Oklahoma State takes big Southern Scuffle lead over Missouri with 10 Cowboy semifinalists

By Roger Moore, Special to TheMat.com | Jan. 01, 2017, 10:36 p.m. (ET)
Dean Heil of Oklahoma State Tommy Thorn of Minnesota in the 141-pounds quarterfinals at the Southern Scuffle. Photo by Mark Lundy, LutteLens

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Through one session it appeared like there might be a team race at the 14th Southern Scuffle. But top-ranked Oklahoma State took complete control of things when they pushed 10 into Monday’s semifinals. The Cowboys, with 116 points, lead Missouri (70 ½), Lehigh (69 ½), Northern Iowa (68 ½) and Minnesota (68) after one grueling day of wrestling inside McKenzie Arena.

“We had to grind through a lot of matches today,” said Oklahoma State head coach John Smith, whose squad seeks a first Scuffle title in five trips to Chattanooga. “Maybe some of my guys weren’t prepared for some of those matches; they maybe thought it was going to be a little easier than it was. It’s nice to grind through matches and get your hand raised. There is something good about that.

“It’s always good to get your hand raised in tough tournaments. I thought Nick (Piccininni) had a big win; Anthony (Collica) was good all day. Preston Weigel had to change tactics in the middle of a match to win. You have to like what (Austin) Schafer did today, wrestling open and not like a heavyweight but putting points on the board.”

Cowboy starters went 20-0 in the marathon opening session and had 14 total in the quarterfinals. All 10 starters moved into the final four, including Piccininni, who used an early turn to beat Missouri’s Barlow McGhee in a 125-pound quarterfinal; national champion Dean Heil, who won two nail-biters at 141 pounds; Joe Smith, like Heil, who won a pair of close matches; All-American Kyle Crutchmer, who went to overtime to beat Navy’s Jadaen Bernstein in the 174-pound quarterfinals; and Weigel, who used two third-period turns to advance to the semifinals at 197 pounds. Kaid Brock (133), Anthony Collica (149), Chandler Rogers (165), Nolan Boyd (184), and Schafer (285) will all wrestle in the semifinals.

“I think overall, it’s a long day and we got in a lot of tough matches,” Smith said. “This tournament allows you to get tough matches and (Monday) the matches will be tougher.”

Despite losing All-Americans Randy Cruz and Mitch Minotti earlier than expected, the Mountain Hawks, with seven in the quarterfinals, trailed Oklahoma State by ½ point after the first session. LU pushed four into the semifinals with Missouri, Northern Iowa, and Minnesota.

As always, the first day included plenty of surprise results.

Stanford freshman Gabe Townsell, a native of Illinois, took out top-seeded Dylan Peters of Northern Iowa in the second round at 125 pounds. Townsell followed that up with a last-second takedown to beat Campbell’s Nathan Kraisser in the quarterfinals and joins the five, six, and seven seeds in the semifinals.

Piccininni, the sixth seed, will face Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak, a winner over Lehigh’s Darian Cruz in the quarterfinals. Townsell faces Virginia’s Jack Mueller.

“I really wanted to start the second half of the season, so whatever weight it happened didn’t matter,” Townsell said. “Once Connor (Schram) decided to go up (to 133) I knew the 125 spot was mine. I’m really not focused about what people are thinking, about noticing me. I’m just trying to do everything I can on the mat and in the room to be my best.

“I guess (the last second takedowns) is a strategy; something I started with my dad. I knew I had taken some starch out of (Kraisser) and the last 30 seconds I felt like I could get that takedown.”

The takedown came at the buzzer.

Northern Iowa’s Tyler Willers, a senior with a 6-5 record entering the tournament, dispatched fourth-seeded Randy Cruz of Lehigh in the first round at 141 pounds. The same bracket in the same round saw Willers’ teammate, Jake Hodges, beat sixth-seeded Matt Manley of Missouri. Cruz’s teammate, Minotti, fell to North Carolina State’s Chad Pyke in the round of 16.

Another surprise, if a Junior World champion in freestyle rolling through a bracket can be a surprise, came from Penn State freshman Mark Hall, who had a pin, majored Oklahoma State’s Jordan Rogers, and took out top-seeded Casey Kent of Penn in Sunday night’s quarterfinals. Hall will face Lehigh’s Ryan Preisch in the semifinals with Crutchmer meeting North Carolina’s Ethan Ramos in the other half.

Missouri pushed into second on the strength of pins by Lavion Mayes (149) and Daniel Lewis (165), and a dominating quarterfinal win by Olympic bronze medalist J’Den Cox (197).

The 141-pound bracket was as good as advertised.

Heil, the top seed, needed all his defensive skill to beat North Carolina’s AC Headlee, 3-2, in the round of 16. A few hours later, the NCAA champion beat Minnesota’s Tommy Thorn thanks to a riding time point. The bottom half saw Stanford’s Joey McKenna cruise and North Carolina’s Joey Ward win a wild 8-6 match with Heil’s backup, Tristan Moran, one of three Cowboys in the 141-pound quarterfinals. Heil faces Virginia’s George DiCamillo on Monday with Ward and McKenna squaring off.

Pre-tournament word had Cornell All-American Dylan Palacio in the 157-pound field. But the senior did not suit up and still has not seen the mat this season. The Big Red also kept 174-pounder Brian Realbuto at home. Both are expected back in the lineup with Cornell faces Drexel and Missouri on Jan. 13 and 14, respectively.

Big Red senior Gabe Dean showed up as usual and rolled through two opponents. The two-time NCAA champion at 184 pounds will, with two wins on Monday, could become just the third four-time Scuffle champion with Kyle Dake and Minnesota big man Cole Konrad.

Northern Iowa is in Chattanooga for the first time and head coach Doug Schwab expects to be back.

“We get so see different competition here,” Schwab said. “And it’s all against Division I guys. There are very few easy matches and the tournament is run very well. We don’t get to see Oklahoma State and Penn State is usually here.

“I think it’s the closest to the national tournament you can see. I know there’s Midlands and Vegas, but this really is a great tournament. I’ll see how much I like it after tomorrow.”

UNI’s Josh Alber (133), Max Thomsen (149), Bryce Steiert (165), and Drew Foster (184) are in the semifinals.

The day ended with possibly the best match, a 285-pound throwfest between Duke’s Jacob Kasper and Appalachian State’s Denzel Dejournette. A Kasper toss made it 6-0. Dejournette battled back with a body lock with back points to tie things at 6-6 – after three minutes. Things calmed down somewhat and Kasper finished off a 9-7 win.

At Chattanooga, Tenn.

Semifinals pairings

unseeded Gabe Townsell (Stanford) vs. No. 5 Jack Mueller (Virginia)
No. 2 Darion Cruz (Lehigh) vs. No. 6 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State)

No. 1 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 5 Mitchell Mckee (Minnesota)
No. 2 Scott Parker (Lehigh) vs. No. 6 Josh Alber (Northern Iowa)

No. 1 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 5 George Dicamillo (Virginia)
No. 2 Joey McKenna (Stanford) vs. No. 3 Joey Ward (North Carolina)

No. 1 Lavion Mayes (Missouri) vs. No. 5 Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa)
No. 2 Anthony Collica (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 3 Patricio Lugo (Edinboro)

No. 1 Joe Smith (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 5 Andrew Atkinson (Virginia)
No. 2 Joey Lavallee (Missouri) vs. No. 3 Jordan Kutler (Lehigh)

No. 1 Daniel Lewis (Missouri) vs. No. 5 Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa)
No. 3 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State) vs. unseeded Keilan Torres (Northern Colorado

unseeded Mark Hall (Penn State) vs. No. 5 Ryan Preisch (Lehigh)
No. 2 Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 3 Ethan Ramos (North Carolina)

No. 1 Gabe Dean (Cornell) vs. No. 5 Hunter Gamble (Gardner Webb)
No. 2 Nolan Boyd (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 3 Drew Foster (Northern Iowa)

No. 1 J'den Cox (Missouri) vs. No. 4 Frank Mattiace (Penn)
No. 2 Brett Pfarr (Minnesota) vs. No. 3 Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State)

No. 1 Austin Schafer (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 5 Jacob Kasper (Duke)
No. 2 Michael Kroells (Minnesota) vs. No. 3 Nathan Butler (Stanford)

Quarterfinal results

unseeded Gabe Townsell (Stanford) dec. No. 8 Nathan Kraisser (Campbell), 6-5
No. 5 Jack Mueller (Virginia) dec. No. 4 Sean Russell (Edinboro), 6-2
No. 6 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 3 Barlow Mcghee (Missouri),7-4
No. 7 Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) dec. No. 2 Darion Cruz (Lehigh)

No. 1 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) maj. dec. unseeded John Erneste (Missouri), 14-5
No. 5 Mitchell Mckee (Minnesota) dec. No. 4 Mark Grey (Cornell), 7-1 tb2
No. 6 Josh Alber (Northern Iowa) dec. No. 3 Kevin Devoy (Drexel), 8-4
No. 2 Scott Parker (Lehigh) dec. No. 7 Colby Smith (Appalachian St), 13-8

No. 1 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 8 Thomas Thorn (Minnesota), 2-1
No. 5 George Dicamillo (Virginia) dec. unseeded Tristan Moran (Oklahoma State), 9-4
No. 3 Joey Ward (North Carolina) dec. unseeded Boo Lewallen (Oklahoma State), 8-6
No. 2 Joey McKenna (Stanford) dec. No. 7 Jared Prince (Navy), 7-3

No. 1 Lavion Mayes (Missouri) pin unseeded Ty Buckiso (Citadel), 1:13
No. 5 Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa) dec. No. 4 Laike Gardner (Lehigh), 6-4 sv
No. 3 Patricio Lugo (Edinboro) dec. No. 6 Matt Cimato (Drexel), 3-2
No. 2 Anthony Collica (Oklahoma State) maj. dec. unseeded Nick Montgomery (Cleveland St), 14-6

No. 1 Joe Smith (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 8 Mitch Finesilver (Duke), 3-2
No. 5 Andrew Atkinson (Virginia) maj. dec. No. 4 Jake Short (Minnesota), 14-4
No. 3 Jordan Kutler (Lehigh) dec. unseeded Davey Dolan (Oklahoma State), 5-1
No. 2 Joey Lavallee (Missouri) dec. unseeded Chase Delande (Edinboro), 7-0

No. 1 Daniel Lewis (Missouri) pin No. 8 Drew Longo (Lehigh), 1:09
No. 5 Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa) dec. No. 4 Nick Wanzek (Minnesota), 6-4
No. 3 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State) dec. unseeded Cole Walter (Lehigh), 3-2
unseeded Keilan Torres (Northern Colorado) dec. unseeded Chad Pyke (North Carolina St), 3-2

unseeded Mark Hall (Penn State) dec. No. 1 Casey Kent (Penn), 9-4
No. 5 Ryan Preisch (Lehigh) maj. dec. No. 4 Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa), 14-6
No. 3 Ethan Ramos (North Carolina) dec. unseeded Connor Bass (Duke), 11-5
No. 2 Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 7 Jadaen Bernstein (Navy), 4-2, sv

No. 1 Gabe Dean (Cornell) maj. dec. No. 8 Dakota Geer (Edinboro), 16-6
No. 5 Hunter Gamble (Gardner Webb) dec. No. 4 Chip Ness (North Carolina), 8-5
No. 3 Drew Foster (Northern Iowa) dec. No. 6 Bryce Carr (Chattanooga), 6-4, s.v.
No. 2 Nolan Boyd (Oklahoma State) tech. fall No. 7 Dylan Gabel (Northern Colorado), 18-3, 7:00

No. 1 J'den Cox (Missouri) tech. fall No. 8 Owen Scott (Cornell), 22-7, 6:06
No. 4 Frank Mattiace (Penn) dec. unseeded Ben Darmstadt (Finger Lakes Prep), 14-5
No. 3 Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State) dec. unseeded Jake Anderson (Cornell), 5-2
No. 2 Brett Pfarr (Minnesota) dec. No. 7 Derek White (Oklahoma State), 10-4

No. 1 Austin Schafer (Oklahoma State) maj. dec. No. 8 Joey Goodhart (Drexel), 8-0
No. 5 Jacob Kasper (Duke) dec. No. 4 Denzel Dejournette (Appalachian St), 9-7
No. 3 Nathan Butler (Stanford) dec. No. 6 Jared Johnson (Chattanooga), 3-2
No. 2 Michael Kroells (Minnesota) dec. No. 7 Billy Miller (Edinboro), 10-8

Team Standings
1 Oklahoma State, 116
2 Missouri, 70.5
3 Lehigh, 69.5
4 Northern Iowa, 68.5
5 Minnesota, 68
6 Virginia, 46.5
7 Stanford, 44.5
8 North Carolina, 43.5
9 Cornell, 36.5
10 Edinboro, 33
11 Northern Colorado, 26
12 Appalachian St, 24.5
12 Chattanooga, 24.5
12 Gardner Webb, 24.5
15 Campbell, 22.5
15 Drexel, 22.5
17 Utah Valley, 21
18 Duke, 20.5
19 Navy, 18.5
20 Penn, 17