Liberty goes 5-1 to claim second in NCWA national duals
January 19, 2013 | Dalton, Ga.
Defending National Collegiate Wrestling Association National Duals champion Liberty University rallied from behind to upset top-seeded University of Maryland-Baltimore County in the semifinals before falling to second-seeded Lindenwood-St. Charles in a finals rematch, 30-19, Saturday at the Georgia State Trade and Convention Center.
"I'm really proud of the kids," Flames head coach Jesse Castro said. "We weren't really expected to make it to the finals. It was probably the best we've wrestled on the season as a team."
Liberty, seeded fourth, defeated fifth-seeded Lindenwood-Belleville in the quarterfinals, 30-15, the same score the Flames beat Lindenwood-St. Charles by in last year's final.
"They were stronger than last year and because of our lower weights, we weren't as strong," Castro said. "The kids wrestled really well. They were just the better team. Our lower weights don't have the experience. All they can do is give their best and they were just outgunned (in the final)."
The match was even closer than the final score would indicate as the Flames, who trailed 24-0 after the first six bouts (two pins followed by four two-point decisions), narrowed it to 24-19 sparked by consecutive defensive falls from Keyshaun Ward (174 pounds) and Royal Brettrager (184).
"It wasn't a blowout by any means," Castro said. "They were hard-fought matches. We never had the lead in the final and we were too far behind to catch up. We're continually trying to dig ourselves out of a hole."
Needing a technical fall to tie the team score and a fall to win it, Josh Travers, a new wrestler for Liberty who took Wilson's spot at heavyweight, was pinned in the first period by the Lions' Matthew Atley, a football player wrestling in his first tournament in five years.
Brettrager, Thompson, and Wilson each finished undefeated for the Flames, who went 5-1 as a team with lopsided wins over East Tennessee State (48-9), Tennessee Temple (58-3), and North Florida (56-0) in Friday's first three rounds.
Liberty freshman Peter Tatanish was 4-1 for the weekend at 141 pounds, with momentum-starting wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals, and 125-pounder Jeremy Beale recorded two wins and stayed off his back in a match against Lindenwood-Belleville. Tatanish, who dropped down from 149 pounds, lost a 3-1 decision to Jacob Janes in the final before Marcus Miller dropped his 157-pound bout by the same count to Derrick Weller and Chase Boontjer was edged by Luke Roth 4-2 at 165.
In their 26-19 semifinal upset of UMBC, the Flames won six straight matches starting with Miller at 157 pounds. It was the second straight weekend that Liberty had knocked off the top seed in a dual tournament, after surprising Roger Williams in the opening round at the last week's Virginia Duals before settling for fifth place.
"This weekend was tougher (competition)," Castro said. "Lindenwood (St. Charles) would have won that tournament last weekend."
Central Florida, which eliminated the Flames last week and overtook them for fourth place in the NCWA rankings, beat UMBC in the third-place bout after losing to Lindenwood-St. Charles 30-15 in the semifinals.