Southern Scuffle – No.1 Penn State Comes to Town This Week

College Wrestling’s Premier Tournament - Jan. 1-2 at McKenzie Arena

Sunday, December 29, 2013 - by B.B. Branton

Collegiate wrestling’s current power is coming to town this week and in force.

The big, bad Nittany Lions of Penn State bring impressive credentials as they look to win their fifth straight Southern Scuffle title to be held Jan.1-2 at McKenzie Arena.

Scuffle Schedule:

Day 1 - Jan.1 - 9 a.m. – opening matches …

Noon – Round of 32 … 5:45 p.m. - round of 16

Day 2 - Jan.2 … 9 a.m. – quarterfinals … 1:30 p.m. – semifinals … 7 p.m. - finals

The three-time defending NCAA champion Lions from Happy Valley have two past NCAA champions among four undefeated wrestlers in the lineup and a coach (Cael Sanderson) who never lost a college match (159-0)and won a Olympic gold medal.

Describe them how you wish.

Alabama football and Kentucky basketball of college wrestling.

For baby boomers, they are the Boston Celtics, Green Bay Packers, Montreal Canadians and New York Yankees of old dressed in singlets.

They even have a wrestler named Ruth (NCAA champ) and a coach named Casey.

But much more than a one strong team event, the Scuffle showcases three of the top four teams in the nation – (1) Penn State, (2) Minnesota, (4) Oklahoma State – along with No.7 Cornell, No.12 Iowa State, No. 13 Missouri and No.17 Virginia among the 34 teams.

“Having four of the top seven teams and 10 of the top 25 in our city is comparable to (UTC men’s basketball coach) Will Wade bringing in Kentucky, Louisville, UConn, Arizona, Duke and Kansas for the Dr. Pepper Classic,” said UTC wrestling coach Heath Eslinger who led the way to bringing the Scuffle to Chattanooga three years ago. “This tournament is that strong.”

Coaching Who’s Who: Not only will many of the best wrestlers in the land be showcasing their talents on eight mats, but the Scuffle also brings in coaching greats, including John Smith (Oklahoma State) and Cael Sanderson (Penn State), J Robinson (Minnesota), Rob Koll (Cornell) and Kevin Jackson (Iowa State)

Sanderson (Penn State) … has led the Nittany Lion to three straight NCAA titles …. Four straight Southern Scuffle titles … 4-time NCAA champion at Iowa State with 159-0 record … 2004 Olympic freestyle gold medalist …

Smith (Okla State) has led the Cowboys to five NCAA titles … has won six world gold medals, including two Olympic gold medals …. 2x NCAA champion … first wrestler to win the James E. Sullivan award in 1990 as the nation’s most outstanding amateur athlete

Jackson (Iowa State) is no stranger to Chattanooga as he led the USA team to a World Cup title in 1995 in Maclellan Gym and trained here prior to winning a world gold medal in Atlanta in 1995 …FILA International and U.S. National Wrestling Halls of Fame

J Robinson (Minnesota) has led the Gophers to three NCAA titles and was a member of the 1972 Olympic greco-roman team and two world teams (placing fourth and fifth) … member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Koll (Cornell) has led Cornell to a pair of NCAA second place finishes (2010, 2011) … clinched a World Cup team title for USA with his victory against a Russian foe in Maclellan Gym in 1993 … placed fifth in the 1991 World Championships … 1988 NCAA champion for UNC

Team Highlights

No.1 Penn State – three-time NCAA champs … a pair of No.1 ranked wrestlers in David Taylor (165) and Ed Ruth (184)  - they are NCAA champs and undefeated this season … Ruth has “Ruthian” numbers, bringing an 80-match win streak to the Scuffle …

No.2 Minnesota – led by No.1 ranked Nick Dardanes (149), Scott Schiller (197) and Tony Nelson (285)

No.4 Oklahoma State … ranked wrestlers including No.3 Jon Morrison (133), No.4 Josh Kindig (149), No.2 Alex Dieringer (157), No.2 Tyler Caldwell (165), No.2 Chris Perry (174)


Contact B.B. Branton at


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