Dean, Photo by BV
Two-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth of Penn State hadn't lost a match since his freshman season - until Thursday night. Cornell rookie Gabe Dean did what many thought couldn't be done when he topped the Nittany Lion 7-4 to capture the Southern Scuffle at 184 pounds.
Dean, the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler, won five matches on his way to the title bout, topping eventual fourth placer Brett Pfarr before beating multi-time All-American Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota in the semis.
In the finals, he came out firing, drawing first blood with a takedown in the first period. The opening stanza ended tied at 3. In the second, Dean picked up a stalling point and an escape, although Ruth amassed over a minute of riding time.
So, they headed into the final period with the freshman leading 5-3. Dean erased advantage time before Ruth got free to make it 5-4, but it was Dean who kept up the pressure, notching another takedown for the final 7-4 margin.
For our article on Gabe Dean from December, see here.
That was the first of two championship showdowns between Penn State and Cornell. Earlier in the evening, Nahshon Garrett, the newly anointed #1 wrestler in the nation at 125 pounds (by some sites), defeated two-time NCAA finalist Nico Megaludis for the second time this season in a 6-4 decision.
Garrett began the tournament with a technical fall and then recorded two major decisions before controlling his 7-3 semifinals victory over David Terao of American.
Cornell featured four other medalists. Freshmen Brian Realbuto (157) and Dylan Palacio (165) both made the podium, with fifth and sixth place showings, respectively. Realbuto beat nationally-ranked RJ Pena and pushed top seeded Alex Dieringer to the limit before dropping a 7-6 decision on riding time. Palacio, the ninth seed, went 5-1 in contested matches (with the loss to #1 David Taylor of Penn State) before medically forfeiting out of the tournament.
Chris Villalonga earned a berth in the semis before defaulting to sixth place at 149, while Jace Bennett nabbed seventh after entering the event unseeded.
Hofstra put a pair of wrestlers on the medal stand, with Joe Booth leading the way with a fifth place performance at 165 after going 6-2. Luke Vaith made his way to the 141-pound seventh place bout before he and Zach Horan of Central Michigan double forfeited.
Former NYS high school champion Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State won his first four contests to make the title bout against two-time NCAA champion Tony Nelson of Minnesota, where he was edged 1-0 by the Gopher.
That one-point heavyweight match ended a memorable Scuffle, with some victories that will be talked about for a long time.
For full results, see www.trackwrestling.com.