Penn State Rolls To Another Southern Scuffle Title

Nittany Lions Claim Seventh Title In Eight Years With Six Champs

Tuesday, January 2, 2018 - by John Hunt

The best team won again at one of the toughest and most competitive college wrestling tournaments in the country at Chattanooga’s McKenzie Arena Tuesday night.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are the NCAA defending champions who had won the Southern Scuffle six years in a row before missing last year’s event due to a scheduling conflict.

They came back this year and continued their dominating ways as they finished with 197 points and six individual champions.

Northern Iowa was a distant second with 127 points while Lehigh was third with 102.  Navy and Duke completed the top five teams with 87 and 80 points, respectively.

The Chattanooga Mocs finished 11th in the 24-team tournament with 51 points behind a third-place finish from 184-pound Bryce Carr, a fifth from Scottie Boykin at 197 and an eighth from 149-pound Roman Boylen.

The Nittany Lions look like the team to beat in mid March when the NCAA tournament will be held in Cleveland, Ohio.

They advanced seven to Tuesday night’s championship finals and got wins from six.  They also had a third, one fourth and a seventh.

Individual winners for Penn State included Bo Nickal at 184, Shakur Rasheed at 197, Zain Retherford at 149, Jason Nolf at 157, Vincenzo Joseph at 165 and Mark Hall at 174.  Nick Lee finished second at 141.

Penn State coach Cael Sanderson knows just a little bit about winning.  After all, he is one of the greatest amateur wrestlers in the history of the sport after going undefeated his entire college career while winning four straight NCAA titles. 

He’s also a former Olympic champ and was also a world champ along the way.

He may be the lowest-key guy in the tournament as he never raises his voice during a match while just sitting in his corner watching his guys do what they’ve learned so well in the practice room.

Winning this tournament for the seventh time in the past eight years may have been a big deal to a lot of coaches, but it was just another day at the office for Sanderson and his Nittany Lions.

“This is a great tournament and there’s always outstanding competition here and that’s why we come every chance we get,” he said following a brief chat with his team after the final match had concluded.

“There are always some tough matches here and we like to be put in situations like that, but we just have to keep working.  It’s hard to tell what we’ll do later, but I guess we’ll find out when the time comes,” he added in a very nonchalant tone.

Tueday’s final round began at 184 pounds and that’s where Nickal posted a 10-2 major decision to get the ball rolling for his team.

Rasheed got the first of four pins in the finals when he claimed the 197-pound title in just 46 seconds.  Retherford and Nolf also had pins while Joseph had a major decision at 165 before Hall closed out the action with a regular decision at 174.

No other team had more than one champion, but the remaining winners included Duke’s Jacob Kasper at 285, Lehigh’s Darian Cruz at 125, Virginia’s Jack Mueller at 133 and Oklahoma State’s Kaden Gfeller at 141.

Nolf earned the Most Pins in the least amount of time as he had four in 10 minutes, 51 seconds.

Rasheed earned the Outstanding Wrestler award after he won the 197-pound class as an unseeded entry.

Chattanooga coach Heath Eslinger was pretty upbeat by how his Mocs performed.

“I thought our entire team had a good performance and our two big guys did well,” he said in reference to Boykin and Carr.

“Roman Boylen lost a tough 2-1 decision to finish eighth at 149, but he may have had our best performance as it’s a big deal to medal in this tournament.  We’ve been having trouble finding someone to fill that weight and he’s proving that he wants to be the guy.

“We left some points out there, but this is one of those tournaments where you have to wrestle great to do well.  It’s more than just doing good, but we’ll keep working and see what we can do,” the veteran UTC coach added.

Oklahoma State was the defending champion in the tournament, but the Cowboys were just average at best after finishing 17th with 27 points.

FINAL TEAM SCORES: 1. Penn State 197; 2. Northern Iowa 127; 3. Lehigh 102; 4. Navy 87; 5. Duke 80; 6. Drexel 77.5; 7. Virginia 71; 8. Cal State-Bakersfield 69; 9. Stanford 68; 10. Lock Haven 64.5; 11. Chattanooga 51; 12. Appalachian St. and Northern Colorado tied with 46; 14. N.C. State 34.5; 15. Air Force 32; 16. Campbell 29.5; 17. Oklahoma St. 27; 18. Hofstra 26; 19. Cleveland St. 20; 20. Gardner Webb and George Mason tied with 9.5; 22. North Carolina 9; 23. Citadel 8; 24. Virginia Tech 3.5.


184 – Bo Nickal (Penn St) major dec. Drew Foster (N. Iowa), 10-2;

197 – Shakur Rasheed (Penn St.) pinned Jacob Holschlag (N. Iowa), :46;

285 – Jacob Kasper (Duke) dec. Michael Boykin (N.C. State), 5-1 in overtime;

125 – Darian Cruz (Lehigh) dec. Jay Schwarm (N. Iowa), 11-4;

133 – Jack Mueller (Virginia) major dec. Gary Wayne Harding (Oklahoma St), 10-0;

141 – Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma St.) pinned Nick Lee (Penn St.), 4:50;

149 – Zain Retherford (Penn St) pinned Josh Heil (Campbell), 4:39;

157 – Jason Nolf (Penn St) pinned Mitch Finesilver (Duke), :51;

165 – Vincenzo Joseph (Penn St) major dec. Bryce Steiert (N. Iowa), 8-0;

174 – Mark Hall (Penn St) dec. Jordan Kutler (Lehigh), 4-0.


184 – Bryce Carr (Chattanooga) dec. Nick Reenan (N.C. State), 4-3;

197 – Anthony Cassar (Penn St) dec. Stephen Luiseau (Drexel), 4-1;

285 – Nathan Butler (Stanford) dec. Nick Nevills (Penn St), 2-0;

125 – Louie Hayes (Virginia) won by technical fall over Korbin Meink (Campbell), 7:00;

133 – Colby Smith (Unattached) dec. Rico Montoya (N. Colorado), 8-4;

141 – Josh Alber (N. Iowa) won by technical fall over Kyle Shoop (Lock Haven), 6:03;

149 – Jared Prince (Navy) dec. Sam Krivus (Virginia), 5-2;

157 – Paul Fox (Stanford) won by medical forfeit over Coleman Hammond (Cal St-Bakersfield);

165 – Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven) dec. Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech), 6-4;

174 – Taylor Lujan (N. Iowa) pinned Forest Przybysz (Appalachian St), 2:42.


184 – Michael Coleman (Navy) pinned Alan Clothier (Appalachian St), 6:35;

197 – Scottie Boykin (Chattanooga) dec. Matt Williams (Cal St.-Bakersfield), 8-6;

285 – Mike Hughes (Hofstra) won by medical forfeit over Thomas Haines (Lock Haven);

125 – Anthony DeCesare (Air Force) dec. Sergio Mendez (Cal St.-Bakersfield), 9-4;

133 – Jamel Morris (N.C. State) won by medical forfeit over Austin DeSanto (Drexel);

141 – Nic Gil (Navy) won by medical forfeit over Luke Karam (Lehigh);

149 -- Max Thomsen (N. Iowa) pinned Trevor Elfvin (Drexel), 2:04;

157 – Garrett Hammond (Drexel) dec. Zack Davis (Navy), 20-14;

165 – Gordon Wolf (Lehigh) pinned Ebed Jarrell (Drexel), 1:37;

174 – Keaton Subjeck (Stanford) won by medical forfeit over Jadaen Bernstein (Navy).


184 – Gary Jantzer (Unattached) dec. Stan Smeltzer (Virginia Tech), 6-2;

197 – Luke Farinaro (Duke) won by medical forfeit over Jake Jakobsen (Lehigh);

285 – Joey Goodhart (Drexel) won by medical forfeit over Jordan Wood (Lehigh);

125 – Gabe Townsell (Stanford) dec. Ibrahim Bunduka (George Mason), 3-2;

133 – Sean Nickell (Cal St.-Bakersfield) def. Isaac Jimenez (Air Force), :03;

141 – Even Cheek (Cleveland St) major dec. Russell Rohlfing (Cal St.-Bakersfield), 10-1;

149 – Jarod Verkleeren (Penn St) dec. Roman Boylen (Chattanooga), 2-1;

157 – Ian Brown (Lehigh) pinned Laken Cook (Appalachian St), 2:16;

165 – Keilan Torres (N. Colorado) dec. Drew Longo (Lehigh), 9-7;

174 – Austin Rose (Drexel) won by medical forfeit over Matt Finesilver (Duke).

(email John Hunt at 


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