The final weight class of the Southern Scuffle, which will in turn also be the final weight class of a weekend full of three tough in-season Division I tournaments. Coincidentally enough as 197 featured a likely *1 Rocky Elam, HWT's likely *1 seed will also be an Elam, Zach. If both Rocky & Zach were to win Scuffle titles this season, it'd be the second time brothers were to win the tournament in the same season. Believe it or not, the only other time this happened, both wrestlers also competed for Missouri! It was Ben & Max Askren!
*NOTE* - Caught wind that Iowa State will not be sending starters to the Scuffle after I posted my 197 lbs preview. Therefore I cut out the part I had written up about Sam Schuyler.
When I originally starting thinking about this season's Southern Scuffle HWT class, I immediately thought we might get to see battle four between Zach Elam & Sam Schuyler. The Tiger owns both a 6:02 fall & a 6-1 decision, as the Cyclone owns a 3-1 decision. Yet much to my disappointment, I've been informed Schuyler won't be here. Therefore I think it'll be all Tiger without much challenge. He also owns a 5-3 victory over Juan Mora.
Here's what I wrote when I accidentally put Jaron Smith at 197....
"The only thing more unorthodox and wild than Jaron Smith's hair is his wrestling style. This guy likes to go for big moves & can put you on your back when you least expect it. Now that he's finally wrestling a season injury-free, with all the rust shaken off, we're getting to see the Terrapin at his best. This is a tough weight class, but he is favored to medal. "
Now that I've reminded myself that he's up at HWT this season, I would love to see him make the finals here. A career that has been so hampered with injuries, we've missed out on so much "could have been." Yet on the same hand, it ain't over yet. Still plenty of time to shine & the Scuffle would be a great place to do so. He was 7th at least year's championships & he owns a 1:31 fall over Garrett Joles, as well as a 7-3 decision over Jonah Niesenbaum.
It's been so rewarding to see Jonah Niesenbaum step it up for a team that frankly needed someone to step it up for them. As I said in a previous writing, his improvements are immeasurable. A combined record of 4-26 his first two seasons, last year he went 16-11. This year, he's currently 12-1. What a story it'd make for the Blue Devil wrestling program if he came in here and made the finals.
The Cowboy is 3-2 at the moment, with both of his losses coming via tiebreakers. As making the finals or taking 3rd (depending on where in the bracket one would meet Elam) seems very up for grabs, Konner Doucet is a contender.
Zachary Knighton Ward
As he's proven in many EIWA tournaments, ZKW can be a tough tournament wrestler when he wants to be. He'll contender for a top 8 showing.
Like Smith, Garrett Joles was at 197 lbs last season & like Smith he was also a Southern Scuffle Place-winner earning an 8th place finish. So far up at HWT he's looked pretty good, including a 6-2 victory over Mora, a 9-6 decision over Smith & a 2-1 t.b. over Doucet.
Another hope for the Bearcats to put someone on the award stand. Cory Day owns a 5-4 victory over Mora.
Unranked wrestlers who could plausibly have a top 8 showing?
One match shy of placing at last year's Scuffle, David Szuba will contend for a top 8 showing.
North Dakota State
It's been an up and down season for the freshman HWT but as this weight class isn't particularly loaded I could certainly see him finishing within the top 8.
With a 3-2 win over Mora & a 4-3 win over Doucet, Josiah Hill definitely gives the Trojans hope for another Scuffle place-winner.