Happy Holidays, and Happy New Years Bulls Wrestling Fans!
John Stutzman and his group of grapplers will take to the mat for the first time in almost two and a half weeks when they head to Chattanooga, Tennessee to take part in the prestigious Southern Scuffle for the first time in program history. For those of you who don't know much about the tournament itself, the Southern Scuffle is an annual two-day tournament hosted by Tennessee-Chattanooga that regularly features the top teams and wrestlers throughout the nation. To give some perspective: 13 of the competing teams placed in the top 25 at the NCAA tournament last season, and 12 are currently ranked in InterMat's top 25, this group includes reigning champion Penn State, led by wrestling legend Cael Sanderson. Check out the full list of participants in the table below:
There are some familiar MAC foes in the lineup with wrestling affiliate Missouri, and perennial MAC foes Central Michigan and Kent State also making the trip to Tennessee. The compilation of team talent is outstanding and will make for a great two days of wrestling, so, lets take a weight-by-weight look and see how UB's wrestlers stack up against the competition.
For each weight, I'll put a table of wrestlers of note that you should keep an eye on (with their current national rank from InterMat Wrestling), along with UB's projected wrestler at that weight, and then do a little bit of analysis to see how they stack up.
|10||Jordan Conaway||Penn State|
|11||Eddie Kilmara||Oklahoma State|
|16||Trey Andrews||Northern Colorado|
|N/A||Nico Megaludis||Penn State (Unattached)|
UB senior Max Soria enters the tournament 15-1, and he's only seeded to finish 10th, and its not hard to see why; there's 4 All-Americans, including 2-time national finalist Nico Megaludis, last year's runner-up Nahshon Garrett of Cornell, and a good chunk of the national top-25 will be in action. One name that may look familiar is Tyler Cox of Wyoming who handed Soria his only defeat of the season in a thrilling 19-17 decision at the Northeast Duals, I'm sure Max would love some payback if the two meet head-to-head. Soria will be facing tough competition early, and will need to pull some upsets, but he has an excellent chance at being on the podium when all is said and done.
|5||Jjimmy Guilbon||Penn State|
|13||Earl Hall||Iowa State|
|15||Mack McGuire||Kent State|
Freshman sensation Sean Peacock will be entering the tournament with 13 wins, good for second on the team behind Soria's 15; but, as is the case with every weight class, he will be facing fierce competition including: 4 of the top 10 wrestlers in the nation, and last year's 5th place finisher Mason Beckman of Lehigh. It will be difficult for Peacock to get onto the podium but he has shown a lot of promise, especially in his recent match against nationally ranked Mack McGuire, so keep an eye on him for a potential upset.
|10||Zach Horan||Central Michigan|
|14||Joey Ward||North Carolina|
|17||Georgan Martinez||Boise State|
|19||Sam Speno||NC State|
141 Pounds features UB's Jason Estevez, another impressive freshman, will be in a bracket with 3 former All-Americans, and yet again, another large contingent from the national top-25. Like Peacock, keep an eye on Estevez, as he's been improving rapidly as of late and could use that momentum to pull an early upset.
|2||Josh Kindig||Oklahoma State|
|9||Dylan Cottrell||Appalachian State|
|13||Zack Beitz||Penn State|
|16||Gabe Moreno||Iowa State|
|19||Michael DePalma||Kent State|
Freshman Justin Cooksey will have a tough battle ahead of him if he wants to get on the podium at the end of the tournament, with 10 top-25 grapplers, including last year's NCAA runner up Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State in the bracket there one is going to be wild and exciting to watch.
|3||Ian Miller||Kent State|
|9||Dylan Alton||Penn State|
Oh boy, this one is going to be a doozy; 3 of the top-5 wrestlers in the nation including 4 All-Americans. Senior Wally Maziarz, who has battled his way back from an offseason injury, will have his hands full from the get-go, but the hard-working senior will be looking to make some noise in his first ever trip to the prestigious tournament.
|1||Alex Dieringer||Oklahoma State|
|5||Michael Moreno||Iowa State|
|17||Max Rohskopf||NC State|
Just like 157 pounds, 165 pounds is very top heavy with 3 All-Americans in the field, including last year's NCAA Champion at 157 pounds Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State. Rrok Ndokaj is a transplant from Bloomsburg who followed Stutzman to Buffalo and has been wrestling solid all season long, because the bracket is relatively top heavy, Ndokaj has a shot at a spot on the podium if he keeps up his style of wrestling.
|4||Matt Brown||Penn State|
|7||Tanner Weatherman||Iowa State|
|15||Pete Renda||NC State|
|17||Caleb Marsh||Kent State|
|18||Kyle Krutchmer||Oklahoma State|
Another brutal bracket featuring former NCAA finalist Matt Brown, and 5 total All-Americans, 174 will be a grueling weight to see who comes out on top. Muhamid McBryde has wrestled well in spurts over the course of the season, but will need to bring his A game to really compete in one of the most brutal weights in an already brutal tournament.
|17||Lelund Weatherspoon||Iowa State|
184 is a bracket highlighted by 2014 Southern Scuffle, and NCAA 3rd place finisher Gabe Dean, who, as a true freshman shocked the world and upset senior Ed Ruth of Penn State who had an 84 match win streak, in the 2014 Scuffle finals, anything can happen in wrestling, folks. As for Tony Lock, he is a fine wrestler who has battled through a few injuries, but if he comes into the tournament at 100% he could make some noise, he faced Dean in the finals of last season's New York State Collegiate Wrestling Championships, and would have this year as well, if not for an untimely injury.
|1||Kyven Gadsen||Iowa State|
|4||Morgan McIntosh||Penn State|
This should be another fun weight class to watch, with last year's National Champion J'Den Cox, and his rival Kyven Gadsen both in the bracket, it should make for an exciting head-to-head matchup if the two meet. UB's Joe Ariola has been wrestling well this season, but has a hit a rough patch lately, and hopefully he has gotten over it and will come to the tournament with a fresh head because the competition will be fierce with 10 of the top 20 ranked wrestlers in competition.
|2||Nick Gwiazdowski||NC State|
|4||Austin Marsden||Oklahoma State|
|6||Jimmy Lawson||Penn State|
|19||Riley Shaw||Cleveland State|
|N/A||Mike Silvis/Ian James||Buffalo|
Compared to the rest of the brackets the heavyweight bracket is one of the thinnest, featuring reigning national champion Nick Gwiazdowski and only one other All-American. For UB, heavyweight has been the most inconsistent weight class with neither Mike Silvis or Ian James really taking the reigns and locking down the starting spot. It will still be a tough go for whoever does wrestle there's plenty of ranked wrestlers in the field, and wins won't be easy.
Give coach Stutzman credit where credit is due for getting the Southern Scuffle on the schedule for the first time in UB history, outside of the NCAA Championships you won't find a tournament with such a collection of wrestling talent, and it will be a joy to watch. With that said, it will be extremely difficult for UB wrestlers to stand on the podium when the tournament is finished because of the strength of the competition, but as Gabe Dean showed us last year, anything can happen, that's why they wrestle the matches. This one is going to be fun, folks.
To check out the preseeds for each of the weight classes click HERE
Wrestling is set to begin at 9:00 AM on New Year's Day and will continue through January 2nd. Stay tuned to Bull Run for updates regarding all UB Wrestlers in competition.
Live Video and Live Scoring of the tournament can be found at the official tournament website TheSouthernScuffle.com