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Rob Koll Recaps the Southern Scuffle for the Big Red

By Rob Koll, 01/07/14, 7:45PM EST


Garrett, Photo by BV

The following is Cornell head coach Rob Koll's look back at the Southern Scuffle.  The Big Red took fourth as a team, and had two very memorable championship performances with freshman Gabe Dean defeating two-time NCAA champ Ed Ruth and Nahshon Garrett topping two-time NCAA finalist Nico Megaludis for the second time this season.


Southern Scuffle Update
The team returned from the break on the 27th so that we could get a couple practices in before traveling to Chattanooga, TN for the Southern Scuffle on January 1-2.  The Scuffle has turned into a brutally tough tournament.  It is a great opportunity for our guys to hit some of the country’s top wrestlers.  Although I love the competition, I do believe the tournament is too large to be held on two days, at least at this point in the season.  The goal is to get the NCAA to allow UTC to extend the event to a three-day tournament.  This would make it much more civilized to the athletes and spectators alike. 
We came out of the meat grinder a little banged up but healthy for the most part.  I generally don’t like to pull wrestlers from a competition because I believe it is good training for the NCAA championships. However, I made a few exceptions this year because we had a few preexisting conditions that I felt could set a few guys back for an extended period of time.  We also have the Lehigh Mountain Vultures coming to town on Sunday and we need to field a complete and healthy team so that we can send them back to their nest, beaten and battered!  Lehigh has a nice team and it should be a great match.  I hope many of you will make it back to Ithaca on Sunday at 2:00.
On to my update.
I woke up last Thursday to the following text message from Nahshon Garrett.  “Hello coaches have been at the hospital since 9. They ran some tests and I have strep throat. They have given me antibiotics for it, but have let me know I cannot wrestle this coming weekend. I have not exchanged my ticket yet but do you guys still want me traveling Friday, or should I exchange my ticket to Ithaca for Jan 4th. Again there is no chance of my wrestling in the tournament. Call me tomorrow and we can chat.”  Response: “Nahshon, great to hear from you.  Hope you enjoyed your break, see you on Friday.”  Now before you turn me in to the Child Protection Agency, remember the tournament didn’t even start until Wednesday!  And by Thursday Nahshon had cruised to his first Southern Scuffle championship.  In his finals match, the sickly Garrett controlled 2X NCAA runner-up Nico Megaludis.  As a result of his tournament results I have instructed all Cornell wrestlers to share Nahshon’s toothbrush. 
Bricker Dixon 2-2 DNP.  Bricker had to medically default out of the tournament.  He was winning at the time but injured his ribs and was unable to continue.  We don’t expect his injury to keep him out too long but ribs can be terribly painful.
Logan David 1-2 DNP
Mark Grey was injured at Las Vegas and we elected to keep him home.
Mike Nevinger 2-0 DNP.  We are slowly working Mike back into lineup.  He will be ready for Lehigh.
Chris Villalonga 3-0, 6th. Chris took a finger to the eye in the quarterfinals and was not able to wrestle in the semifinals.  To Chris’s credit he wanted to wrestle but we could not tell how serious his injury was and he had difficulty seeing at the time.  His prognosis is very positive and we expect he will be cleared to compete this weekend.
Brian Realbuto 4-2 5th place.  Brian lost a tight 6-7 match in the semifinals.  Brian got off to a slow start and like many of the guys has been struggling with sickness.  That is no excuse and will not give him any points at the NCAA tournament so he needs to learn to compete more effectively when not 100 percent.  Of course there is no other or better way of preparing for such scenarios than wrestling when sick, therefore mission accomplished!
Taylor Simaz 1-2 DNP
Dylan Palacio 5-1, 6th. Dylan had six very tough matches against great competition.  Dylan gives just about everything he has every time he wrestles and as a result he was pretty battered.  Had this been the national tournament, he would have wrestled but we need him to be ready for this weekend and he is nursing a few lingering injuries as it is. 
Marshall Peppelman 2-2 DNP
Duke Pickett 4-2 DNP
Jesse Shanaman 2-2 DNP
Gabe Dean 6-0, 1st. Unless you have been living under a log you’ve undoubtedly heard about Gabe Dean’s Southern Scuffle championship victory over 2X NCAA champion Ed Ruth.  No one other than Cornell insiders will believe me when I say we believed Gabe could defeat Ruth.  As a matter of fact, last week I decided to lather my body in Bengay and personally give Gabe a good old fashioned “Koll-whoopin”.  I am proud to say I made it through the first three minutes tied at 0-0. Of course I did tie my shoes twice, and had two blood timeouts during those three very long minutes, but that’s a coach's prerogative.  After the next four minutes, I was 100 percent certain that Gabe could win a national title this year.  Now I know throttling a 48 year old man might not sound that impressive, but I assure you the beating I took for the sake of pride and stupidity was truly impressive.  If I had a video of the onslaught, I would send it to the AARP so they could press criminal charges.  What is most impressive is the fact that I could defeat Gabe less than a year ago.  With that in mind you can imagine how excited we are for his future.  He grows discernibly more confident and skilled at every practice.   
Billy George 1-2 DNP
Jace Bennett 4-2, 7th.  Throughout Jace’s Cornell career he has consistently wrestled better as the season progresses.  This year is no different.  I am also pleased with a small adjustment Jace made on his feet.  He has added a misdirection shot to his straight ahead single. 
Steve Congenie 1-2 DNP
Jacob Aiken-Phillips 4-2 DNP.  JAP wrestled well in winning four matches.  JAP is an athletic, but undersized 285 pounder.  He showed a great deal of potential but needs to keep his weight on.  Last year he lost twenty-five pounds from the beginning to the end of the season.  We will be adding a feeding station next to our bench press to help alleviate this problem.
Stryker Lane 0-2 DNP