2018 Southern Scuffle: Upperweights Preview

For the past 14 seasons, the Southern Scuffle has been assembling one of the best college tournaments outside of the NCAA championship. Following the migratory paths laid out by the unladen swallow (not the African or European but the North American variety, naturally) as well as those of many sets of grandparents, college wrestling heads toward warmer climates every new year to battle it out at this annual classic at McKenzie Arena in downtown Chattanooga, TN. 

We will ring in 2018 with a cavalcade of combatants, including six reigning NCAA champions. The action begins at 10 AM ET on Jan. 1, so shake off the champagne hangovers and join us online as we bring you all the action.

But first, prepare for the event with our previews, concluding with the upperweights. 

WATCH LIVE ON FLO

174 Pounds

Contenders

No. 2 Mark Hall, Penn State

No. 4 Jordan Kutler, Lehigh

No. 7 Taylor Lujan, Northern Iowa

No. 8 Jadaen Bernstein, Navy

No. 12 Keaton Subjeck, Stanford

No. 18 Forrest Przybysz, App State

No. 19 Will Schany, Virginia

Hunter Bolen, Virginia Tech

Cody Hughes, Virginia Tech

Kimball Bastian, Utah Valley

With five entrants ranked in the top 12, 174 is going to be one of the most stacked weight classes in Chattanooga. Mark Hall and his NCAA title headline the group. His one loss on the season is to Zahid Valencia at the All-Star Classic, so he’s still on track for a No. 1 seed in March, as that loss doesn't go on his NCAA official record.

Jordan Kutler represents the stiffest competition from the challengers. He also only has one loss on the year, but it was to Hall in an official dual meet earlier this month. Kutler has otherwise adjusted splendidly up two weight classes from last season and will likely receive the No. 2 seed at the Scuffle after Hall.

At No. 7 and 8 in the top 20, respectively, Taylor Lujan and Jadaen Bernstein should get the next two seeds and are both worth keeping an eye on: Lujan for his otherworldly scrambling ability and Bernstein for his lightning-quick upper-body throws. If you’re signing up for FloArean Alerts (and you should — it rules!) then these are two names I recommend following. 

Another funky 174-pounder I’d advise you keep an eye on is Keaton Subjeck. The Stanford senior made some waves at the beginning of last season when he took out future 165-pound NCAA champion Vincenzo Joseph in a wild 18-12 match.

Forrest Przybysz and Will Schany are unlikely to challenge for a Scuffle title this year, but they are dark horse All-American contenders who are worth watching next Monday and Tuesday. The same goes for Kimball Bastian and the two Virginia Tech hammers that are locked in an internal battle for the starting spot on the Hokies squad, Hunter Bolen and Cody Hughes. 

Predictions

Spey’s Picks: 1) Mark Hall  2) Jordan Kutler  3) Taylor Lujan  4) Jadaen Bernstein

All picks are purely for motivational purposes only. There is no disrespect intended to anyone not picked, only inspiration to prove the pickers wrong. 

Watch Mark Hall make a statement as a true freshman while wrestling unattached in last season’s Scuffle final over All-American Kyle Crutchmer.

null

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloSports!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In


184 Pounds

Contenders

No. 1 Bo Nickal, Penn State

No. 9 Drew Foster, Northern Iowa

No. 12 Bryce Carr, Chattanooga

No. 18 Dylan Gabel, Northern Colorado

No. 19 Michael Coleman, Navy

No. 20 Nick Corba, Cleveland State

Nick Reenan, North Carolina State

Lehigh’s Ryan Preisch is still recovering from a minor injury and thus won’t be able to try and avenge his loss to the No. 1-ranked returning NCAA champ, Bo Nickal. That opens the door for one of five other top 20 wrestlers registered at 174 pounds.

The top contenders for a finals berth are Northern Iowa’s All-American Drew Foster and Chattanooga’s own Bryce Carr. Foster has taken a few losses already this season, but he avenged one of them already and is the most credentialed wrestler in the field after Nickal. 

Bryce Carr did not reach the podium last season as a freshman but has an solid opportunity to do so this year. He’ll be looking to pick up some wins at the Scuffle to help his future NCAA seed. He’s 10-3 on the year, having only taking losses to the Nos. 2-, 3-, and 7-ranked wrestlers at 184.

Though he’s currently redshirting and therefore unranked, Nick Reenan has a win over No. 7 Zack Zavatsky this year and would surely join this salty group of seven Scuffle contenders in the top 20 should be be in the starting lineup for the Wolfpack right now. 

Dylan Gabel, Michael Coleman, and Nick Corba round out our list contenders. While they are long shots for a Scuffle title, they could make a deep run in this season’s New Year tournament.

Predictions

Spey’s Picks: 1) Bo Nickal  2) Ryan Preisch  3) Bryce Carr  4) Nick Reenan

Watch Mr. Scuffle himself, Gabe Dean, take on Nolan Boyd in the 2017 184-pound final:

null

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloSports!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In


197 Pounds

Contenders

No. 9 Anthony Cassar, Penn State

No. 11 Matt Williams, CSU-Bakersfield

No. 14 Scottie Boykin, Chattanooga

No. 16 Nathan Traxler, Stanford

No. 17 Jacob Holschlag, Northern Iowa

No. 18 Jacob Seely, N. Colorado

No. 20 Jake Jakobsen, Lehigh

Chris Weiler, Lehigh

Matt McCutcheon, Penn State

Shakur Rasheed, Penn State

Stephen Loiseau, Drexel

Steban Cervantes, Navy

There are heaps of 197-pound contenders but few elite wrestlers at the top, making this year’s Scuffle a microcosm of the weight class in general. With the title up for grabs, the smart money is on one of Penn State’s three entries to claim the prize.

Anthony Cassar has been starting all year for the Nittany Lions and appeared to have solidified his starting spot when he defeated his teammates, then-No. 4 Matt McCutcheon at the Keystone Classic in November. McCutcheon hasn’t seen any action since, but the three-time NCAA qualifier will be a force to reckon with in Chattanooga. As will Shakur Rasheed, who looked for a starting spot with Penn State anywhere from 165 to 197 over the course of his career. The cradle-savvy junior is dangerous at any weight.

The Lehigh duo of Jake Jakobsen and Chris Weiler may have something to say about Penn State taking over all the top spots in the 197-pound bracket. Jakobson has a win over No. 15 Frank Mattiace and Weiler defeated No. 10 Jeric Kasunic, so they are both capable of pulling off upsets.

Of the five remaining top 20 entries not yet discussed, Bakersfield’s Matt Williams has gone the furthest in the NCAA tournament, reaching the round of 16 in St. Louis last March. He’ll have is work cut out for him at the Scuffle, as besides six other ranked wrestlers, there are the Penn State's and Lehigh's backups to worry about, who are all arguably rankable, as well as bubble guys such as Steban Cervantes and Stephen Loiseau. Whoever emerges from the carnage of this bracket will have earned his trophy.

Predictions

Spey’s Picks: 1) Anthony Cassar  2) Matt Williams  3) Matt McCutcheon  4) Chris Weiler

The 2017 Scuffle provided a preview of last season's NCAA finals. Watch J’den Cox and Brett Pfarr wrestler in the previous final at 197:

null

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloSports!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In


285 Pounds

Contenders

No. 3 Nick Nevills, Penn State

No. 5 Jacob Kasper, Duke

No. 7 Mike Hughes, Hofstra

No. 10 Jordan Wood, Lehigh

No. 11 Thomas Haines, Lock Haven

No. 14 Nathan Butler, Stanford

Jere Heino, Campbell

Joey Goodhart, Drexel

Dustin Dennison, Utah Valley

Nick Nevills split matches with Jacob Kasper at the 2017 NCAA tournament, losing in the quarterfinals but winning in the fifth-place match. Nevills then won the rubber match in the finals of the Keystone Classic this November. Both wrestlers should get the top two seeds, setting up round four in the finals. That is, if they both make it there.

Standing in the way will be the gargantuan Mike Hughes of Hofstra. Hughes is undefeated on the year but still looking for a match against his first top 10 opponent, something he should be able to find in Chattanooga. 

Jordan Wood picked up this season right where he left off from his redshirt freshman campaign, which is going toe-to-toe with the best heavyweights in the nation. That group would include the streaky Thomas Haines and Nathan Butter, who are both looking to notch some major wins to help their seeding case in March. 

Top 20 bubble guys Jere Heino, Joey Goodhart, and Dustin Dennison complete our very competitive heavyweight Scuffle bracket. We’re looking forward to it and hope you all are too. See you in 2018!

Predictions

Spey’s Picks: 1) Nick Nevills  2) Mike Hughes  3) Jacob Kasper  4) Jordan Wood

Jacob Kasper won it all last year. Watch his match with Michael Kroells:

null

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloSports!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

By The Numbers: Iowa & Oklahoma State's Season So Far

The Hawkeyes and Cowboys are on a collision course scheduled for impact on Sunday, February 24th in historic Gallagher-Iba Arena. Both teams are loaded, with marquee matchups slated for just about every weight. Both teams have also gone through plenty of changes this season. We breakdown their respective journeys below. 

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloWrestling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Second Coaches Poll And RPI Breakdown

null

0:00
0:00 / 0:00

The second coaches' poll was released this week, this time with an RPI accompaniment. Over 400 individual wrestlers made at least one of the lists. We've copied those two lists at the end of this article. Before them is a breakdown of the implications of both lists. 

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloWrestling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Daton Fix's Path To The 1 Seed At NCAAs

null

0:00
0:00 / 0:00

Daton Fix came into his redshirt freshman year as one of the most hyped recruits in history, having won a Junior world title in 2017 and wrestling in Final X before ever wearing the Oklahoma State singlet.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloWrestling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Iowa Travels To Wisconsin On Sunday With B1G Seeding Implications At 165

null

0:00
0:00 / 0:00

Iowa finishes up their Big Ten schedule this weekend, starting with senior day against Indiana at Carver Hawkeye on Friday. Two days later, they make the trip to Madison to close out their conference duals.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloWrestling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Can Oklahoma State End Missouri's 35-Match Winning Streak This Saturday?

null

0:00
0:00 / 0:00

The #4 Oklahoma State Cowboys and #10 Missouri Tigers renew their rivalry this weekend in Columbia. The home team owns a 35-dual winning streak, which includes last year's 21-19 win in Stillwater.

Chris Ayers' 7 Ways To Defend A Leg Rider

null

0:00
0:00 / 0:00

Plenty of us have had trouble with a tough/savvy leg rider. 

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloWrestling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Jody Strittmatter's Spencer Lee-Like Top Game

null

0:00
0:00 / 0:00

Spencer Lee is an absolute hammer on top. 

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloWrestling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

FRL 353: 165lb Big Ten Seeds + Micic/Suriano Will Tell Us A Lot About 133

null

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloSports!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

FRL 353 - 165lb Big Ten Seeds + Micic/Suriano Will Tell Us A Lot About 133

What 2 Watch 4: It's Game Time

null

0:00
0:00 / 0:00

Do nothing but watch wrestling this weekend. Don't even think about doing anything else. I've got all the links and matchups for you right here. If you screw up this weekend by not watching wrestling, you have only yourself to blame!

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloWrestling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

PIAA AAA Recap: Bethlehem Catholic On Historic Run

For the third time this year Bethlehem Catholic defeated Northampton. The all District 11 final provided plenty of drama as the Konkrete Kids pushed the Golden Hawks to the limit in the final dual of the year. All bouts are archived on FloArena and can be played on-demand. Here are some finals thoughts from Hershey.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloWrestling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In