CHATANOOGA, Tenn. -- No. 1 Penn State (6-0, 1-0 B1G) used its high-octane offensive style to run away from the field at the 2016 Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn. Head coach Cael Sanderson's squad won its sixth straight Southern Scuffle title and crowned five individual champions as well.
Penn State set itself up for a superb evening by dominating the early session Saturday. The Nittany Lions were a perfect 6-0 in semifinal action, including two pins, a major and a win over a top-ranked opponent. The Nittany Lions followed that up with a superb final session, going 5-1 in the championship finals and 3-1 in placing bouts. Penn State won the team title with 183.0 points, out-distancing second place Oklahoma State (158.0) and third place Lehigh (104.5).
Senior All-American Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.), ranked No. 4 at 125, won the 125 pound title to pace Penn State early. Megaludis, who was awarded a forfeit victory overnight when the bracket irregularity was corrected by tournament officials, picked up his 100th career win in the quarterfinals with a 15-5 major over Oklahoma State's Elijah Hale. In the semifinals, he was dominant from the top position, rolling to a 6-3 win over No. 13 Darian Cruz of Lehigh with nearly 3:00 in riding time
The win over Cruz set up a championship bout against No. 5 Eddie Klimara of Oklahoma State. Megaludis countered an early Klimara shot for a first period takedown and a 2-0 lead at the 1:05 mark of the first period. He then rode Klimara out to carry that lead and 1:04 in riding time into the second. Klimara chose down to start the second period and Megaludis controlled the action until the 1:34 mark. Klimara's escape cut the lead to 2-1 but Megaludis quickly too him down again to up his lead to 4-1. Leading by three, Megaludis chose down to start the third period and quickly escaped to a 5-1 advantage. The Lion senior added one more takedown and a riding time point (2:05) to post the dominant 8-1 win. Megaludis went 5-0 with two majors to claim the title, Penn State's first of the night.
Senior All-American Jordan Conaway (Abbottstown, Pa.), ranked No. 6 at 133, reached the 2016 Scuffle finals and ended as the runner-up at 133. Conaway's day began against West Virginia's Keegan Moore. Conaway was up 14-0 when he received an injury default win to move into the semifinals, where he met No. 4 George DiCamillo of Virginia. In that bout, Conaway mounted a furious comeback late, getting two takedowns in the final :30 to grab a thrilling 6-5 win to advance to the finals.
Conaway took on No. 1 Nashon Garrett of Cornell in the finals. Garrett took a 2-0 lead with a fast takedown in the first period and then turned Conaway for two back points and a 4-0 lead after the opening period. Garrett chose down to start the second and quickly escaped to a 5-0 lead. He added two more takedowns and Conaway trailed 9-1 after two. Conaway cut the lead to 9-2 with an escape to start the third period but Garrett continued his offense and posted a 14-4 major. Conaway went 4-1 with one major at the Scuffle to finish as the runner-up at 133.
Sophomore All-American Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.), ranked No. 1 at 149, easily won the 149-9pound Scuffle title. Retherford began the day with a sizzling 22-6 technical fall at the 6:47 mark over Stanford's Paul Fox. He took on No. 8 Matt Cimato of Drexel in the semifinals and hammered Cimato, rolling to a 13-3 major.
Retherford's dominant performance moved him into the finals where he took on North Carolina's Evan Henderson. Retherford connected quickly on a low double, taking a 2-0 lead at the 2:29 mark. He turned the Tar Heel for four back points and led 6-1 at the :40 mark after Henderson escaped. Retherford added another takedown and led 8-1 with 2:18 riding time after one period. He reversed Henderson to start the second period and then added a two point near fall and a four point near fall to post the 16-1 technical fall at the 4:14 mark. Retherford rolled to the 149-pound Scuffle crown with a 5-0 record, including three tech falls, a major and a pin.
Red-shirt freshman Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.), ranked No. 3 at 157, rolled to his first Scuffle title as well. Nolf pinned Chattanooga's Kamaal Shakur (5:45) in the quarterfinals to start his day and then pinned No. 10 Mitch Minotti of Lehigh in the semfinals. Nolf used constant first period pressure to set up a sizzling move late in the first period, taking Minotti down and to his back for a pin at the 2:50 mark.
The fall, Nolf's second straight, moved him into the finals against unattached Oklahoma State freshman Joe Smith. Nolf steadily set his offense up and connected on a high single leg to take a 2-0 lead at the 1:30 mark of the first period. He rode Smith out to lead by two after one, chose down to start the second period and escaped to a 3-0 lead with 1:38 left in the second (he maintained a 1:09 riding time edge). Trailing 3-0, Smith chose down to start the third and escapes to a 3-1 Nolf lead. Smith then quickly took Nolf down, Nolf escaped and led 4-3 with 1:07 riding time in third. Nolf withstood a furious Smith flurry as the match wound down and then iced the bout with a late takedown. The riding time point gave Nolf the thrilling 7-3 win and the 2016 Scuffle title. Nolf went 5-0 with two pins and two tech falls to claim the crown.
Red-shirt freshman Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas), ranked No. 5 at 174, rolled through a crowded field to win his first Southern Scuffle title. Nickal opened up his day with a 4-3 win over No. 11 Michael Ottinger of Central Michigan in the quarterfinals. Nickal then gave notice to the nation with one of the tournament's most dominant performances. Nickal downed previously unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Brian Realbuto of Cornell 14-7, tallying 2:04 riding time in the process.
The thrilling victory moved Nickal into the finals where he met North Carolina's Ethan Ramos. Nickal wasted no time in taking a 2-0 lead, moving through a takedown and then breaking Ramos down on the mat. He added one more takedown in the first period and led 4-2 with 1:18 in riding time after one period. Nickal escaped to a 5-2 lead to start the second period and then took Ramos down one more time to lead 7-3 with 1:55 in time after two. Ramos escaped to start the final period but Nickal countered a shot to extend his lead to 9-4 with another takedown. Nickal gave up one takedown at the :10 mark but with an escape and 2:27 in riding time, posted the dominant 11-7 win. Nickal won the 174-pound title with a 6-0 record, including two tech falls and a major. Nickal was named the 2016 Southern Scuffle Most Outstanding Wrestler for his efforts.
Senior All-American Morgan McIntosh (Santa Ana, Calif.), ranked No. 1 at 197, won his first Southern Scuffle title with a perfect run at 197. McIntosh picked up critical team points by pinning Edinboro's Vincent Pickett at the 4:24 mark in the quarterfinals early in the day. He then dominated No. 8 Jacob Smith of West Virginia in the semifinals. McIntosh opened up a 12-1 first period lead then, after Smith chose down to start the third, locked up a cradle and pinned the Mountaineer at the 5:20 mark to advance to the finals.
He took on No. 5 Brett Pfarr of Minnesota in the finals. McIntosh had a good chance to score as the period ended, connecting on a low single with :40 left. But Pfarr forced a scramble that killed the clock and the bout moved to the second period tied 0-0. McIntosh chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 1-0 lead. The score held through two and Pfarr chose down to start the third. A quick escaped by Pfarr tied the score at 1-1 with 1:35 left to wrestle. McIntosh got in on another low single and Pfarr tried to flee. But McIntosh held firm and finished off the takedown before Pfarr could get out of bounds, taking a 3-1 lead. Pfarr did escape but McIntosh's takedown was the difference in a 3-2 McIntosh victory. McIntosh won the 2016 Scuffle crown with a 5-0 mark, including two pins and a tech and a major.
Junior Zack Beitz (Mifflintown, Pa.) followed up a tough quarterfinal loss to take care of Minnesota's Brandon Kingsley with ease (8-1), advancing to the conso quarters and earning a top eight finish. Beitz stunned No. 8 Luke Smith of Central Michigan in the second period, locking up a cradle from his feet and turning Smith for a pin at the 3:53 mark. The fall moved Beitz into the conso semifinals where he met No. 10 Minotti of Lehigh and dropped a tough 5-3 (sv) decision. The Lion junior wrestled for fifth during the evening session and downed No. 14 Russell Parsons of Army 8-6. Beitz took fifth place with a 6-2 mark, including a tech and a pin.
Junior Geno Morelli (DuBois, Pa.), ranked No. 18 at 165, rebounded from a quarterfinal loss to beat Edinboro's Casey Fuller, advancing to the conso quarters and clinching a place at 165 for the Lions. Morelli met teammate Garett Hammond in the conso quarters and grabbed a hard-fought 2-1 (tb) win. In the consolation semifinals, Morelli received a medical forfeit win over No. 14 George Pickett of Cornell and placed fifth with a 5-2 mark (including a tech fall).
Sophomore Garett Hammond (Chambersburg, Pa.) was impressive in conso rounds four and five as well. Hammond picked up a major and a first period pion (2:44). He then caught Gardner-Webb's Tyler Marinelli in a headlock and pinned him at the 2:15 mark to move into the conso quarters and place. Hammond dropped a tough 2-1 (tb) decision to teammate No. 18 Geno Morelli in the conso quarters, dropping to the seventh place match where he pinned Campbell's Paul Duggan at the 2:49 mark. Hammond took seventh place with a 5-2 record, including three pins and two majors.
Sophomore Kade Moss (South Jordan, Utah) came back from a close quarterfinal loss to the tournament's top seed to beat Michigan State's Javier Gasca 3-2 to advance to the consolation quarterfinals, clinching a place and critical team points. Moss dropped a 9-7 decision to Jared Prince of Navy and dropped to the seventh place bout where he dropped a 9-6 decision to West Virginia's Tony DeAngelo. Moss ended the tourney with a 4-3 record, including a pin, for eighth place.
Red-shirt freshman Shakur Rasheed (Coram, N.Y.) won with ease in consolation rounds four and five, picking up a pin in just :14 in conso 4 and downing No. 16 Jake Faust of Duke 5-2 in conso 5. Rasheed then dropped a 3-1 decision to Lehigh's Ryan Priesch, bowing out of his first Southern Scuffle with a 3-2 mark (including two pins).
The day began with quarterfinal action and Penn State extended its team lead by going 6-3 with two pins, a tech fall, a major and an injury default victory. Sophomore Matt McCutcheon (Apollo, Pa.), ranked No. 13 at 184, who advanced to the quarterfinals on day one, had to medically forfeit out of the tournament after suffering an injury in his last match Friday night. McCutcheon went 2-0 with a pin at the Scuffle.
Junior All-American Jimmy Gulibon (Latrobe, Pa.), ranked No. 6 at 141, went 1-2 and bowed out on day one; red-shirt freshman Kenny Yanovich (Effort, Pa.) went 1-2 at 125 on day one; true freshman Gary Dinmore (Skillman, N.J.) went 2-2 with two majors at 149, wrestling unattached; and true freshman Jan Johnson (Mohnton, Pa.) went 0-2 at 285 on day one.
Penn State posted a gaudy 59-20 overall record, with 59 percent of those victories (35) earning bonus points. The Nittany Lions collected nine majors, 10 tech falls and 13 pins in their title run. Penn State combined to go 23-0 in tech falls and pins, 9-3 in majors and 3-1 in forfeits/injury defaults.
The top-ranked Nittany Lions will hit the road once again next weekend, trekking through Indiana for a Big Ten road swing. The Nittany Lions are at Purdue on Friday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. and then visit Indiana on Sunday, Jan. 10, at 1 p.m. Penn State's next home dual is on Friday, Jan. 15, when it hosts Nebraska at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. With the remaining Rec Hall duals already at seated capacity, a limited number of Standing Room Only tickets (SROs) can be purchased for each of those duals as well. Rec Hall SROs may only be purchased by calling 1-800-NITTANY and are $15 per person. A few limited tickets remain for the second BJC Dual, the Feb. 5 date against Ohio State. Fans can purchase those tickets by calling 1-800-NITTANY as well. BJC Dual tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for students.
Penn State Fans are encouraged to follow Penn State wrestling via twitter at @pennstateWREST, on Penn State Wrestling's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pennstatewrestling and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/pennstatewrest. The 2015-16 Penn State wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline. This is PENN STATE. WRESTLING lives here.
2016 Southern Scuffle - Final Team Standings (Top Five):
January 2, 2016 - McKenzie Arena - Chattanooga, Tenn.
1: PENN STATE - 183.0
2: Oklahoma State - 158.0
3: Lehigh - 104.5
4: Cornell - 98.5
5: North Carolina - 97.5