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Five Mids Advance, Walsh Vying For Championship at Southern Scuffle

18th-ranked Colton Rasche is one of the five Navy wrestlers who will return to the mat on Thursday.

18th-ranked Colton Rasche is one of the five Navy wrestlers who will return to the mat on Thursday.

Jan. 1, 2014

2014 Southern Scuffle - Opening-Day Results

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. —  Five of Navy’s 15 tournament entrants remain active after day one of the two-day Southern Scuffle held at McKenzie Arena on Wednesday, including junior 165-pound Peyton Walsh (Glen Allen, Va.) who is the Mids’ lone wrestler active on the championship side of the bracket.

One of the most prestigious tournaments held on an annual basis, this year’s tournament features 10 of the top 25 teams in the country, including five of the top 10 and three of the top five.  Atop the leader board is second-ranked Minnesota, who holds a narrow half-point lead over the nation’s top-ranked program Penn State, 53.5 - 53.0.  Meanwhile, No. 5 Oklahoma State sits in third with 50.5 points, followed by No. 6 Cornell (40.0) in fourth and No. 17 Iowa State (39.5) in fifth.  The Mids tallied 15.5 points to close out the day’s action in 23rd place among the 34-team field.  Navy trails 22nd-place Hofstra by just a half point, while holding a 3.0 advantage over NC State.

“We had a good week of practice leading up to the tournament, but obviously today wasn’t our best day on the mat,” said interim head coach Brian Antonelli.  “We had some strong individual performances, but as a team, we did not put forth our best effort and we need to get that fixed quickly.”

One of those individuals who did shine for the Mids was returning NCAA qualifier Peyton Walsh.  Walsh, who entered the tournament unseeded, received an opening-round bye before scoring a 9-3 decision over North Carolina’s John Staudenmayer, 9-3.  He punched his way into the quarterfinals by way of a 3-1 upset victory over fourth-seeded and seventh-ranked Michael Moreno of Iowa State.  It was Walsh’s first victory over a ranked wrestler this season and just the second of his career.  He will face sixth-seeded and ninth-ranked Zach Toal of Missouri in the quarterfinals on Thursday morning.  A win would set up a semifinal match against the winner of the David Taylor (Penn State) vs. Dylan Palacio (Cornell) match.  Taylor is the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the country and is undefeated.

“Peyton’s win over Moreno on paper was probably the biggest win of his career,” said Antonelli.  “He wrestled a returning All-American tough and came out on top.  I was really proud of how he fought.”

In addition to Walsh, four Navy wrestlers remain active in the consolation bracket of their respective weight classes, including junior Colton Rasche (Plano, Ill.) at 133 pounds.  Seeded ninth and ranked 18th nationally, Rasche picked up a 10-3 decision over Drexel’s Kevin Devoy and a 4-0 victory over Cleveland State’s Dan King to open the day.  Rasche, however, suffered a 3-1 setback in his third-round bout against eighth-seeded and 16th-ranked Mac McGuire of Kent State.  Rasche will face Iowa State’s Dakota Bauer Thursday morning as he makes his way through the consolation bracket.

Senior Alex Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.) was one of two Navy wrestlers entered at 149 pounds that received a seed.  Senior Raymond Borja (Virginia Beach, Va.), who recently returned from injury, was awarded the eighth seed, but was upset in the second round by Cullen Cummings of Ohio, 5-1, and fell out of the tournament with a second loss later in the day.  Johnson, the 11th seed, will face Iowa State’s Luke Goettl on Thursday morning after putting together a 2-1 mark on the first day.  Johnson turned in a 3-2 victory over Duke’s Connor Bass in the opener and followed up with a win by fall (4:18) over Minnesota’s Thomas Giamo.  Johnson, however, was pinned by sixth-seeded and 13th-ranked Gus Sako of Virginia to send him to the consolation bracket.

After dropping his first match of the day to Oregon State’s R.J. Pena, seeded fifth and ranked eighth, sophomore Bobby Burg (Gasport, N.Y.) regrouped to win two in a row in the 157-pound consolation bracket.  Burg battle back to take an 8-4 win over Paul Duggan of Campbell and turned in a hard-fought victory over Austin Sommer of Drexel.  Burg will face 10th-seeded thomas Gantt of NC State in Thursday’s opening match.

Senior Johnny Watson (Lexington, N.C.) will face Old Dominion’s Billy Curling Thursday morning as he makes his way through the 174-pound consolation bracket.  Watson dropped a 6-0 decision to Iowa State’s Lelun Weatherspoon, seeded 10th, in Wednesday’s opener.  Watson came back to score a 4-3 decision over Army’s Brian Harvey and followed up with a 9-2 victory over Chattanooga’s Barrett Walthall.

“Johhny’s win over Harvey was big,” added Antonelli.  “He flat out gutted it out and rode out Harvey in the last period to get the win.  He wasn’t even supposed to wrestle in the tournament, but Mat is still sidelined with an injury so he came out here at the beginning of the week and has been sharp.”

Action resumes Thursday morning beginning at 9 and can be followed live via www.TrackWrestling.com(.)

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