2023 Southern Scuffle Presented by Compound Sportswear

2023 Southern Scuffle Lightweight Preview

2023 Southern Scuffle Lightweight Preview

Get a full breakdown of the 125-, 133-, and 141-pound weight classes at the 2023 Southern Scuffle.

Dec 26, 2022 by Kyle Klingman
2023 Southern Scuffle Lightweight Preview

The Southern Scuffle continues to be the best first tournament of the new year and an ideal way to kick off the second half of the college season. The lightweight field is formidable but some of the suspense comes from not knowing who will compete. Some programs are sending full rosters plus reserves while others are only sending back-ups. 

Virginia Tech has indicated that it will not send starters while Iowa State's Kevin Dresser will not send #13 Kysen Terukina (125) or #8 Casey Swiderski (141) to the tournament. Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Stanford plan to send a full roster, which should make the first three weights interesting. 

Below is a breakdown of what we could see at 125, 133, and 141 pounds based on the latest available information.

125 pounds

The Favorite
#3 Patrick McKee (Minnesota)

There’s every reason to believe that Patrick McKee will win this weight if the Golden Gopher enters. McKee won in 2022 with an impressive series of wins. His only close match was a 6-5 semifinal victory over Iowa’s Drake Ayala before receiving a forfeit in the finals.

The Minnesota star is off to a 7-0 start but had a tussle with Cal Poly’s #23, Antonio Lorenzo, during a dual on November 11. McKee won 5-3 in sudden victory, which opens the door for the Southern Scuffle field to earn a win over a highly credentialed opponent.

The Contenders
#11 Trevor Mastrogiovanni (Oklahoma State)
#12 Matt Ramos (Purdue)

Oklahoma State’s Trevor Mastrogiovanni should be seeded second behind McKee and he’s likely excited about the opportunity to pick up a win over his Minnesota foe. Mastrogiovanni won 10-6 during a dual on November 22, 2021, but fell 9-1 at the 2022 NCAA championships and 4-1 on December 4. Evening the series is significant for seeding as these two traditional powers look to climb back into college wrestling’s elite. 

Don’t sleep on Purdue’s Matt Ramos if he enters. Ramos is 14-2 this season after reaching the Round of 12 at the 2022 NCAA Championships. The Boilermaker star reached the finals of the Cliff Keen Invitational before dropping a 3-2 match against Arizona State’s Richie Figueroa. 

Purdue’s last national place winner was Ivan Lopouchanski’s seventh-place finish in 2013, so Ramos is looking to end a 10-year streak. A solid showing will enhance his seeding at the B10 Championships and, ultimately, at the NCAA Championships.

Sleepers & Landmines
#16 Noah Surtin (Missouri)
#18 Stevo Poulin (Northern Colorado)
#24 Caleb Smith (Appalachian State)

Missouri enters as a favorite to take home the team title, and Noah Surtin will play a factor. Surtin reached the Round of 12 at the 2022 national tournament but doesn’t have a significant win this season. The Tiger lightweight is 4-2 on the season so the Southern Scuffle provides an opportunity to snag a key win or two as Missouri makes its push for a team trophy at the NCAA Championships. 

Northern Colorado’s Stevo Poulin might be the one to watch at the Southern Scuffle. The freshman phenom — known for his viral internet fame as an eight-year-old — will get tested in Chattanooga. Poulin is 13-0 on the season but only has one notable victory over a current college wrestler: a 2-1 sudden victory win over Cornell’s Brett Ungar. This Southern Scuffle could be the breakout tournament for Poulin as he looks to add to his legacy. 

Appalachian State’s Caleb Smith should not be taken lightly, either. Smith is 8-3 on the season after going 2-2 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite without placing. The Southern Scuffle will provide his best competition prior to the Southern Conference tournament in March. 

Top four predictions
1. Patrick McKee (Minnesota)
2. Matt Ramos (Purdue)
3. Trevor Mastrogiovanni (Oklahoma State)
4. Stevo Poulin (Northnern Colorado)

2022 results
1. Pat Mckee (Minnesota)
2. Killian Cardinale (West Virginia)
3. Drake Ayala (Iowa)
4. Noah Surtin (Missouri)
5. Caleb Smith (Appalachian State)
6. Fabian Gutierrez (Tennessee-Chattanooga)
7. Greg Diakomihalis (Cornell)
8. Eddie Ventresca (Virginia Tech)


Minnesota's Pat McKee had a 6-5 semifinal shootout against Iowa's Drake Ayala at the 2022 Southern Scuffle

133 Pounds

The Favorite
#2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)

It’s Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix and everyone else — and for good reason. The Cowboy star only has four career losses and three came in the NCAA tournament finals. 

He also has a 2019 Southern Scuffle title, which doesn’t mean anything for this season other than further proof that Fix is really good. The 2021 World silver medalist is 5-0 on the year and is looking to earn a significant title as he seeks his first NCAA title. 

#16 Ramazan Attasauov (Iowa State)
HM Aaron Nagao (Minnesota)

Iowa State’s Russian-born Ramazan Attasauov should give Fix his toughest test — if he reaches the finals. Attasauov won his first six matches this year but fell to Cornell’s #3 Vito Arujau, 3-1, and Penn State’s #1 Roman Bravo-Young, 10-2. He fell to Fix twice last season so it will take a significant effort for the Cyclone to take out the Cowboy. 

Zach Redding will move back down to 133 pounds after competing at 141 for three matches at the Collegiate Duals. This could also serve as a wrestle-off for Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser since he has two quality options at this weight.

The remainder of the field will look to find a spot near the top of the podium. Minnesota’s Aaron Nagao is 8-1 this season but hasn’t entered the rankings yet. He reached the 2022 Southern Scuffle finals and placed fifth at the 2022 U23 Freestyle World Championships, so this could be his breakout tournament. Nagao lost to Fix, 10-3, on December 4 and fell to Redding, 7-0, early last season but has an opportunity to avenge both losses at the Scuffle.

Sleepers & Landmines
#20 Chance Rich (Cal State-Bakersfield
#23 Sean Carter (Appalachian State)
#24 Kurt Phipps (Bucknell)
HM Brayden Palmer (Tennessee-Chattanooga)
HM Connor Brown (Missouri)

Chance Rich (Cal State-Bakersfield), Sean Carter (Appalachian State), Kurt Phipps (Bucknell), Brayden Palmer (Tennessee-Chattanooga), and Connor Brown (Missouri) are in about the same place this season and will contend for the highest available spot after Fix. All are seeking wins against each other as a way to maintain their rankings or to move up a spot or two. 

Top four predictions
1. Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)
2. Aaron Nagao (Minnesota)
3. Connor Brown (Missouri)
4. Ramazan Attasauov (Iowa State)

2022 results
1. Rayvon Foley (Michigan State)
2. Aaron Nagao (Minnesota)
3. Brayden Palmer (Tennessee-Chattanooga)
4. Cullan Schriever (Iowa)
5. Trey Crawford (Missouri)
6. Codi Russell (Appalachian State)
7. Ethan Fernandez (Spartan Combat RTC)
8. Ethan Oakley (Appalachian State)


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Oklahoma State's Daton Fix defeated former Cyclone Austin Gomez during the 2019 Southern Scuffle finals

141 Pounds

The Favorite
#1 Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado)

Top-ranked Andrew Alirez of Northern Colorado enters with two falls, three technical falls, and a major decision for a dominant start to the season. The level of competition increases as the UNC junior looks to separate from the pack.

The Contenders
#9 Allan Hart (Missouri)
#10 Jake Bergeland (Minnesota)
#11 Dylan Droegemueller (North Dakota State)

Missouri’s Allan Hart, Minnesota’s Jake Bergeland, and North Dakota’s State’s Dylan Droegemueller are bunched together and each has a legitimate shot at taking the title — if they all attend. 

Hart is 4-1 so he doesn’t have a large body of work this season, but a 26-second fall over Droegemueller on December 20 should boost his confidence. Bergeland has a win over Droegemuller but has a setback to Oklahoma State’s Carter Young and a head-scratching loss by fall to Lindenwood’s Kalen Napier on December 11. 

The Golden Gopher star pinned Alirez during the Round of 12 at the 2022 NCAA Championships, which ultimately led to a seventh-place finish. 

Alirez placed third behind Hart at the 2022 Southern Scuffle but the two did not meet during the tournament, although they did meet twice during the season with Alirez winning both times. 

Sleepers & Landmines
#19 Parker Filius (Purdue)
#23 Darren Miller (Bucknell)
HM McKenzie Bell (Rider)
HM Kal Miller (Maryland)
Carter Young (Oklahoma State)

Purdue’s #19 Parker Filius, Bucknell’s #23 Darren Miller, Rider’s McKenzie Bell, Maryland’s Kal Miller, and Young appear to be in the next tier. Young is 2-3 on the season but has breakout potential. Is the Southern Scuffle where he makes his mark?

Bell has a 9-6 win over Filius but has taken three big bonus point losses this season. Filius placed seventh at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite with a 5-2 record so we know he can get gritty if he has to. 

Darren Miller is 9-3 on the season with a win over Young but he went 2-2 at Cliff Keen. Kal Miller began the season with five wins but suffered a pair of 5-1 losses during his last two matches. 

What does all this mean for this bracket? There’s room for a handful of wrestlers in the wide-open 141-pound class to pick up a statement win or two as the heart of the season gets underway. 

Top four predictions
1. Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado)
2. Allan Hart (Missouri)
3. Jake Bergeland (Minnesota)
4. Parker Filius (Purdue)

2022 results
1. Real Woods (Stanford)
2. Allan Hart (Missouri)
3. Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado)
4. Clay Carlson (South Dakota State)
5. Wyatt Henson (Iowa)
6. Vince Cornella (Spartan Combat RTC)
7. Quinn Kinner (Rider)
8. Josh Saunders (Cornell)


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Minnesota's Jacob Bergeland pinned Northern Colorado's Andrew Alirez during the blood round of the 2022 NCAA Championships. Could we see a rematch at the Southern Scuffle?


#32 Appalachian State
#T46 Binghamton
#T46 Bucknell
#T 49 Cal State-Bakersfield
#T49 Duke
#3 Iowa State
Little Rock
#T36 Maryland
#19 Minnesota
#4 Missouri
#21 Northern Colorado
#27 North Dakota State
#14 Oklahoma State
#T23 Purdue
#T23 Rider
#T23 Stanford
#T49 Tennessee-Chattanooga
#11 Virginia Tech