Wrestlers start NCWA Grand Nationals on a roll in Texas
March 8, 2018 | Allen, Texas
On the opening day of the NCWA Grand National Championships at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas, Liberty University's men's wrestlers got out to a strong start, gaining momentum as they seek an individual tournament crown for the second time in four years.
The Flames, who won the NCWA National Duals tournament earlier this season at the LaHaye Ice Center, won 13 of 15 bouts in Thursday's Rounds of 64 and 32, putting them in excellent position going into Friday's second day of competition to complete the sweep, as they did in 2015.
Opening-round matches included two Liberty qualifiers competing in the 141-pound weight class. Sophomore Ashton Robinson earned a 9-7 decision over fourth-seeded Michael Harris of defending NCWA Grand National Tournament champion Emmanuel, winning a 40-second scramble in overtime, before second-seeded freshman Reid Stewart scored a 16-2 major decision over Connecticut's Anthony Devanny.
Flames' 184-pound sophomore Cody Richmond, seeded 14th, picked up bonus points by pinning New Hampshire's Jonathan Carrigan in 4 minutes, 54 seconds.
Liberty 235-pound senior David Smith, seeded 18th, advanced with a 4-2 decision over Macomb (Mich.) Community College's Elijah Tucker.
In the Round of 32, Flames 125-pound freshman Keegan Smith, seeded 13th, stayed in the championship bracket with a 7-3 decision over MIT's Matthew Chun. Then, at 133, freshman Blake Justis, seeded 11th, picked up pin points by decking BYU's Jansen Engelbrecht in 4:19.
Robinson won his second match of the day by fall, needing just 2:10 to pin Washington State's Zachary Moore. Stewart then picked up his second major decision in as many matches, this time by a 10-2 margin over Penn State-Worthington Scranton's Brock Lieberman.
Texas A&M's Tyrae Carter dealt Liberty its first loss with a 12-9 decision over Flames fourth-seeded 149-pound freshman Chad Cantrell, who is grappling with a knee injury sustained in the Mid-Atlantic Conference tournament.
At 157 pounds, Liberty third-seeded sophomore Andrew Burgette scored an 11-2 major decision over Florida's Coll Robertson. Flames freshman 165-pounder David Cox, seeded 16th, then pinned Sourya Mogallapu from the Missouori University of Science and Technology in 1:44. Also at 165, Liberty second-seeded sophomore Joe Scott picked up bonus points by scoring an 18-1 technical fall in his first match of the day over Sacramento State's Adolfo Delacruz.
Liberty's Luke Ely, seeded 16th, suffered a 4-1 loss to Iowa State's Tyler Kutz at 174 pounds before fellow Flames sophomore Sam Karel, the third seed, won his 174-pound bout by first-period pin over Husson (Maine) University's Connor Winchenbach in 2:03.
At 184 pounds, Flames junior co-captain Josh McIlhenny, seeded fourth, pinned Temple's Nathaniel Stemple in 1:35 before Richmond followed in quick succession with his second fall, in 3:52 over BYU's James Stubbs.
Friday's action resumes at 9 a.m. (CST) with consolation and championship quarterfinal matches, followed by women's preliminary rounds at 10 a.m. (CST). Semifinals are set for 7 p.m. (CST). Saturday's competition opens with men's All-American consolation finals and women's third-place finals at 9 a.m (CST). Championship finals are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. (CST) Saturday.