Four Gophers Place at Southern Scuffle

Led by Brett Pfarr’s second-place finish at 197 pounds, Minnesota takes sixth at prestigious in-season tournament

Against one of the best fields of any in-season tournament, Minnesota placed four wrestlers at this weekend’s Southern Scuffle. No. 5 Brett Pfarr led the way, outwrestling his seed and placing second at 197, while No. 6 Michael Kroells finished third at 285, No. 11 Tommy Thorn finished fifth at 141 and Sam Brancale finished eighth at 133.

As a team, Minnesota finished sixth, with 73 team points. Penn State took home the team title, followed by Oklahoma State, Lehigh, North Carolina, Cornell and then the Gophers.

Throughout his two days in Chattanooga, and as he has all season, Pfarr looked like one of the nation’s best at 197 pounds. On Saturday, Pfarr knocked off No. 15 John Bolich (Lehigh) by major decision, 10-2, in the quarterfinals before upsetting No. 3 Conner Hartmann (Duke), 4-3, in the semis. With those victories, Pfarr added to his team-high total for ranked wins, now owning seven on the season. In the final, Pfarr fell to No. 1 Morgan McIntosh (Penn State). The defeat was only the second this season for Pfarr. Those losses have come to the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked wrestlers in the nation.

After opening his day with a major decision in the quarterfinals, Kroells was bounced to the backside of the bracket by No. 13 Denzel Dejournette (Appalachian State) in a 5-3 semifinal decision. Kroells rebounded from that loss to defeat the No. 10 and No. 14 ranked wrestlers to claim third place and finish the tournament with a 5-1 record.

Thorn found himself wrestling for fifth place after a pair of narrow losses, the second a one-point defeat against Joey Ward (North Carolina) that ended with a sequence where Thorn narrowly missed scoring a match-winning takedown in the final seconds. Thorn dominated No. 16 Zachary Horan (Central Michigan), 10-2, in the fifth-place match.

Following a defeat in the quarterfinals to top-ranked Nahshon Garrett (Cornell), Brancale clinched a top-eight finish with a third-period pin in his first consolation match of the weekend. Brancale finished eighth after a 9-5 loss to Garth Yenter (Michigan State) in the seventh-place match.

Four Minnesota wrestlers fell just shy of placing in the event with losses in Round of 12 consolation matches, the final round before wrestlers clinch top-eight placement.

Two of those wrestlers came to the backside of the bracket after losing 125-pound quarterfinal bouts. Steve Polakowski significantly outwrestled his seed by reaching the quarterfinals, but fell in consecutive matches in the quarters and Round of 12. The same fate befell his teammate, Ethan Lizak, who lost to No. 5 Eddie Klimara (Oklahoma State) and No. 12 Zeke Moisey (West Virginia) after advancing to the quarterfinals with his performance yesterday. Lizak, wrestling unattached, also outperformed his seeding.

In addition to that pair, 157-pounder Brandon Kingsley fell in the Round of 12 for the second time in as many career appearances at the Southern Scuffle. Kingsley began his day with a first-period pin of Christopher Dowdy (Cornell) and added a 7-3 decision before he was eliminated from the tournament. Similarly, Nick Wanzek went 2-1 in 174-pound consolation matches on Saturday, matching Kingsley’s first-period pin in his opening match of the day and adding an 8-0 major decision before his Round of 12 defeat.

Four more Gophers wrestled into Saturday but fell earlier in the day during consolation rounds: Skyler Petry (125 pounds), Fredy Stroker (149), Larry Early III (157) and Brandon Krone (165).

Southern Scuffle Results

As the Southern Scuffle concluded on Saturday evening, so too did Minnesota’s in-season tournament schedule. Minnesota will return to dual action for the remainder of the regular season before jumping into postseason tournament action in March. The Gophers’ next contest is this coming Friday, when they will host the Maryland Terrapins at the Sports Pavilion. That match is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Central and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

Gopher Match by Match Results (Day Two)


Steve Polakowski (0-2)
Quarters: Brent Fleetwood (Central Michigan) dec Steve Polakowski, 1-0
Round of 12: Connor Schram (Stanford) dec (SV-1) Steve Polakowski, 8-4

Skyler Petry (0-1)
Cons Rnd 4: Sean Russell (Edinboro) fall (6:59) Skyler Petry

Ethan Lizak (0-2)**
Quarters: No. 5 Eddie Klimara (Oklahoma State) fall (6:59) Ethan Lizak
Round of 12: No. 12 Zeke Moisey (West Virginia) dec Ethan Lizak, 8-6


Sam Brancale (1-3)
Quarters: No. 1 Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) tech fall Sam Brancale, 17-1
Round of 12: Sam Brancale fall (6:31) Tyler Ziegler (Gardner Webb)
Cons Quarters: No. 19 Josh Martinez (Air Force) dec Sam Brancale, 8-5
7th Place: Garth Yenter (Michigan State) dec Sam Brancale, 9-5


Tommy Thorn (2-2)
Quarters: Tommy Thorn dec No. 15 Bryce Meredith (Wyoming), 7-6
Semis: No. 1 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) dec Tommy Thorn, 10-7
Cons Semis: Joey Ward (North Carolina) dec Tommy Thorn, 4-3
5th Place: Tommy Thorn maj dec No. 16 Zachary Horan (Central Michigan), 10-2


Fredy Stroker (1-1) **
Cons Rnd 4: Fredy Stroker dec Chandler Pyke (Unattached, NC State), 8-5
Cons Rnd 5: No. 12 Anthony Collica (Oklahoma State) dec Fredy Stroker, 6-0


Brandon Kingsley (2-1)
Cons Rnd 4: Brandon Kingsley fall (1:40) Christopher Dowdy (Cornell)
Cons Rnd 5: Brandon Kingsley dec Robert Henderson (North Carolina), 7-3
Round of 12: Zack Beitz (Penn State) dec Brandon Kingsley, 8-1

Larry Early III (0-1)**
Cons Rnd 4: Aaron Walker (Citadel) dec Larry Early III, 9-4


Brandon Krone (1-1)
Cons Rnd 4: Brandon Krone dec Austin Trott (Gardner Webb), 8-3
Cons Rnd 5: Casey Fuller (Edinboro) dec Brandon Krone, 8-2


Nick Wanzek (2-1)
Cons Rnd 4: Nick Wanzek fall (2:15) Gabe Stark (Cleveland State)
Cons Rnd 5: Nick Wanzek maj dec Brian Dorsey (Duke), 8-0
Round of 12: Casey Kent (Penn) tech fall Nick Wanzek, 16-0


No. 5 Brett Pfarr (2-1)
Quarters: Brett Pfarr maj dec No. 15 John Bolich (Lehigh), 10-2
Semis: Brett Pfarr dec No. 3 Conner Hartmann (Duke), 4-3
Finals: No. 1 Morgan McIntosh (Penn State) dec Brett Pfarr, 3-2


No. 6 Michael Kroells (3-1)
Quarters: Michael Kroells maj dec Jeramy Sweany (Cornell), 10-2
Semis: No. 13 Denzel Dejournette (Appalachian State) dec Michael Kroells, 5-3
Cons Semis: Michael Kroells dec (SV-1) No. 10 Max Wessell (Lehigh), 6-4
3rd Place: Michael Kroells dec No. 14 Jared Johnson (Chattanooga), 5-3

** denotes Minnesota wrestlers competing unattached

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