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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    Stats for Southern Scuffle Champions

    2022 Southern Scuffle champion Wyatt Hendrickson (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

    While one of the traditional mid-season tournaments needed to go through some last-minute permutations, the Southern Scuffle was able to kick off the 2022 calendar year. As always, the tournament featured a mix of returning contenders as well as some newcomers to the college season who are still on redshirt. The following looks at some of the top statistical performers from the tournament and some odd occurrences.

    Point Differential

    It might be an understatement to call this year's heavyweight division stacked. The field returns multiple age-group World medalists and the reigning Olympic champion. Even though No. 7 Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) saw his season end last year in the Round of 12, he put on an All-American worthy performance at the Southern Scuffle.

    Hendrickson won all five of his matches on the way to the heavyweight title, including three falls, a technical fall and a major decision. Despite all the quick finishes, he still managed to score 49 match points. At the same time, he allowed his opponents to only score four points across his five matches. On a per-minute basis, those numbers equate to 2.70 points per minute and 0.22 points against per minute. That left Hendrickson with a dominant +2.48 point differential, which was far and away, the highest of the tournament.

    The next closest wrestler in terms of point differential was No. 20 Andrew Sparks (Minnesota), who only wrestled one match before defaulting out of the field. While point differential is not always a predictor of success, it was in this tournament as all of the top six outside of Sparks at least made the finals.

    Top Point Differentials

    285: Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) +2.48
    165: Andrew Sparks (Minnesota) +1.86
    197: Rocky Elam (Missouri) +1.66
    133: Rayvon Foley (Michigan State) +1.55
    125: Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) +1.47
    165: Keegan O'Toole (Missouri) +1.40

    Points per Minute

    With a point differential that high, it should not be a shock that Hendrickson also had the highest points per minute rate. His 2.70 rate was tops in the tournament, but coming in second was an interesting name. Heavyweight David Szuba (Rider) is a true freshman who joined the Broncs after winning a New Jersey state championship last year. He certainly had his highs and lows at the Southern Scuffle and eventually saw his tournament come to an end in the consolation bracket against No. 32 Michael McAleavey (The Citadel). However, he certainly racked up the points when he was on the mat.

    Szuba scored 15 or more points in all three of his victories and finished with a 2.28 points per minute rate. Heavyweight can be a tough weight for newcomers to the college scene. However, Szuba's ability to put points on the board is likely a good omen for his future prospects in the division.

    Top Points per Minute Rates

    285: Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) 2.70
    285: David Szuba (Rider) 2.28
    165: Keegan O'Toole (Missouri) 2.20
    165: Andrew Sparks (Minnesota) 2.14
    149: Alek Martin (SDSU) 2.07

    Points Against per Minute

    Aaron Nagao (Minnesota) came into the Scuffle with a 1-2 career record, and the California state champion went all the way to the finals at 133 before coming up short against No. 11 Rayvon Foley (Michigan State). Nagao relied heavily on his defense and only fell by a 2-0 score. In fact, it was his defense that carried him throughout the tournament. He allowed only four points through his five matches and shut out three opponents. His 0.14 points allowed per minute rate was tied for the best in the tournament. If Nagao can continue to present that kind of defense, he might be able to pull a few key upsets during the Big Ten season.

    Equally, the defensive performance on Nagao was the 141 champion No. 6 Real Woods (Stanford). He allowed five points in the tournament and finished with a 0.14 points against per minute rate. Four of those points came in his semifinal victory over No. 8 Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado). Even in that match, Woods' defense was key as he held off a takedown at the end to pull out the victory. The Stanford sophomore finished in the round of 12 last year and looked poised for a run at All-American status.

    Top Points Allowed per Minute Rates

    133: Aaron Nagao (Minnesota) 0.14
    141: Real Woods (Stanford) 0.14
    157: Chase Saldate (Michigan State) 0.19
    285: Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) 0.22
    285: Austin Harris (Oklahoma State) 0.22

    Match Point Differential by Team

    Hendrickson's performance at heavyweight helped Air Force finish with the best match point differential as a team at +0.75. Tournament champion Missouri finished with a +0.50 match point differential, which was the second-highest.

    Top Team Match Point Differentials

    Air Force +0.75
    Minnesota +0.55
    Missouri +0.49
    Northern Iowa +0.49
    North Carolina State +0.27

    Comeback Falls

    As everyone knows, a lead in wrestling is never entirely safe until the match is over. The trailing wrestler can always turn things around with a quick fall. At the Southern Scuffle, six wrestlers were able to collect fall victories despite trailing in the match. None of those victories were as surprising as the one pulled off by Chattanooga's Jackson Hurst. He was trailing Daniel Manibog (Oklahoma State) by a whopping 12-1 score before securing the fall and the victory.

    Come From Behind Falls

    Jackson Hurst (Chattanooga) vs. Daniel Manibog (Oklahoma State) trailing 12-1
    Aaron Ibarra (CSU-Bakersfield) vs. Jake Rotunda (The Citadel) trailing 11-5
    Garrett Joles (Minnesota) vs. Owen Pentz (NDSU) trailing 6-4
    John Mcclimon (Iowa) vs. Mike Wilson (Rider) trailing 3-2
    Cael Carlson (Minnesota) vs. William Formato (App State) trailing 7-6
    David Szuba (Rider) vs. Deonte Wilson (North Carolina State) trailing 4-3

    Highest Scoring Matches

    The highest-scoring match came at 165, where No. 3 Keegan O'Toole (Missouri) just missed out on the technical fall over Devan Hendricks (Bellarmine) and settled for the 26-12 major decision. Hendricks actually scored the first takedown of the match seven seconds in. However, O'Toole then took over, and Hendrick scored nothing but escapes the rest of the way. The Missouri wrestler scored six takedowns in the final period alone, but he needed one more for the technical fall.

    Top Five Highest Scoring Matches

    165: Keegan O'Toole (Missouri) 26-12 major decision over Devin Hendrick (Bellarmine)
    285: David Szuba (Rider) 25-10 technical fall over Peter Ming (Stanford)
    165: Patrick Kennedy (Iowa) 25-10 technical fall over Tyler Kocak (George Mason)
    141: Clay Carlson (SDSU) 25-8 technical fall over Luis Ramos (CSU_Bakersfield)
    125: Drake Ayala (Iowa) 23-7 major decision over Alex Cottey (Chattanooga)

    Match Results by Type

    As one might expect, the heavyweight division produced the most falls in the tournament with 13. It is somewhat interesting that the 125 weight class produced the least regular decisions by a pretty significant margin.

    Most Overtime Matches

    Brayden Palmer (Chattanooga) made a surprising run at 133 for the host school. He finished third, but he certainly had to put in the work. Not only did he wrestle eight matches, which was tied for the most in the tournament, but four of those matches went to overtime. No other wrestler in the tournament went to extra time more than twice.

    Palmer went 3-1 in overtime with victories over Todd Carter (Gardner-Webb), Sean Carter (App State) and Cullan Schriever (Iowa). His only loss of the tournament came against Dom Lajoie (Cornell) in sudden victory. In total, Palmer wrestled for 61 minutes and 18 seconds, which was the most in the tournament.

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