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Southern Scuffle Blog: Day One

December 29, 2009
|  Greensboro, N.C.
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A view from inside the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center, the site of this year's Southern Scuffle.

A view from inside the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center, the site of this year's Southern Scuffle.

Following a 16-day break from the wrestling mats, the Liberty Flames return to action today inside the Greensboro Coliseum in the seventh annual Southern Scuffle.

LibertyFlames.com will be live on site for both days' action, reporting mat side with a live blog as Liberty participates in its final regular season tournament of the year.

As we have done with our online blogs in times past, please feel free to email questions or comments to twetmore@liberty.edu and as time allows, we will try to answer/address them.

The most recent posts will be located just below this italicized message. You may need to refresh the page periodically to view the latest updates.

6:45 p.m. – LibertyFlames.com will be back inside the Special Events Center at the Greensboro Coliseum tomorrow to provide final day coverage of the Southern Scuffle. The live blog, which will begin are approximately 9 a.m., will continue to update fans until the final Liberty grappler completes their run at this year's Scuffle. Below is a complete schedule of events for tomorrow's action:

Wednesday, December 30 - Southern Scuffle Schedule:
9 a.m. - Quarterfinals & 4th Round of Wrestle-backs
10:30 a.m. - Fifth Round of Wrestle-backs
11:30 a.m. - Semifinals & 6th Round of Wrestle-backs
1 p.m. - Seventh Round of Wrestle-backs
2 p.m. - Medal Rounds (3rd-8th)
5:30 p.m. - Championship Finals

6:42 p.m. – Be sure to check back on LibertyFlames.com for a complete recap of the first day of action at today's Southern Scuffle, including the final team standings after the third round of wrestleback bouts has concluded.

6:38 p.m. – Josh Pelletier's loss at heavyweight is going to bring to a close LibertyFlames.com blog coverage of the first day of the Southern Scuffle. As the day continues to wind down, Liberty finds itself in 13th place with 34.0 points, ranking one point head of No. 23 Old Dominion (33.0 points). No. 8 Cornell and No. 18 Virginia are still leading the 30-team field, as Big Red is atop the standings with 61.5 points, while the Cavaliers are in second with 56.0 points. A strong final session has kept No. 5 Minnesota in the hunt for the team title, as the currently stand with 53.5 points.

Team Standings:
1. Cornell – 61.5 points
2. Virginia – 56.0 points
3. Minnesota – 53.5 points
4. Bloomsburg – 46.5 points
5. Edinboro – 46.0 point
13. Liberty – 34.0 points

6:30 p.m. – Liberty will only have one grappler wrestling for an individual title tomorrow, as Josh Pelletier became the third Flame to fall in the Championship Round of 16. In a near mirror match of his previous match roughly four hours earlier, Pelletier and Cornell's Joshua Arone, ranked No. 16 at heavyweight, circled the mats to a scoreless tie for the three minutes of action. Pelletier choose down to start the second and Arone was able to control Liberty's junior the entire two minutes to pick up a key riding time advantage. Pelletier tried to keep Arone in check during the third period to negate the riding time edge, but the heavyweight quickly spilled away from Pelletier for an escape point 16 seconds in the final period. Neither grappler could muster much during the waning seconds of the match, which eventually resulted in a 2-0 decision victory for Cornell's nationally ranked heavyweight.

6:05 p.m. – The P.A. announces is called the first bouts of the final session for Tuesday (third round of the wrestlebacks), as we creep closer to the conclusion of the first 600 bouts of this year's Southern Scuffle. Liberty has just over half its grapplers remaining in the field, with two in the championship round (Frankie Gayeski, who has already advanced to the quarterfinals … and Josh Pelletier, who is warming up for his Round of 16 bout). The remaining nine grapplers are staying alive in the wrestleback bracket, earning Liberty valuable team points

5:51 p.m. – The Tar Heels continue to be tough on the Flames, this time knocking another Liberty grappler out of the event. At 184 pounds, Nick Knowles fell behind early to North Carolina's Nick Tenpenny, but remained close into the third period. With Tenpenny clinching to a 9-5 lead, the Tar Heel grappler scored a late takedown and added 1:39 minutes of riding time to defeat Knowles, 12-5, and end the junior's day with a 1-2 record at this year's Southern Scuffle.

5:30 p.m. – The team standings as of 5:19 p.m. show that Liberty has picked up another two points and is maintaining its 11th-place standing. However, Commonwealth foe and No. 23 ranked Old Dominion has started to climb up the standings, as the Monarchs now are tied with the Flames with 30.0 points. Cornell now holds an one-point lead over Virginia, as Big Red leads the field with 52.5 points, followed by the Cavaliers' 51.50 points.

Team Standings:
1. Cornell – 52.5 points
2. Virginia – 51.5 points
3. Minnesota – 45 points
4. Army – 40.5 points
5. Bloomsburg – 35.50 points
11. Liberty – 30.0 points

5:24 p.m. – Just moments after Shaun Smith fell on Mat 6, another Liberty team captain was able to pick up a victory over on Mat 1, as Chad Porter continued to advance in the wrestleback bracket with a 10-0 major decision win at 165 pounds. Takedowns by Porter in the first and another near the scores table in the second allowed the junior to open up a 4-0 lead after five minutes of action. Midway through the final two minutes, Porter put a move on Navy's Mason Bailey to record his third takedown with three near-fall points. Adding 3:11 of riding time advantage allowed Porter to pick up his 80th career victory in a Liberty singlet, giving the 165-pounder a 10-0 major decision win.

5:11 p.m. – Liberty had another of its championship round grapplers fall to the consolation bracket, as Shaun Smith dropped a 5-0 decision to North Carolina's Thomas Scotten at 157 pounds. Nearly 40 seconds into the bout, the Carolina blue clad grappler scored a two-point takedown to gain an early advantage. With the wrestlers starting in the neutral position for period two, Scotten scored another takedown late in the period, as he got a hold of Smith's left ankle and was able to take Liberty's senior captain down to the mat. Neither grappler was able to do much during the final two minutes of action, allowing Scotten to add an additional point because of 3:47 of riding time to secure the 5-0 win and advance to tomorrow's quarterfinals.

5:01 p.m. – A quick look at the team standings show that a strong push by Cornell has put Big Red on top. Recent wins by Cornell have pushed the program to the top of the team standings with 51 points, which Virginia ranking behind them in second with 49.50 points. Liberty still stands in 11th place with 28.0 points

Team Standings
1. Cornell – 51.0 points
2. Virginia – 49.5 points
3. Minnesota – 40.0 points
4. Army – 36.0 points
5. Edinboro – 34.5 points
11. Liberty – 28 points

4:45 p.m. – Make it 14 in a row for Frankie Gayeski, as the senior advances to tomorrow's quarterfinal round with a 14-3 major decision victory over Virginia's Kellon Balum in the Championship Round of 16. Gayeski's second first-period takedown came with three near-fall points to give the senior a 7-1 edge after three minutes of action. A second two-point takedown with three near-fall points in the middle period allowed Gayeski to widen his lead to 14-3 heading into the final two minutes of action. Gayeski began the final period down on the mat and could not escape the grasps of the Cavalier wrestlers, erasing his riding time advantage, but giving Gayeski his 14th win in a row and up his record to 16-2 on the year.

4:28 p.m. – Joe Pantaleo continued to battle his way back in the consolation bracket, picking up an 8-1 victory over N.C. State's Scott Norris. Liberty's 133-pounder scored the only points of the first period with an early takedown and held a 5-0 lead after five minutes thanks to an early second-period escape and a second takedown. Norris tried to escape early in the third period, but Pantaleo was able to keep control the Wolfpack grappler, which eventually helped him finish the match with 2:12 of riding time to secure the 8-1 victory and remain alive in the wrestleback bracket.

4:17 p.m. – Liberty's victories in the wrestleback bracket have helped the Flames move back up the team standings. The Flames currently are in sole possession of 11th place with 27.5 points, which is a half a point ahead of Navy (27.0 points) and two points ahead of Michigan. Some recent victories by the Big Red have helped Cornell close the gap between them and Virginia, as the Cavaliers now lead the field of 30-teams with 44.0 points over Cornell's 40.0 points.

Team Standings
1. Virginia – 44.0 points
2. Cornell – 40.0 points
3. Minnesota – 34.0 points
4. Bloomsburg – 33.0 points
5. Edinboro – 32.5 points
11. Liberty – 27.5 points

4:08 p.m. – The Championship Round of 16 began at roughly 3:45 p.m. and 25 minutes into the round Liberty's Justin Braham found himself in the featured bout on Mat 6 against Cornell's Troy Nickerson. The defending national champion at 125 pounds was only wrestling for the second time during the 2009-10 season, but the senior showed no signs of being rusty, as he quickly gave Liberty's freshman some experience against one of the nation's best. Following a series of five takedowns by Nickerson and escapes by Brahman, the Big Red grappler took Liberty's 125-pound down to the mat for the sixth time in the first period and was able to finish the bout with a pin at 1:45 into the matchup.

3:45 p.m. – Keeping things rolling for the Flames was a dominating performance by Nick Knowles at 184 pounds. The junior picked up an early two-point takedown and never looked back, securing a 14-0 blanking of N.C. State's John Becker to advance in the wrestleback bracket.

3:32 p.m. – Chad Porter picked up the 79th victory of his three-year career at Liberty, but the junior's first career win at the Southern Scuffle with a 2-0 decision at 165 pounds. With a sweeping spin move to his left, Porter took down Appalachian State's Kyle Blevins 40 seconds in the bout, resulting in the only points awarded during the seven-minute bout. Neither wrestler could gain any significant advance during the rest of the match, allowing Porter to capture the 2-0 win.

3:15 p.m. – The Flames continue to scrap their way back in the wrestleback bracket, as Joseph Bayer just won a 7-6 battle over Air Force's Zaquerray. The 157-pound bout was a back-and-forth battle, until Bayer flipped Zaquerray for a two-point takedown with the final period clock winding down to secure the victory and stave off elimination from the event.

2:58 p.m. – Joe Pantaleo gave Liberty's 16 remaining wrestleback wrestlers some hope, as the 133-pounder opening his consolation bracket with a hard-fought 1-0 decision victory over Indiana's Matt Ortega to begin the first round of wrestleback bouts.

2:41 p.m. – Liberty still has four grapplers remaining in the championship brackets, as Justin Braham (125 pounds), Frankie Gayeski (149 pounds), Shaun Smith (157 pounds) and Josh Pelletier (285 pounds) all still have a chance to capture and individual title in their weight class. Braham will have the toughest matchup in the Round of 16, as the freshman has drawn Cornell's Troy Nickerson, who is the defending national champion at 125 pounds and is ranked No. 1 in the country in Bout 372 of the day.

2:39 p.m. – Following the conclusion of the "32-man championship" round, Liberty has dropped from seventh place to 14th place in the team standings. Through two rounds of competition, Liberty has amassed 17 team points and is tied in the team standings with Penn. No. 18 Virginia (42.5 points) was able to break its tie with No. 8 Cornell (37.0 points) to take a slight lead after two rounds of competition.

2:21 p.m. – Rounding out action for Liberty in the upper weight classes was Josh Pelletier, who was able to give Liberty a victory with a 2-0 decision over Appalachian State's Kenneth Altarac. After the two heavyweights felt each other out during the opening three minutes of action, Pelletier kept Altarac in check during the second period after he choose down, giving Liberty's junior a two minutes riding time advantage. Pelletier started the final period out in the down position and 13 seconds into the period Altarac let Pelletier's right leg slip away, giving Liberty wrestler an escape point. Neither grappler was able to do much the remainder of the period, allowing Pelletier to take the 2-0 win thanks to the escape point and the 1:47 riding time edge.

2:10 p.m. – With wrestlers on Mats 5 and 8, Liberty looked to end its recent winless streak as Jacobi Johnson and Andrew Wilson took to the mats. However, the bouts which were took place simultaneously, nearly mirrored each other point for point. An aggressive Johnson was at a 0-0 stalemate with George Mason's William Widemer after three minutes, but the Patriots 197-pounder scored four points with a reversal and a takedown in the second, while adding a second takedown in the third to secure a 6-3 decision over Johnson. Wilson followed suit with Johnson, scoring all three of his points with three escapes, as he dropped a 5-3 decision to UNC Greensboro's Peter Sturgeon in a heavyweight matchup. Wilson pulled within two of the Spartan grappler with his third escape early in the final period, but Sturgeon was able to fend off several attempted attacks from Wilson to secure the two-point victory.

1:53 p.m. – Liberty just suffered another shutout loss, as Nick Knowles dropped his opening bout of the day to Indiana's Eric Cameron. The redshirt junior, who won earlier in the day in overtime over Minnesota's Kaleb Young, moved to 13-4 on the season with a 5-0 decision over Knowles to advance to the Round of 16 at 184 pounds. Action will remain on Mat 5 for the Flames in two bouts, as Jacobi Johnson will open his run at the Southern Scuffle against George Mason's William Widener at 197 pounds, while heavyweight Andrew Wilson will be taking on hometown favorite Peter Sturgeon of UNC Greensboro on Mat 8.

1:35 p.m. – Following an opening round 8-5 victory at 174 pounds, Brad Clark suffered an 8-0 major decision loss to Michigan's Justin Zeerip. The Wolverines grappler, who is ranked No. 19 nationally in the weight class, was able to control the pace throughout the bout, beginning with an early takedown in the first period. After choosing down to begin the second, Zeerip slowly was able to escape the grasp of Clark for a third point, while adding another takedown before the period ended. Zeerip followed suit during the final two minutes of action, adding three points with an escape and a third takedown to secure the 8-0 victory over Clark and dropping Liberty's 174-pounder into the wrestlerback bracket.

1:11 p.m. – As previously mentioned, Seth Hick won his first collegiate match with a pin at 141 pounds. Hicks is not the only wrestler making his collegiate debut at the Southern Scuffle, as he is joined by Joel Stafford (125 pounds), Joseph Bayer (157 pounds), Neil McGuire (165 pounds) and Antonio Talley (174 pounds) at college wrestling newcomers. Stafford joined Hicks as an early victor, winning his bout by a 10-7 decision, while Bayer suffered a 15-7 setback to Virginia's Eugene Riley. McGuire and Talley have yet to take the mats; however, Talley's name was just called over the P.A. system, as he is warming up for his bout with Indiana's Trevor Perry.

12:59 p.m. – Of the wrestlers who will count toward Liberty's team score at this year's Southern Scuffle, here are some of the highlighted victories from the opening round. Scott Clymer took a 13-7 decision at 141 pounds, Frankie Gayeski won by major decision at 149 pounds, Shaun Smith advanced with a 5-2 decision at 157 pounds and Brad Clark picked up an 8-5 decision win at 174 pounds. For Gayeski, the senior captain reeled off his 12th-straight victory, picked up a dominating 10-1 victory over homestanding Alejandro Soto of UNC Greensboro. Liberty did suffer a key loss early in the championship bracket, as captain Chad Porter lost a tough 5-2 decision to Penn's Tom Timothy at 165 pounds, which was the junior's third-straight loss at the Southern Scuffle.

12:47 p.m. – Here are some of your early victors for the Flames during the opening round. Completing unattached for Liberty, Joel Stafford picked up a 10-7 decision at 125 pounds, Seth Hicks won by fall at 141 pounds and Julian Colon captured an 8-5 decision win at 165 pounds. For Hicks, it was the Backersville, Calif., native's first collegiate victory, as he pinned Indiana's Daniel Monaco to the mats at the 5:55 mark of his bout.

12:35 p.m. – The posted results as of 12:32 p.m. have the Flames in a two-way tie with Michigan for seventh place with 13 points. Liberty has 12 wrestlers still alive in the championship brackets, while eight grapplers will have to scrap their way back in the wrestleback division. No. 8 Cornell and No. 18 Virginia currently lead the 30-team field with 19 points, followed by Cal State Bakersfield with 18.5 points in third place. With their 13 points, Liberty currently ranks ahead of No. 5 Minnesota (ninth place, 12.0 points), No. 13 Indiana (11th place, 11.0 points) and No. 23 Old Dominion (11th place, 11.0 points).

12:12 p.m. – Just as a reminder, if you want to catch some live video action from this year's Southern Scuffle, you can view the action via Spartan All Access, provided by UNC Greensboro (who is hosting this event). Fans can purchase a complete tournament package for $19.95, which will include all three sessions. Session 1, featuring all of Tuesday's action, and Session 2, which features Wednesday's action up to the championship round, can be purchased for $9.95 each. Session 3, featuring only the championship matches on Wednesday evening, will be available for $7.95. For more information on Spartan All Access, please click here.

11:55 a.m. – The 64-man championship round is in the books. Once results are finalized, we will post some updates on how Liberty's wrestlers preformed earlier this morning.

11:22 a.m. – The 64-man championship round is just finishing up … just as a reminder, below is a copy of today's schedule of events

Today's Schedule:
10 a.m. - 64-man Championship (10 mats - 500 wrestlers)
11:30 a.m. - 32-man Championship
1:45 p.m. - First Round of Wrestle-backs
3:45 p.m. - 16-man Championship & 2nd Round of Wrestle-backs
6 p.m. - Third Round of Wrestle-backs

11:20 a.m. – This year's Southern Scuffle field includes another star-studded list of teams, as seven Top 25 programs have made the trek to Greensboro, N.C., while more than 50 individual nationally ranked grapplers will be circling the mats over the next two days. Below is a complete list of teams and nationally ranked individuals.

2009 UNCG Southern Scuffle Tournament Field
Air Force
Appalachian State
Boston University
Cal State Bakersfield
The Citadel
No. 8 Cornell
No. 20 Edinboro
George Mason
No. 13 Indiana
No. 19 Kent State
Lock Haven
No. 5 Minnesota
North Carolina
North Carolina State
No. 23 Old Dominion
Sacred Heart
UNC Greensboro
No. 18 Virginia

Individuals ranked in the latest InterMat rankings:
125 Pounds:
1. Troy Nickerson - Cornell
2. Angel Escobedo - Indiana
4. Zach Sanders - Minnesota
5. James Nicholson - Old Dominion
6. Jarrod Garnett - Virginia Tech
7. Eric Morrill - Edinboro

133 Pounds:
2. Jayson Ness - Minnesota
10. Mike Grey - Cornell
11. Danny Mitcheff - Kent State
15. Kyle Hutter - Old Dominion

141 Pounds:
5. Kyle Dake - Cornell
6. Mike Thorn - Minnesota

149 Pounds:
9. Mario Mason - Minnesota
10. Matt Kyler - Army
11. Matt Cathell - Kent State
20. Nick Stabile - North Carolina

157 Pounds:
4. Matt Moley - Bloomsburg
9. Kurt Kinser - Indiana
12. Jake Deitchler - Minnesota
14. Bryce Saddoris - Navy
16. Danny Gonsor - Virginia
19. Jonny Bonilla-Bowman - Hofstra

165 Pounds:
1. Jarrod King - Edinboro
4. Dustin Schlatter - Minnesota
10. Justin Kerber - Cornell
11. Chris Brown - Old Dominion
14. Paul Young - Indiana
17. P.J. Gillespie - Hofstra
19. Rick Schmelyun - Bloomsburg

174 Pounds:
1. Mack Lewness - Cornell
4. Chris Henrich - Virginia
10. Ryan Patrovich - Hofstra
13. Luke Rebertus - Navy
18. Scott Griffin - Pennsylvania
19. Justin Zeerip - Michigan

184 Pounds:
3. Dustin Kilgore - Kent State
16. Steve Bosak - Cornell
17. John Barone - Duke
18. Sonny Yohn - Minnesota
20. Ben Clymer - Hofstra

197 Pounds:
5. Anthony Biondo - Michigan
6. Cam Simaz - Cornell
11. Brent Jones - Virginia
14. Jesse Strawn - Old Dominion
15. Dennis Drury - North Carolina
16. Richard Starks - Army

285 Pounds:
1. Konrad Dudziak - Duke
6. Nathan Everhart - Indiana
10. Mitch Monteiro - Cal State Bakersfield
11. Ben Berhow - Minnesota
14. Chris Birchler - Edinboro
16. Josh Arnone - Cornell
19. Brendan Barlow - Kent State