photo courtesy of Cam Kramer
It’s a new year, but the same old story with Penn State on top of the leaderboard at the Southern Scuffle by ten points over Oklahoma State after one day of action. 11 Nittany Lion grapplers have advanced to the semifinals, compared to seven OSU Cowboys. Nine of the Penn State starters entered the tournament undefeated, and they still have their perfect records intact. Looking down the team scores it is not surprising that Iowa State is in third place, but it may raise some eyebrows that Lock Haven has tied them with 60 points. Another team that has unexpectedly crashed the top-five is Navy who has 47.5 points, though only one wrestler is in the championship round. Here are some of the observations after one day of action at the Scuffle.
Clarity for Oklahoma State’s Lineup
Last week after the Reno Tournament of Champions we mentioned that there were a lot of decisions that needed to be made regarding the Oklahoma State lineup. The entries at the Southern Scuffle seem to shed some light on the subject, at least in the 174/184 lb range. Joseph Smith is at 174 lbs while Jacobe Smith is at 184. It seemed as if Jacobe, the bigger, stronger of the two would be able to handle 184 pounds better than Joseph. If not sure if any of the results from the Scuffle will influence these weight classes decisions further or if it’s a done deal to move Jacobe up to 184 permanently, but Jacobe did drop his quarterfinal match to Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech) who is currently redshirting for the Hokies. Bolen has had a strong season thus far, so it’s not a terrible loss, but if the Cowboys has any hopes of catching Penn State at nationals, they will need Jacobe to be a high placer at 184 lbs. We still are awaiting the return of All-American Boo Lewallen, so that may present more problems at 149, as Kaden Gfeller is still undefeated and in the Scuffle semis.
Cardinal Colored Glasses
Simply put, Stanford’s freshmen are outstanding. Head coach Jason Borrelli has a pair of true freshmen that are currently wrestling unattached but have been very impressive. Real Woods is now in the semis at 141 lbs after racking up a couple of major decisions and then moved on after a medical forfeit from Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State). Woods already has an open tournament title under his belt, after winning the season-opening Princeton Open. He will face a formidable test in the semifinals against 20th ranked Nic Gil (Navy). 165 lber Shane Griffith showed more in his loss to two-time NCAA Champion Vincenzo Joseph, than he did in either of his two major decisions before that quarterfinal bout. Griffith did not back down at all from Joseph and even got a takedown during the 6-4 defeat. In tomorrow’s consolation round of 12, Griffith will take on fellow true freshman Colt Yinger (Ohio) for a spot in the top eight. The plan has been to redshirt both of these talented freshmen, though a great finish to the Scuffle could influence Borrelli to pull one or both of their shirts.
What’s Up with RBY?
Though he has not vaulted up the rankings quite yet, Penn State’s true freshman Roman Bravo-Young has passed the “eyeball test” and has looked the pair of an All-American contender through December. Admittedly he has not faced any ranked 133 lbers thus far. Today he had to fight and claw just to make it into the semis. Dalton Young (Stanford) in the opening round gave Roman all he could handle and a duck under in the third period was the difference in their 4-3 match. Next was Nick Farro (Lehigh), who took Bravo-Young into the third period in a tie match, though the Nittany Lion did have riding time on his side. It was more of the same in the quarters where Collin Gerardi (Virginia Tech) rode RBY for the entire third period to erase riding time and force sudden victory, where Roman did prevail 8-6. There appears to be something off about the freshman, be it injury, a bad weight cut, or illness, but while he has shown flashes of his explosiveness, it has not translated for a full seven minutes again three unranked wrestlers. He will face his stiffest test of the year in the semis against the wrestler we will discuss next…
Austin Gomez Has Earned “Must Watch” Status
If you watch enough wrestling you’ll find some wrestlers that are difficult to watch and appreciate because of their lack of activity or aggressiveness, even if they are successful. Austin Gomez (Iowa State) is not one of those wrestlers. Before action started this morning, Gomez’s last tweet was “Scared money don’t make money.” It was very fitting for Gomez. The Cyclone (a perfect mascot for this ball of motion and energy) does not seem to get scared or phased by anything out on the mat. A good example of this was a month ago in a hostile Carver-Hawkeye Arena, when he needed a fall against then-undefeated Austin DeSanto, Gomez left it all on the line and went for broke tossing DeSanto to his back and was inches away from earning a fall, though he did get the come-from-behind win. It happened again today in the Round of 16 against Ty Smith (Drexel) who jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first period, followed by a Smith escape to start the second. Gomez proceeded to chip away at the lead and got seven unanswered takedowns over the final two periods to get a 16-15 win. Austin’s 3-0 day has earned him a spot in the semis where he will meet fellow high-powered freshman Roman Bravo-Young.
125 – Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State) vs. Luke Werner (Lock Haven)
125 – Alex Mackall (Iowa State) vs. Rico Montoya (Northern Colorado)
133 – Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) vs. Sean Nickell (CSU Bakersfield)
133 – Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) vs. Austin Gomez (Iowa State)
141 – Nick Lee (Penn State) vs. Kyle Shoop (Lock Haven)
141 – Nic Gil (Navy) vs. Real Woods (Stanford)
149 – Mitch Finesilver (Duke) vs. Brady Berge (Penn State)
149 – Russell Rohlfing (CSU Bakersfield) vs. Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State)
157 – Jason Nolf (Penn State) vs. Dom Mandarino (Stanford)
157 – Bo Pipher (Penn State) vs. Zac Carson (Ohio)
165 – Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) vs. Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider)
165 – Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State) vs. Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven)
174 – Mark Hall (Penn State) vs. Matt Finesilver (Duke)
174 – Joseph Smith (Oklahoma State) vs. David McFadden (Virginia Tech)
184 – Shakur Rasheed (Penn State) vs. Sammy Colbray (Iowa State)
184 – Louie DePrez (Binghamton) vs. Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech)
197 – Bo Nickal (Penn State) vs. Tom Sleigh (Virginia Tech)
197 – Nathan Traxler (Stanford) vs. Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State)
285 – Anthony Cassar (Penn State) vs. Matt Voss (George Mason)
285 – Derek White (Oklahoma State) vs. Nick Nevills (Penn State)