Dean Heil advanced to the semifinals of Southern Scuffle (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- All 10 Oklahoma State wrestling starters advanced to the semifinals of the Southern Scuffle Sunday evening. Along with the 10 still competing in the championship bracket, five are still alive in the consolation bracket at their respective weights.
The Cowboys hold a commanding lead in the team race as well, as Oklahoma State currently holds 116 team points heading into the event's second and final day. That total puts the Cowboys nearly 46 points ahead of second-place Missouri.
"I think we all had to grind through a lot of matches today that maybe my guys weren't prepared for," head coach John Smith said. "I think they thought it was going to be a little bit easier. It's nice to grind through matches and get your hand raised, and I think just about every one of them did. It's definitely not the style I'm looking for at this time, but we just need to focus on separating the scores and not wrestling down to our opponent."
The Cowboy starters combined to go 30-0 overall on Sunday. After the round of 32, 17 Pokes were still alive in the championship bracket. Of those 17, 14 would advance to the championship quarterfinals.
Redshirt freshman Nick Piccininni gutted out three decisions in his first day in Chattanooga to remain in the hunt at 125 pounds going into Monday's semifinals. Seeded sixth, Piccininni opened the day with a 7-2 decision over Virginia's Louie Hayes. Following a 10-3 win over Chattanooga's Fabian Gutierrez in the round of 16, the Cowboy posted perhaps the most impressive win of his young career in a 7-4 decision over third-seeded and seventh-ranked Barlow McGhee of Missouri. Piccininni is set to match up with Minnesota's Ethan Lizak in the semifinals tomorrow.
Top seeded 133-pounder Kaid Brock rolled through his first three matches of the week, recording decisions over Virginia's Micky Phillipi and Edinboro's Anthony Rivera to advance to the quarterfinals. In the quarters, Brock survived an early scare from Missouri's John Erneste, as the pair traded scores in the first two minutes of the match. Brock would pull away shortly after, however, securing his spot in the semifinals in a 14-5 major decision. Brock will face No. 5 seed Mitchell McKee of Minnesota on Sunday.
Reigning national champion at 141 pounds Dean Heil opened his day strong, posting a 17-1 technical fall over Gardner Webb's Ryan Hull in the round of 32. The remainder of Heil's day was not so easy, as the Cowboy dug deep to pull out a pair of narrow, one-point decisions over North Carolina's AC Headlee and Minnesota's Tommy Thorn. Heil's opponents took multiple good shots, but it was his defense that carried him into the semifinals, where he will face off with fifth-seeded George DiCamillo of Virginia tomorrow.
Anthony Collica continued the momentum from his monstrous pin in the Cowboys' last dual against Cornell, as the senior recorded two of his three wins by way of major decision to move into the semifianls. The other victory came by injury default over Duke's Michael Monica in the first period.
The 157-pound bracket's top seed Joe Smith was impressive Sunday in his second appearance since rejoining the Cowboy lineup earlier this month. Smith opened with an 11-3 major decision over Appalachian State's Angel Nahar in the round of 32 before preceding to post decisions over Air Force's Dane Robbins and No. 8 seed Mitch Finesilver of Duke.
Seeded No. 3 at 165 pounds, redshirt sophomore Chandler Rogers advanced to the semis with two of his three wins coming with bonus points. Rogers opened with a 13-5 major decision over North Carolina's Jack Clark before a 17-2 technical fall over Gardner Webb's Tyler Marinelli in the round of 16. Rogers would finish off his day with a narrow, 3-2 decision over Lehigh's Cole Walter.
Kyle Crutchmer had an impressive sudden victory win over seventh-seeded Jadaen Bernstein of Navy in the quarterfinals that would lock him into tomorrow's semifinal matchup against No. 3 seed Ethan Ramos of North Carolina. Tied at two at the end of regulation, Crutchmer notched the decisive takedown in under 30 seconds to seal the win, adding to a major decision over Edinboro's Ty Schoffstall and a decision over Minnesota's Brandon Krone earlier in the day.
Nolan Boyd, the second seed at 184 pounds, only wrestled two matches Sunday, but made the most of both by recording a pair of bonus point victories. Boyd received a bye into the round of 16, where he notched an 18-4 major decision over Chattanooga's Dominic Lampe. In the quarterfinals, Boyd was dominant from start to finish, posting a technical fall with riding time that would send him to the semis to face Northern Iowa's Drew Foster.
Redshirt sophomore Preston Weigel earned a hard-fought win over Cornell's Jake Anderson in the quarterfinals in which the Cowboy trailed for much of the match. Anderson chose down to start the third with Weigel trailing, 2-0. Weigel not only held on for the duration of the period, but turned Anderson twice to seize control of the match, which he took, 5-2.
Heavyweight Austin Schafer proved himself worthy of the bracket's No. 1 seed Sunday, recording four bonus point victories, including a fall, two major decisions and a tech fall, to cruise into the semifinals. This season, Schafer has made the most of the opportunities he's been given, leading all starters with eight bonus point wins. He'll face fifth-seeded Jacob Kasper of Duke in the semi tomorrow.
Five Cowboys remain alive in the tournament's backdraw after Tristan Moran (141), Boo Lewallen (141), Davey Dolan (157) and Derek White (197) each came up short in their quarterfinal matches. Meanwhile, Eli Hale has won his way through the 125-pound consolation bracket after falling in the round of 16 on Sunday.
Moran and Lewallen both had impressive days, despite both being topped by higher-seeded opponents in their final matches of the evening. Moran went 2-1, recording a major decision and a second-period fall in his first two matches before dropping his quarterfinal match against Virginia's George DiCamillo in a 9-4 decision. Lewallen went 2-1 as well on the day, letting his quarterfinal match against No. 3 seed Joey Ward get away from him late.
Dolan also had a nice day, picking up a couple of wins including the highlight 9-6 decision over No. 3 seed and 19th-ranked May Bethea of Penn in the round of 16. Derek White went 2-1 before coming up short in a 10-4 decision to No. 2 Brett Pfarr of Minnesota.
Action at the Southern Scuffle is set to get back underway on Monday at 10 a.m. ET. Watch all of the matches live on FloWrestling.org with a subscription, or follow live stats here.