Club Sports News

Flames go 5-1 at NCWA duals, top Apprentice for third place

January 23, 2016  |  Dalton, Ga. 

Liberty senior heavyweight Josh Travers went 2-0 in the tournament, including an 8-2 decision over Apprentice School's Steven Francisco in the final bout of the third-place match. test test test test
Liberty senior heavyweight Josh Travers went 2-0 in the tournament, including an 8-2 decision over Apprentice School's Steven Francisco in the final bout of the third-place match.

For the fifth straight year, Liberty University's wrestling team posted a top-three finish at the NCWA National Duals, Saturday at the Dalton (Ga.) Convention Center.

The fifth-ranked, second-seeded defending champion Flames placed third after having their quest for a third tournament title derailed in the semifinals by third-seeded Grand Valley State, which won seven of the first eight matches before forfeiting the last three in a 29-22 triumph.

Liberty, which dominated Penn State-DuBois, 39-8, in its quarterfinal match, conquered Mid-Atlantic Conference rival Apprentice School, 27-15, in the third-place final, repeating its third-place finish from 2014. The Flames also won in 2012, their first year at the NCWA level, and placed second in 2013.

"Taking third place here, like our fourth-place finish at the Virginia Duals, that's not too shabby," Liberty Head Coach Jesse Castro said, noting those are the only two dual-meet tournaments the Flames have this season. "You always want your guys to wrestle above expectations, but in the greater scheme of things, you want them to wrestle up to their level and we did that. We had some inexperienced wrestlers working their tails off, doing the best they could." 

Liberty 174-pound junior Josh Ferenczy and 235-pound sophomore Evan Canady both went 3-0 on the day, with Ferenczy winning three major decisions and Canady recording one technical fall, one major decision, and one win by forfeit. Flames junior 149-pounder Ike Podell won two of his three matches — by 16-4 technical fall over Penn State-DuBois' Devin Joiner and by 16-4 major decision over The Apprentice School's Ty Watkins — while senior 197-pounder Alex Cox and heavyweight Josh Travers went 1-0 and 2-0, respectively.

Grand Valley State, which won the 235-pound and heavyweight bouts to overcome a 21-19 deficit and defeat sixth-seeded Emmanuel College, 28-21, in the quarterfinals, lost to top-seeded Central Florida in the championship match, 32-18.

"Grand Valley was tougher than I thought," Castro said. "They were impressive. They've got a nice team, balanced from top to bottom. They're well-coached and well-conditioned. We definitely didn't wrestle as well as we could, but we didn't wrestle that bad. They just outwrestled us."

He challenged the Flames after their only loss in six dual meets over the weekend to not dwell on it, but use it as motivation to become more fundamentally sound and technically precise.

"After that match, I got together with the guys and had a long talk, to get them to put it in perspective," Castro said. "(The Lakers) didn't have bigger hearts; it's not that they tried harder or had more character. They were just technically better than us. We're good, but we have holes that are kind of glaring. We're green in some areas, inexperienced wrestling at that level. You can't get blood from a rock."

Liberty, which takes 22 bonus points into the March 10-12 NCWA National Championships in Kissimmee, Fla., based on its third-place finish out of 24 teams in the National Duals, next competes in a tri-match against West Virginia Tech and host Southern Virginia University, Feb. 3 in Buena Vista, before competing in the Messiah (Pa.) Open on Feb. 6.

 Championship quarterfinal: Liberty 39, Penn State-DuBois 8
125 - Dell Ngonga (Liberty) p. Brett Himes (Penn State - DuBois), 0:46
133 - Brian DiCesare (Liberty), by forfeit
141 - Logan Smith (Liberty) d. Garrett Brown (Penn State - DuBois), 10-3
149 - Ike Podell (Liberty) t.f. Devin Joiner (Penn State - DuBois), 16-0
157 - Jake Himes (Penn State - DuBois) d. Jonah Swinson (Liberty), 7-0
165 - Ty Haines (Penn State - DuBois) t.f. Josh McIlhenny (Liberty), 18-0
174 - Josh Ferenczy (Liberty) m.d. John Prentice (Penn State - DuBois), 12-0
184 - Taylor Westlake (Liberty) d. Joe Knarr (Penn State - DuBois), 5-1
197 - Alex Cox (Liberty) m.d. Dennis Lumadue (Penn State - DuBois), 11-3
235 - Evan Canady (Liberty) t.f. Nathaniel Rodgers (Penn State - DuBois), 15-0
285 - Dominick Johnson (Liberty) d. Bryce Hanley (Penn State - DuBois), 4-0

Championship semifinal: Grand Valley State 29, Liberty 22
- Brendan Hazelton (Grand Valley State) d. Dell Ngonga (Liberty), 14-7
133 - Nick Reddy (Grand Valley State) d. Brian DiCesare (Liberty), 11-8
141 - Zach Cooper (Grand Valley State) p. Logan Smith (Liberty), 0:47
149 - Jake Sobeck (Grand Valley State) m.d. Ike Podell (Liberty), 11-3
157 - Gabe Stepanovich (Grand Valley State) p. Jacob Brooks (Liberty), 1:58
165 - Austin Geerlings (Grand Valley State) m.d. Michael Bryant (Liberty), 15-6
174 - Josh Ferenczy (Liberty) m.d. Bailey Bischer (Grand Valley State), 12-2
184 - Eric Dietz (Grand Valley State) d. Taylor Westlake (Liberty), 3-2
197 - Erik Porch (Liberty) by forfeit
235 - Evan Canady (Liberty) by forfeit
285 - Josh Travers (Liberty) by forfeit

Third-place final: Liberty 27, The Apprentice School 15
125 - Ty Boyd (The Apprentice School) d. Dell Ngonga (Liberty), 6-5
133 - Aaron Bright (The Apprentice School) d. Brian DiCesare (Liberty), 9-3
141 - Logan Smith (Liberty) by forfeit
149 - Ike Podell (Liberty) m.d. Ty Watkins (The Apprentice School), 16-4
157 - Jacob Brooks (Liberty) d. Landon Leithauser (The Apprentice School), 7-2
165 - Michael Bryant (Liberty) d. Gil Owens (The Apprentice School), 11-6
174 - Josh Ferenczy (Liberty) m.d. Chad Simmons (The Apprentice School), 11-1
184 - Tyson Tillar (The Apprentice School) p. Taylor Westlake (Liberty), 0:34
197 - Josh Rodriguez (The Apprentice School) d. Erik Porch (Liberty), 7-4
235 - Evan Canady (Liberty) m.d. Shakeem Lassiter (The Apprentice School), 12-3
285 - Josh Travers (Liberty) d. Steven Francisco (The Apprentice School), 8-2


By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

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