Ohio will look for another strong tournament showing from its 25th ranked team this week when it heads to Chattanooga, Tenn. for the annual Southern Scuffle on Wednesday and Thursday. The Bobcats will be one of 33 teams competing in the tournament.
The Scuffle could be the toughest competition Ohio faces this season with four top-10 ranked teams joining them for the action, including three inside the top four schools. Top-ranked Penn State headlines the event, with No. 2 Minnesota and No. 4 Oklahoma State also sending its top wrestlers. Overall, 34 All-Americans will hit the mats.
It’s stiff competition for an Ohio team that will again be short a few premier guys.
Coach Joel Greenlee said that he intends to rest 133-pound Kagan Squire, 149-pound Tywan Claxton, 157-pound Spartak Chino and 174-pound Cody Walters — three of which rank among the top-20 wrestlers in their respective classes.
The time off stems from minor injuries that coaching staff would like to have healed as much as possible for the duals dual matches the team has scheduled in January.
Despite the tough luck, there is still excitement from the Bobcats about the opportunity to compete in such a challenging tournament.
“We’ve got a couple of guys beat up that we’re not going to wrestle, but it is what it is,” Greenlee said. “For the rest of our guys, it’s an opportunity to get some experience. It’s good for the top-ranked guys on our team to see that kind of competition and let us coaches kind of nod our heads and say, ‘Yeah, we’re doing the right things.’”
A couple of wrestlers to watch for Ohio will once again be No. 13 Phil Wellington (17-1) in the 197-pound with class and No. 11 Jeremy Johnson (17-2), a heavywright.
Wellington’s class features the top three 197-pounders in the country, along with Missouri’s No. 14 J’Den Cox, who Wellington defeated earlier this season.
Johnson’s division doesn’t have quite the density at the top of the rankings as the Wellington’s, but still features Minnesota’s No. 1 Tony Nelson (13-0) and North Carolina State’s Nick Gwiazdowski (18-1). No. 18 Amar Dhesi of Oregon State, who fell to Johnson in the finals of last week’s Tournament of Champions, will also compete in the tournament.
The Scuffle is be the last tournament action the Bobcats will see until the Mid-American Conference Championships in March, as the rest of the schedule will be filled with duals matches. Ohio’s best finish of the season is a fourth-place finish last week, while Wellington and Johnson have combined to win four tournament titles.