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Jan. 2, 2014

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Highlighted by a runner-up finish at 141 pounds by Joe Spisak (R-Jr., Boiling Springs, Pa.), the 13th-ranked Virginia wrestling team placed sixth at the Southern Scuffle Thursday at McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tenn. UVa finished with 89 points in the team competition while five Cavaliers reached the podium.

In addition to Spisak, four more Cavaliers placed: Nick Sulzer (R-Jr., Cleveland, Ohio) took third at 165, Gus Sako (R-Jr., Cleveland, Ohio) finished fourth at 149, Jon Fausey (R-Sr., Dalmatia, Pa.) took eighth at 184 and Ethan Hayes (R-So., New Lebanon, Ohio) placed eighth at heavyweight.

Sako also was awarded the tournament’s Gregorian Award for the most falls in the least amount of time. He recorded three falls in 6:31 during the tournament.

“This is the toughest tournament I have ever coached at,” Virginia head coach Steve Garland said. “There were All-Americans and NCAA champs all over the mats. I am really pleased that our team got the chance to compete at an event like this. We had a lot of good things happen. Obviously Joe Spisak put together an amazing tournament by beating two All-Americans and almost winning the whole thing. He blew me away this weekend.

Nick Sulzer lost a close one to an NCAA finalist but came back really strong for third. Gus Sako, Jon Fausey and Ethan Hayes all looked good as well.”

Spisak knocked off 19th-ranked Tyler Small of Kent State, 5-4, in the quarterfinals before scoring one of the tournamaent’s biggest upsets, a 5-2 decision over second-ranked Chris Dardanes of Minnesota, in the semifinal round. He then took third-ranked and unbeaten Zain Retherford of Penn State to overtime before giving up a takedown 32 seconds into sudden-victory time to fall, 6-4.

Ranked third nationally, Sulzer started his day with an 8-4 decision over Turtogtokh Luvsandorj of The Citadel in the quarterfinals. He suffered his first loss of the season in the quarterfinals, falling 2-1 to second-ranked Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State. Sulzer advanced to the third-place match with a medical forfeit over Cornell’s Dylan Palacio, then dominated in a 12-2 major decision against ninth-ranked Zach Toal of Missouri in the third-place bout. With a 6-1 mark at the Scuffle, Sulzer now is 19-1 on the season.

Sako (14-1) took his first loss of the season in the quarters, falling 3-1 to sixth-ranked Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State. Sako bounced back with three consecutive wins; he earned a 10-3 decision against Cody Ruggirello of Hofstra, then pinned Alexander Richardson of Old Dominion in 4:40. He advanced to the third-place match after eighth-ranked Chris Villalonga before taking a medical forfeit and finishing fourth.

Fausey fell 6-1 in his quarterfinal match against All-American Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota, but came back to record an 11-1 major decision against Central Michigan’s Craig Kelliher. He dropped into the seventh-place match with a 3-2 loss to Minnesota’s Brett Pfarr and took a medical forfeit in the final bout to finish eighth.

Hayes finished eighth at heavyweight, going 5-2 in the process. Coming through the consolation bracket after a first-round loss to top-ranked Anthony Nelson of Minnesota, Hayes won five straight bouts, including three Thursday. He topped PJ Tasser of Pitt, 3-2, to start the day, and followed it up with a 6-5 decision over Old Dominion’s Matt Tourdot. Hayes then needed just 16 seconds to pin Missouri’s Devin Mellon, marking Virginia’s fastest fall of the season. Hayes lost 3-2 to Penn State’s Jonathan Gingrich before dropping a 5-3 match to Minnesota’s Michael Korells in the seventh-place bout.

In all, 11 Cavaliers advanced to the second day of competition. Collin Campbell (R-Jr., Roxboro, N.C.), Stephen Doty (R-Sr., St. Louis, Mo.), Joseph Martinez (R-So., Platteville, Colo.), Zach Nye (R-So., Enola, Pa.), James Suvak (R-Fr., Parma Heights, Ohio) and Justin Van Hoose (So., Kirksville, Mo.) all were eliminated during the early session Thursday.

Virginia returns to dual competition Jan. 10-11 at the Virginia Duals at the Hampton Coliseum; UVa took runner-up honors in the tournament last season. The brackets will be announced early next week.

Southern Scuffle – Top 10 Teams
1. No. 1 Penn State, 189
2. No. 5 Oklahoma State, 164.5
3. No. 2 Minnesota, 161
4. No. 6 Cornell, 114.5
5. No. 8 Missouri, 102.5
6. No. 13 Virginia, 89
7. Kent State, 73.5
8. No. 17 Iowa State, 71.5
9. No. 23 Oregon State, 60
10. Old Dominion, 58.5
**rankings according to AWN

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