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Caleb Smith
Caleb Smith won in the 125 pound weight class by an 8-3 decision.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Wrestling Competes at Southern Scuffle

Two ranked wins Monday helped App State’s Caleb Smith earn his third fifth-place finish at the Southern Scuffle.

Tommy Askey, unseeded at 157 pounds, went 4-2 to place seventh. Sean Carter’s 3-3 mark at 133 pounds resulted in an eighth-place showing.

Matching his finishes from 2022 and 2020, Smith went 5-2 at McKenzie Arena with two losses to top-20 opponents. His takedown in a Sudden Victory overtime period produced a 7-5 win against 28th-ranked Braxton Brown of Maryland to clinch a top-six spot, and Smith rallied for a 5-4 win in the fifth-place match against 16th-ranked Stevo Poulin from Northern Colorado.

Poulin, an NC State transfer who had won 6-5 against Smith in a quarterfinal match Sunday, led 3-0 and increased his riding time to 1:25 on Monday before Smith got an escape with 1:20 left in third period.

Smith tied the match at 3-all on the scoreboard thanks to a takedown with 54 seconds left and stayed on top for 17 seconds to reduce Poulin’s riding time advantage to 1:08 before Poulin took a 4-3 lead with an escape. Smith delivered another takedown with 11 seconds left and maintained a front headlock until time ran out with no escape awarded.

The lack of escape, plus Poulin’s riding time going from 1:08 to under a minute at just 57 seconds, allowed Smith to record a 5-4 victory.

Smith’s 3-1 day also included a 4-3 victory against Little Rock’s Jeremiah Reno, a Nebraska transfer.

With App State’s wrestlers ranking among the national leaders in contested matches during the 2022 fall, plus an appearance at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational adding to an already challenging schedule, the Mountaineers took a different approach with how they arranged their entries for the Southern Scuffle and didn’t send all of their starters. App State’s 46.5 team points were the 13th-highest in the 21-team field.

Smith, Askey, Carter, Cody Bond (157 pounds), Will Formato (165), Will Miller (174) and Carson Floyd (197) all made it to Day 2 of a loaded event in which no Mountaineer was seeded higher than fifth in his bracket.

Askey’s two losses were decisions against wrestlers ranked No. 2 and No. 20 in the country. He had 11 takedowns and one reversal in a tech fall against Duke’s Logan Ferrero to open the event and reached the quarterfinals with a 6-0 shutout of Oklahoma State’s Travis Mastrojiovannia. After a 7-2 loss to No. 2 Kendall Coleman of Purdue, Askey won a 16-4 major decision against Iowa State’s Andrew Huddleston. He followed a 7-4 loss to No. 20 Daniel Cardenas of Stanford by taking the seventh-place match via a medical forfeit.

Carter’s three wins included 3-2 decisions against both Minnesota’s Jake Gliva and North Dakota State’s McGwire Midkiff. Two of his three losses were against top-20 opponents.

Bond and Miller both won three matches apiece to come within one win of medaling, as Miller improved to 3-1 thanks to a 7-5 decision that concluded with a Sudden Victory takedown of Virginia’s Hudson Stewart. Formato won his first two matches to also reach the final 12, and Floyd made it there with two wins, including a 3-1 decision that ended with a Sudden Victory takedown of Chattanooga’s Jake Boyd.

All told, App State wrestlers were involved in 22 matches against ranked opponents.

Chad Bellis (125), Noah Luna (125), Ethan Oakley (133), Heath Gonyer (141), Ike Byers (141), Braden Welch (174), Luke Uliano (184) and Jacob Sartorio (heavyweight) also had hands raised in Chattanooga.