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Penn State leads Minnesota after day one of loaded Southern Scuffle

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The annual Southern Scuffle, in its short 10 years of existence, was already considered one of the toughest in-season tournaments.

Add Oklahoma State to the mix and tough just got tougher.

Reigning NCAA champion Penn State, winners of the 2012 Scuffle and a co-winner with Cornell in 2010, entered the two-day tournament on the campus of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga as the team to beat. And without the services of two starters, Cael Sanderson’s Nittany Lions still found a way to lead after the first of competition.

Penn State totaled 102 points and leads Minnesota by eight entering Sunday’s wrestling. The Cowboys enter Wednesday 4 ½ points behind the Gophers with Cornell and Missouri rounding out the top five in the 24-team field.

“These tournaments are a great indication of where you are right now and where you might be in March simply for the fact that if you do well here you do well at the end,” said Sanderson, whose squad pushed six into the semifinals. “We want to do well, but we are looking more for progress and attitude, wrestling for the team and looking for bonus points.

“Any time you have Penn State, Minnesota, Cornell, Missouri, and you add an Oklahoma State … (Wednesday) is going to be fun. I’m excited because there are going to be some good matches.”

As usual, PSU raced to the lead with bonus points. Nico Megaludis (125), James Vollrath (157), David Taylor (165), Matt Brown (174), Ed Ruth (184), and Quentin Wright (197) each had a least one bonus point victory in three rounds of wrestling on Tuesday.

The Gophers suffered a big loss at 125 pounds where second-seeded David Thorn went down to Air Force’s Josh Martinez in overtime in the quarterfinals.

But J Robinson’s well-balanced team still managed to put seven into the final four at each weight class. 2012 NCAA runner-up Dylan Ness, out injured the first part of the season, dodged a first-round bullet when he went to overtime to beat The Citadel’s Jordan Dix. Heavyweight Tony Nelson, the 2012 NCAA champion, needed a riding time point to beat Oklahoma State backup Tyson Yoder in the quarters.

Oklahoma State head coach John Smith got just what he wanted.

“That is the reason we are here, for the tough matches,” said Smith, whose club has six in the semifinals. “I’m not sure, since I’ve been coaching, that we’ve been to a tougher tournament during the season. There are going to be NCAA-type matches on Sunday.”

Smith’s group had a couple of near misses on Tuesday. Top-seeded 157-pounder Alex Dieringer scored an escape and takedown in the final five seconds to beat Boston’s Nestor Taffur, 6-4, in the quarters. But the Cowboys, making their first appearance in the event, lost a couple of nail-biters in the quarterfinals at 141 and 184 where Julian Fiekert lost in overtime and Chris Chionuma was cradled to his back in the third period of a 5-1 loss to Missouri’s Mike Larson.

OSU went 3-0 against Penn State in the quarters, including 2011 NCAA champion Jordan Oliver’s 12-6 decision of James English at 149 pounds.

As the coaches pointed out, Sunday’s action could produce an NCAA preview at a number of weight classes.

Another anticipated match with Cornell’s Kyle Dake and Taylor could be in the making. Dake, unbeaten since the 2011 EIWA Championships, had a pair of pins and a major decision on Tuesday. The senior 165-pounder faces Virginia’s Nick Sulzer in the semifinals. The other half of the bracket shows Taylor, who had two pins and technical fall on the first day, and Oklahoma State’s Tyler Caldwell, a two-time All-American. Dake beat Taylor at the NWCA All-Star Classic in November and picked up a win over Caldwell at the Grapple in the Garden.

At 184 pounds, Ruth, an NCAA champion in 2012 at 174, had three pins and a major decision. Steve Bosak, Cornell’s talented senior who won the NCAA 184-pound title a year ago, had a pin and two decisions. Bosak must first get by two-time All-American Kevin Steinhaus in Sunday’s semifinals for a chance at Ruth.

The big guys, with the top three wrestlers in the country in the bracket, have Nelson going against former Binghamton All-American Nick Gwiazdowski, now a redshirt at North Carolina State, and Oklahoma State’s high-flying Alan Gelogaev and Missouri’s Dom Bradley, third at the 2011 NCAAs, facing off Sunday. Gelogaev had to two pins in under 30 seconds on the first day.

The 125-pound bracket will feature Cornell freshman Nahshon Garrett and Megaludis, just a sophomore who lost in the NCAA finals in 2012.

The Big Red also pushed Mike Nevinger (141) and Chris Villalonga (149) to the semifinals.

Steve Garland’s Virginia Cavaliers had a strong day, scoring 70 ½ points. They sit in sixth entering Sunday. Matt Snyder (125), George DiCamillo (133), and Jedd Moore (157) each moved to the semifinals.

2013 marks the 10th Southern Scuffle, an event originally held on the campus of UNC-Greensboro. When the program at UNC-Greensboro was discontinued, the tournament moved to its current location in Chattanooga. This season’s field includes seven NCAA champions and 24 All-Americans.

Penn State is without the services of Andrew and Dylan Alton, both suspended after an off-the-mat issue last week. Missouri’s Alan Waters, one of the top-ranked 125-pounders in the country, is also absent this week.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and have partnered to bring extensive live coverage of the 2013 Southern Scuffle. For more information, visit:

at Chattanooga, Tenn.

Semifinal pairings

Nicholas Megaludis of Penn State vs. Nahshon Garrett of Cornell
Matt Snyder of Virginia vs. Josh Martinez of Air Force

Christopher Dardanes of Minnesota vs. George DiCamillo of Virginia
Nathan McCormick of Missouri vs. Jon Morrison of Oklahoma State

Michael Nevinger of Cornell vs. Nick Dardanes of Minnesota
Undrakhbayar Khishignyam of The Citadel vs. Chris Mecate of Old Dominion

Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State vs. Christopher Villalonga of Cornell
Dylan Ness of Minnesota vs. Cole VonOhlen of Air Force

Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State vs. James Vollrath of Penn State
Jedd Moore of Virginia vs. Kyle Bradley of Missouri

Kyle Dake of Cornell vs. Nick Sulzer of Virginia
David Taylor of Penn State vs. Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State

Chris Perry of Oklahoma State vs. Blake Stauffer of Arizona State
Logan Storley of Minnesota vs. Matt Brown of Penn State

Edward Ruth of Penn State vs. Mike Larson of Missouri
Steve Bosak of Cornell vs. Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota

Quentin Wright of Penn State vs. Scott Schiller of Minnesota
Jake Meredith of Arizona State vs. Phillip Wellington of Ohio

Anthony Nelson of Minnesota vs. Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State
Dominque Bradley of Missouri vs. Alan Gelogaev of Oklahoma State

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