Penn State is starting 2019 off in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the Southern Scuffle, where the Nittany have won the event in each of their last seven trips.
In the past few years, Nittany Lion fans have seen some wrestlers have their breakout performance during the two-day competition, and eventually landing them a spot in the Penn State starting lineup.
In 2017, it was Mark Hall at 174 pounds, and last year it was Nick Lee at 141 pounds and Shakur Rasheed at 197 pounds.
Now, with the new year around the corner, it’s possible once again that new fixtures emerge in the Penn State lineup.
This year, fans will want to keep a close eye on the 125 and 149 weight classes for some more potential breakout performances.
At 125 pounds, two wrestlers from Penn State will be competing. Devin Schnupp, who is currently 4-4 on the season, will wrestle for the Nittany Lions, and Brody Teske will be making his first collegiate appearance, wrestling unattached at the tournament.
“We have options there and we’ll try to make the right decision, but it’s really not that pressing for us right now,” Cael Sanderson said about the 125-pound weight class prior to the dual against Arizona State. “There’s no reason to rush into something when we’re not sure what the best long-term solution is for the program.”
Schnupp has had some success this season so far and has shown improvement from last season, but Teske will test him for the starting spot at 125 pounds. While this is his first collegiate match, he had a 175-1 overall record in high school, leading him to four Iowa state titles.
Fans should also keep a close eye on the 149 pound matchups. This season, Sanderson has been switching back and forth between No. 10 Brady Berge and Jarod Verkleeren. Berge is 6-0 on the season, while Verkleeren is 6-2. Luke Gardner will also wrestle at 149 pounds at the tournament.
“I think competition brings out the best in a competitor,” Sanderson said. “It’s competition that they [Berge and Verkleeren] both saw a year ago; they both saw this was going to be the spot and that only one guy can be the starter. Hopefully it’s raised their game.”
The Southern Scuffle could help Sanderson and the rest of the coaching staff choose a starter for the remainder of Penn State’s duals.