Penn State Holds Lead Heading Into Quarterfinals of Southern Scuffle
With 10 wrestlers in the quarterfinals, No. 4 Penn State leads the 2015 Defense Soap & Flips Wrestling Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Nitnany Lions (52.0) have a four-point advantage over second place Nebraska (48.0) and a 4.5 lead Missouri (47.5).
Oklahoma State (47.0) and Pittsburgh (34.0) round out the top five, while the host-University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs are 11th with 25.5 points. Michigan (32.0), Cornell (30.0), Lehigh (29.5) and Army (25.5) are the bottom half of the top 10 after the first day of competition.
Each year, there is always at least one big upset on Day 1 of the Scuffle. That trend held true today when Nebraska’s Spencer Johnson pulled off a 5-3 decision over Iowa State’s No. 1-ranked Kyven Gadsen at 197.
“Upsets are what draw people to sports,” stated head coach Heath Eslinger. “If it was scripted, it would be boring. Matches like that make the event more exciting.”
The only other top-2 seeds who did not advanced were due to medical forfeits. Kent State’s Ian Miller, the second seed at 157, and Penn State’s second-seeded heavyweight Jimmy Lawson both withdrew.
The Mocs had a solid showing with two advancing to the Championship quarterfinals on Friday. Senior Sean Boyle is still alive at 125 while sophomore Jared Johnson is competing in the main draw at heavyweight.
Boyle, currently ranked No. 20 at 125, scored two wins to advance to the Friday’s Round of Eight. He opened with an 18-2 technical fall against Army’s Sean Badua. He followed that with a 7-3 decision against Virginia’s Will Mason.
“Great performance by Boyle today,” added Eslinger. “He is very consistent. He knows his wrestling and he sticks with it. He is going to force guys to beat him at his game.”
Boyle faces second-seeded and third ranked Alan Waters of Missouri at 9:00 a.m. in the morning. Boyle lost to Waters in a 4-2 decision at the 2013 NCAAs when he was still at Michigan.
Johnson continues his impressive run of late. He came into the meet on a three-match winning streak and won three more today to improve to 16-4 overall. He opened with a pin (2:25) against North Carolina’s Cory Gillilland-Daniel and followed that with a 6-2 decision over Northern Colorado’s Brian Macchione.
Johnson then rode out Virginia’s Collin Campbell in the third period for a 2-0 win in the Round of 16. He faces Missouri’s two-time NCAA qualifier Devin Mellon in the quarters.
“Jared has a lot of clarity in his wrestling right now,” said Eslinger. “And clarity is good. He continues to gain confidence as the season goes on.”
Today’s attendance was 2,805, the second highest opening number since the tournament moved to Chattanooga in 2012. “Great crowd again today,” stated Eslinger. “We want to continue to figure out ways to grow the event and make the crowds bigger.”
Doors open tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. with the quarterfinals beginning at 9:00 a.m. The championship semifinals are 1:30 p.m. and the medal matches are 7:00 p.m.