Walsh Leads Navy With Eighth-Place Effort at Southern Scuffle
Jan. 2, 2014
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Returning NCAA qualifier Peyton Walsh (Glen Allen, Va.) placed eighth at 165 pounds to lead the Navy wrestling team to a 25th-place finish at the 2014 Southern Scuffle Thursday evening at McKenzie Arena. Walsh was the only wrestler among the Mids’ 15 competitors to place in a tournament that featured 10 of the top 25 teams in the country, including five of the top 10 and three of the top five.
Top-ranked Penn State came into Thursday’s competition in second place behind Minnesota but just a half point, but the Nittany Lions crushed the field by tournament’s end, posting 189.0 points, 24.5 points better than second-place Oklahoma State (189.0-164.5). Second-ranked Minnesota placed third (161.0), followed by No. 6 Cornell in fourth (114.5) and No. 7 Missouri in fifth (102.5).
Navy, meanwhile, finished two points behind 24th-place Duke (21.5), while holding a three-point advantage over Northern Colorado (16.5).
“Without a doubt there was tough competition here and I saw a number of last year’s All-Americans who didn’t even place here,” said Navy interim head coach Brian Antonelli. “That said, we are nowhere near where we should be midway through the season. We should be much further along than what we showed here the last couple of days. The one positive thing is that we have time to fix some of our weaknesses and the meat of our schedule is ahead.”
Walsh was one of five Navy wrestlers who remained active heading into Thursday. The junior punched his way into Thursday’s quarterfinals by way of a 3-1 upset victory over fourth-seeded and seventh-ranked Michael Moreno of Iowa State. Walsh’s Cinderella run, however, would end with a tough 4-3 loss to sixth-seeded and ninth-ranked Zach Toal of Missouri. Walsh was desperately trying to hold Toal on the mat for the final six seconds which would have sent the match into overtime, but Toal was able to score the go-ahead point as time expired and sent Walsh to the consolation bracket.
Walsh bounced back with a 6-5 win over Stanford’s Jim Wilson, who was seeded 12th, before running out of steam against 10th-seeded Dylan Palacio of Cornell, who dealt Walsh a 5-1 loss. The competition didn’t get any easier for Walsh who faced seventh-seeded Turtogtokh Luvsandorj of The Citadel. Luvsandorj came into the tournament ranked 11th 174 pounds and bounced Walsh in the seventh-place match, 6-4.
“Peyton had a couple of lapses over the course of the tournament and when you wrestle the kind of guys he was facing, it shows up quickly,” said Antonelli. “But overall, Peyton had a solid tournament and beat some very talented kids. He competed hard and was right there battling along the best in his class.”
Senior 174-pound Johnny Watson (Lexington, N.C.), who was a late addition to Navy’s lineup this week, scoring a 9-6 win over Old Dominion’s Billy Curling to begin his day. His day, however, would come to an end with a 10-2 loss to Oklahoma State’s Kyle Crutchmer.
“I was impressed with not only how Johnny reacted to joining the team in Chattanooga late, but how he wrestled,” said Antonelli. “He showed up and flat out battled. He earned a couple of good wins and has shown he’s willing to put the work in.”
Junior 133-pound Colton Rasche (Plano, Ill.), senior 149-pound Alex Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.) and sophomore 157-pound Bobby Burg (Gasport, N.Y.) were all eliminated with losses in their first matches of the day on Thursday.
Navy will send a group to the Franklin & Marshall Open on Saturday before returning to play host to Maryland next Saturday (7:30 pm) in Annapolis.
### Go Navy ###