Dec. 30, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. — With four tournaments and a dual match already in the books this season, NC State comes out of the Christmas break with one last tournament still on the schedule. A 13-man Wolfpack squad will compete this weekend at the Southern Scuffle, held Jan. 1-2, 2012, at McKenzie Arena arena in Chattanooga, Tenn.
With four freshmen and two sophomores in the starting 10-man lineup, NC State is coming off a 19-18 dual-match loss at The Citadel on Dec. 17, a match that ended in a draw and was decided on tie-breaking criteria. That is the Pack’s lone dual match of the season, and the previous four tournaments did not feature team scoring. In addition to providing stiff competition, the Southern Scuffle will feature team standings.
Seniors Quinton Godley (17-6 at 174 pounds), Darrius Little (15-8 at 141) and Colton Palmer (9-5 at 157) lead the Wolfpack into the Southern Scuffle. Godley and Little both have placed in the top eight in all four tournaments the Wolfpack has participated in this season, with Godley winning a pair of individual championships.
“Those three seniors are the backbone of our squad,” Wolfpack head coach Carter Jordan said. “We have a talented team, but we’re young. We need for those three guys to lead us, and they’ve done that. They have a lot of experience between them and they’ve seen a lot. Our youngsters look up to those three, as they should.”
While the seniors have provided leadership on and off the mat, the Wolfpack also has gotten strong performances from sophomore 165-pounder Nijel Jones (15-7) and junior 197-pounder KaRonne Jones (12-8). The most impressive wrestler for NC State so far this season, however, has been freshman 125-pounder Coltin Fought, who is 13-3 with five pins, two second-place finishes and a third-place finish.
Fought has won 10 of his last 11 matches and has a nine-match winning streak under his belt thus far.
“You can’t say enough about how well Coltin has wrestled,” Jordan said. “He’s been the real deal. He’s very talented and competitive, and he’s one of the toughest kids you’ll find. His career is really just starting here and he has work to do just like the rest of our kids, but he has a chance to be a special wrestler for us.”
The Southern Scuffle, in its first season at Chattanooga after a long stay in Greensboro, N.C., is one of the top in-season wrestling tournaments in the country and annually attracts some of the top talent in college wrestling. This year’s tournament is no different.
Of the 22 teams scheduled to appear, 15 are currently ranked in the latest Intermat top 54 rankings, and eight are listed in the NWCA/USA Today Division I coaches top 25. The field includes No. 3 Minnesota, No. 4 Cornell, No. 5 Penn State (the defending national champions), No. 10 Missouri, No. 11 Oregon State, No. 15 Virginia Tech, No. 21 Virginia and No. 25 Hofstra.
Individually, more than a quarter of all the ranked wrestlers in the Intermat rankings will compete at the Southern Scuffle. There are 52 ranked in the current Intermat top 20, including 25 in the top 10. Half of the nation’s No. 1-ranked wrestlers will be in the Scuffle, including Minnesota’s Zach Sanders (125), Penn State’s Frank Molinaro (149) and David Taylor (165), and Cornell’s Kyle Dake (157) and Cam Simaz (197).
Following are NC State’s entrants in the Southern Scuffle:
125 - Coltin Fought (13-3)
133 - Adam Matthews (1-3)
141 - Darrius Little (15-8)
149 - Matt Nereim (10-6) and Thomas Gantt (8-8)
157 - Colton Palmer (9-5)
165 - Nijel Jones (15-7) and Steven Ramos (7-7)
174 - Quinton Godley (17-6)
184 - Robert O’Neill (9-7)
197 - KaRonne Jones (12-8) and Harrison Honeycutt (0-0)
Hwt - Josh Davis (9-9)
“Every tournament is an opportunity to measure yourself against the competition,” Jordan said. “With the competition in this tournament, that opportunity is certainly there. At the same time, we feel that with the schedule we’ve faced so far that we’ve had ample opportunity to improve as a team. I think we’ll get a chance to see that this weekend as well. I expect us to wrestle well. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t. I believe we’re good enough to compete in this field.”
For those wishing to attend the Southern Scuffle, tickets for the event are $15 for adults and $5 for youth under 18 each day. Tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com. Fans who can’t purchase online and still want to get Southern Scuffle tickets before the event can stop by the UT Chattanooga box office or call (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
Doors open to the general public at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1, with action beginning at 10 a.m. Competition begins one hour earlier on the second day with doors opening at 8 a.m. and the wrestling beginning at 9.
The Southern Scuffle will be scored on-line by trackwrestling.com, which will have updated brackets on their website throughout the tournament. The finals will be streamed live on MocsVision on GoMocs.com.