Radford (Arizona State) (Dec 9-3)
7th - John Eblen (Missouri) won in sudden victory - 1 over Mason Bailey (Navy) (SV-1 6-3)

1st - Quentin Wright (Penn State) won by pin over Jake Meredith (Arizona State) (Pin 5:34)
3rd - Brent Haynes (Missouri) won by decision over Phillip Wellington (Ohio ) (Dec 4-3)
5th - Scott Schiller (Minnesota) won by decision over Conner Hartmann (Duke ) (Dec 8-3)
7th - Jace Bennett (Cornell ) won by decision over Joshua Mohr (Air Force) (Dec 9-3)

1st - Dominque Bradley (Missouri) won in tie breaker - 1 over Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) (TB-1 2-1)
3rd - Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State) won by medical forfeit over Alan Gelogaev (Oklahoma State) (MFF)
5th - Jeremy Johnson (Ohio ) won by medical forfeit over Andrew Delaney (The Citadel) (MFF)
7th - James Lawson (Penn State) won by pin over Levi Cooper (Arizona State) (Pin 6:11)

Team Standings
1. Penn State 178.5
2. Oklahoma State 158.0
3. Missouri 147.5
4. Minnesota 139.5
5. Cornell 136.0
6. Virginia 109.5
7. Ohio 64.5
8. Air Force 62.5
9. Arizona State 58.0
10. Army 48.0
11. The Citadel 45.0
12. Navy 42.0
13. Old Dominion 32.5
14. Chattanooga 31.5
15. American 25.5
16. Duke 23.5
17. Campbell 20.5
18. Appalachian State 18.5
19. South Dakota State 17.5
20. Cleveland State 15.5
21. North Carolina State 15.0
22. North Carolina 12.0
23. Northern Colorado 8.5
24. Boston U. 8.0

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