2022 Southern Scuffle

Southern Scuffle Upperweight Preview & Predictions

Southern Scuffle Upperweight Preview & Predictions

Breaking down the big boys who will be scrapping at the 2021 Southern Scuffle wrestling tournament.

Dec 29, 2021 by Andrew Spey
Southern Scuffle Upperweight Preview & Predictions

It's nearly 2022, and what better way to put 2021 in the rear view than by watching a rad wrestling tournament. Thankfully, the Southern Scuffle is here with another edition of this annual tradition. 

Scuffle Lightweight Preview | Scuffle Middleweight Preview

184 Pounds

Title Contenders

#8 Hunter Bolen, Virginia Tech

#12 Jon Loew, Cornell

These two just recently battled it out at the Journeymen Collegiate Duals in Niceville, Florida. Loew won 7-5 in sudden victory, announcing himself as an All-American contender by taking out Bolen, last year's sixth-placer who spent all but the final week of the year ranked either #1 or #2. 

It's no guarantee we get a rematch between these two in Chattanooga, but they would be favorites against anyone else in the field. Loew having an earlier loss to Taylor Venz this season keeps him from being higher in the rankings but it would be very much a toss-up if there was another meeting between Loew and Bolen. 

Watch Loew take third at this season's CKLV:

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Other Contenders

#16 Jeremiah Kent, Missouri

#21 Layne Malczewski, Michigan State

#24 Kyle Cochran, Maryland

Cade King, South Dakota State

Colton Hawks, Missouri

Three other ranked entrants will vie for podium spots with another honorable mention (King) and a junior world team member (Hawks). I'm especially interested to see how Hawks fares, as has he hasn't seen much folkstyle action in the last two seasons. 

It will also be a great opportunity to get more results from Cade King at 184, as he started for the Jackrabbits at 174 throughout the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Throw Hawks' teammate, Jeremiah Kent, who finished in the round of 16 in last year's NCAAs, and two veterans like Malczewski and Cochran, and we've got a great opportunity to see where things stand with many quality 184-pounders. 

These big tournaments are excellent for finding out those kinds of things!

And this field needs it. It is deep, and there are maybe a dozen or more competitors who could find themselves on a podium step.

Sleepers and Landmines

Jha'Quan Anderson, Gardner-Webb

Isaiah Salazar, Minnesota

Anderson is in his third year at Gardner-Webb. He's got a losing record at the moment but has wrestled a very difficult schedule and qualified for, and won a match at, last season's NCAA championships. 

Salazar doesn't have a lot of results on his resume but the fact that two-time All-American Dakota Geer needed sudden victory to beat him in November bodes well for his future with the Gophers. 

Every Entrant

#8 Hunter Bolen, Virginia Tech

#12 Jon Loew, Cornell

#16 Jeremiah Kent, Missouri

#21 Layne Malczewski, Michigan State

#24 Kyle  Cochran, Maryland

#HM Gavin Kane, North Carolina

#HM Cade King, South Dakota St

Colton Hawks, Missouri

Jha'Quan Anderson, Gardner-Webb

Mark Chaid, North Carolina

Sam Fisher, Virginia Tech

Bryan McLaughlin, Drexel

Isaiah Salazar, Minnesota

Matthew Waddell, Chattanooga

Peter Acciardi, Buffalo

Vincent Baker, Duke

Donovon Ball, Penn State

Barrett Blakely, Appalachian State

Brian Bonino, Columbia

Branson Britten, Northern Colorado

Zach Brown, VMI

Anthony Carman, West Virginia

Luke Chakonis, Duke

Kyle Davis, George Mason

Micha  DiCarlo, The Citadel

Mason Diel, UA- Little Rock

Judah Duhm, Stanford

Joe Franzese, Columbia

Jacob Hansen, CSU-Bakersfield

Colbey Harlen, Stanford

Gavin Henry, Davidson

Landon Lewis, Chattanooga

Tanner Mendoza, UA- Little Rock

Chase Mielnik, Maryland

Sam Mora, Gardner-Webb

Michael Nelson, North Dakota St

DJ Parker Jr, North Dakota St

Sam Schroeder, Bellarmine

Gavin Stika, Oklahoma St

Josh Stillings, Drexel

Xavier Vasquez, Northern Colorado

Evan Vazquez, Rider

Spey's Spredictions

1) Hunter Bolen; 2) Jon Loew; 3) Colton Hawks; 4) Gavin Kane


197 Pounds

Title Contenders

#6 Rocky Elam, Missouri

Michael Beard, Penn State

Rocky Elam is trying to keep his hot streak going, having placed fifth at the 2021 NCAA Championships and then won the UWW Junior World Championship gold medal over the summer in Ufa, Russia. Standing in his way of a Southern Scuffle title is Penn State's Michael Beard. 

The Nittany Lions are keeping most of their starters in State College, but when you've got a bench as deep as Coach Sanderson's, you've got backups that are capable of winning big tournaments. Max Dean may have pole position in the battle to win postseason spot for Penn State, but Beard, a 2021 All-American, will be favored to make the finals in Chattanooga opposite Elam. 

Watch highlights of Beard in his bloodround match at the 2021 NCAAs:

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Other Contenders

#15 Owen Pentz, North Dakota State

#24 Alan Clothier, Northern Colorado

Tanner Sloan, South Dakota State

Cam Caffey, Michigan State

Michaial Foy, Minnesota

Jaron Smith, Maryland

Sloan, Caffey, Foy and Smith are all honorable mentions in the latest set of NCAA rankings, making 197 one of the deepest fields of registered wrestlers at the Scuffle. 

Pentz earned a ranking thanks to his excellent performance at the 2021 NCAA Championship that included a win over Nebraska's Eric Schultz. Pentz will have an opportunity to prove that result was no fluke in Chattanooga. 

Clothier is a three-time national qualifier that brings a lot of experience to the table. The same can be said for Sloan and Caffey, who also both made the 2019 UWW Junior World Team. Sloan was the 97kg freestyle rep and Caffey made the team at 87kg in Greco. Neither placed in Tallin, Estonia that year but they both also have Pan-Am junior gold medals to their name. 

Foy brings some junior college hardware to the tournament, having placed twice in the NJCAA national championship, winning a title in 2019. 

Injuries have hampered Jaron Smith's career at Maryland but the seventh year Terrapin is very capable of making some waves in the Noog. 

Sleepers and Landmines

Andrew Stemmet, Stanford

Ben Stemmet, The Citadel

Kaden Russell, Duke

Christian Knop, North Carolina State

I had to include the Stemmet twins, who could meet for the second time this season, having already clashed at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. 

Watch Stemmet vs Stemmet from Las Vegas:

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Kaden Russell took out ACC rival Isaac Trumble last season, and Trumble has a few highly ranked names on his victory hitlist. 

Trumble trains with Knop, another highly rated recruit that can be found in abundance in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Every Entrant

#6 Rocky Elam, Missouri

#15 Owen Pentz, North Dakota St

#24 Alan Clothier, Northern Colorado

#HM Tanner Sloan, South Dakota St

#HM Cam Caffey, Michigan State

#HM Michaial Foy, Minnesota

#HM Jaron  Smith, Maryland

Michael Beard, Penn State

Matt Correnti, Rider

Josh Loomer, CSU-Bakersfield

Kaden Russell, Duke

Max Shaw, North Carolina

Andy Smith, Virginia Tech

Jaxon Smith, Maryland

Jacob Anderson, Rider

Azeem Bell, Rider

Nick Casperson, South Dakota St

Jacob Ferreira, North Carolina St

Jack Flynn, Missouri

Cody Howard, Virginia Tech

Garrett Jones, Minnesota

Christian Knop, North Carolina St

Cade Lautt, North Carolina

Kevin Makosy, Maryland

Sam Mitchell, Buffalo

Jackson Moomau, West Virginia

Mateo Morales, CSU-Bakersfield

Santino Morina, Drexel

Tyler Mousaw, VMI

Anthony Perrine, Gardner-Webb

Brooks Sacharczyk, UA- Little Rock

Eli Sheeren, Buffalo

Andrew Stemmet, Stanford

Ben  Stemmet, The Citadel

Asa Terrell, Rider

Sam Wustefeld, Columbia

Spey's Spredictions

1) Michael Beard; 2) Rocky Elam; 3) Cam Caffey; 4) Tanner Sloan


285 Pounds

Title Contenders

#16 Zach Elam, Missouri

#18 Lewis Fernandes, Cornell

#19 Michael Wolfgram, West Virginia

#20 Owen Trephan, North Carolina State

Seth Nevills, Penn State

Deonte Wilson, North Carolina State

Not as many NCAA title contenders at heavyweight (two of them, Mason Parris and Cohlton Schultz, are slated to compete in a dual meet in Austin, Texas on January 3), but still, a solid collection of heavies are scheduled to compete in Tennessee. 

Leading the pack is Zach Elam, who has advanced the round of 16 and the bloodround in two trips to the big dance. Challenging him will be a trio of young, ranked, heavyweights, Fernandes, Wolfgram, and Trephan, who are all poised for a breakout performance. 

Neither Seth Nevills nor Deonte Wilson are starters for their respective teams, at the moment anyway, but Wilson is a two-time national qualifier, and Nevills was on his way to qualifying in 2020 before injuries kept him from officially making the field. Both could contend for a Scuffle title in the first two days of 2022.

Other Contenders

#22 Brandon Metz, North Dakota State

#23 AJ Nevills, South Dakota State

Hunter Catka, Virginia Tech

Austin Harris, Oklahoma State

Michael McAleavey, The Citadel

Brandon Whitman, North Carolina

The line between 'title contenders' and 'other contenders' is hazy and indistinct, like the twilight between day and night or the dividing line between ankle and foot. 

Could Brandon Metz or AJ Nevills challenge for a spot in the 285-pound finals? Naturally! Did we have to draw the line somewhere? I guess! Maybe not? Consider everyone a contender if you prefer!

Anyway, both Metz and Nevills are national qualifiers. AJ can boast of qualifying for two Championships, something younger bro Seth has yet to do (though Seth does have four California high school state championships to AJ's singular state title). 

Catka qualified for the 2021 tournament but is redshirting this season as grad transfer Nathan Traxler anchors the Hokie lineup. Austin Harris made the bloodround at last year's national championship but appears to have ceded the starting gig in Stillwater to Luke Surber. Neither Traxler nor Surber is slated to Scuffle in the new year.

Conversely, it appears that Brandon Whitman has seized the starting job at heavyweight for the Tar Heels after missing the postseason in 2021 while Andrew Gunning held down 285 in Chapel Hill. Whitman qualified for the 2019 NCAA tournament down at 197-pounds. 

Finally, don't sleep on sixth-year senior Michael McAleavey, who is starting for the fifth year in a row for the Bulldogs of the Citadel, and is attempting to qualify for his second consecutive NCAA tournament.  

Watch a match between Hunter Catka and NC State's Tyrie Houghton at this season's GMU Patriot Open:

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Sleepers and Landmines

Zachary Schrader, Maryland

Konner Doucet, Oklahoma State

David Szuba, Rider

Scharder has been in and out of the rankings throughout the first two months of the eason. I think the transfer from Cal Baptist could surprise some people.

Doucet is the Cowboy's nominal third-stringer, but that's third in line in Stillwater, not your typical program. 

Finally, David Szuba is probably a year or two away from a breakout season, but the talented true freshman from New Jersey should not be overlooked in the meantime. 

Every Entrant

#16 Zach Elam, Missouri

#18 Lewis Fernandes, Cornell

#19 Michael Wolfgram, West Virginia

#20 Owen Trephan, North Carolina St

#22 Brandon Metz, North Dakota St

#23 AJ Nevills, South Dakota St

Hunter Catka, Virginia Tech

Austin Harris, Oklahoma St

Seth Nevills, Penn State

Deonte Wilson, North Carolina St

Toby Cahill, Buffalo

Michael  McAleavey, The Citadel

Jacob Seely, Northern Colorado

David Szuba, Rider

Robert Winters, Northern Colorado

Jake Andrews, CSU-Bakersfield

Eli Anthony, Drexel

Michael Burchell, Appalachian State

Jonathan  Chesser, The Citadel

Nicco Colucci, Rutgers

Dan Conley, Columbia

Isaac Dolph, VMI

Konner Doucet, Oklahoma St

Matthias Ervin, Chattanooga

Brendan  Furman, Cornell

Josiah Hill, UA- Little Rock

Tyrie Houghton, North Carolina St

Evans Josh, VMI

Peyton McComas, Gardner-Webb

Bowen McConville, South Dakota St

Peter Ming, Stanford

Jonah Nisenbaum, Duke

Seth Nitzel, Missouri

Seamus O'Malley, Stanford

Abraham Preson, Gardner-Webb

Brayden Ray, Duke

Jacob Sartorio, Appalachian State

Zachary  Schrader, Maryland

Harris Solomon, VMI

Jalen Stephens, Columbia

Austin Stith, George Mason

Mitchell Trigg, Davidson

Grayson Walthall, Chattanooga

Brandon Whitman, North Carolina

Brad Wilton, Michigan State

Spey's Spredictions

1) Zach Elam; 2) Owen Trephan; 3) Lewis Fernandes; 4) Seth Nevills