Wrestling recruits Avery, Murphy add depth to upper weights
July 24, 2018 | Lynchburg, Va.
|Josh Avery is deemed the winner of a 220-pound match as a senior last season for Liberty Christian Academy.|
Lynchburg-area wrestlers Josiah Murphy and Josh Avery will continue their careers at Liberty University this fall, strengthening an already overpowering lineup in the Flames' upper weight classes.
The two incoming freshmen played football all four years and also played lacrosse for Liberty Christian Academy this past spring, but wrestling is unquestionably their best sport. They join fellow LCA graduate Chad Cantrell, a rising sophomore 149-pound wrestler for Liberty, which won its second NCWA Grand National Championships team title in four years this past March.
Avery, who started wrestling in eighth grade, recruited Murphy to LCA's wrestling team before his sophomore season, not knowing his friend from the football team would eventually displace him in the Bulldogs' lineup at 195 pounds.
"Josiah is a very strong kid," Avery said of Murphy. "He is shorter and stockier than me but he is a stout athlete and I respect him an awful lot. When he wants to, he definitely can overpower (opponents) with his strength. He's shown great strides in those three years he's been wrestling and I only see him going up from here."
Murphy will likely contend with Jeffrey Allen, a transfer from Virginia Tech, and fellow rising sophomore Alex Hicks, rising senior defending NCWA national champion Austin Amos, or rising senior captain and two-time defending NCWA All-American Dominick Johnson for mat time at 195, 235, and 285 pounds, respectively.
"It is going to be a tough weight class for us, no doubt, but if he can handle the heat, it's going to sharpen him, hone him for a higher level of wrestling," Flames Head Coach Jesse Castro said.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge," added Murphy, who finished 85-8 for his three-year career at LCA, placing third in the Class 4A state championships as a junior and second as a senior.
He plans to major in exercise science and to become a physical therapist.
"I think he's going to be a nice addition to our program," Castro said. "Josiah is very athletic, very strong, and agile. He's got all the tools to become a very successful collegiate wrestler. He needs to adjust his technique and grow in experience and confidence. As that grows, he's going to really take off."
Despite weighing 195, Avery bumped up to wrestle at 220 pounds for his senior season at LCA.
"He's a hard worker and he is very competitive, which is important in wrestling," longtime LCA wrestling coach Paul Anthony said. "He's a great kid and a great teammate, too, always willing to help out."
Avery, who plans to major in history and possibly pursue a law degree through Liberty University School of Law after graduating, said he would be willing to drop down as low as 184 or bump up as high as 235 pounds to compete for the Flames, realizing Liberty is loaded at the heavyweight ranks.
"I'm flexible with whatever coach Castro wants me to do," said Avery, who qualified for the Class 4A state tournament as a senior. "I definitely improved every year at LCA and am looking to continue to improve my skills starting as a freshman this fall and contend for a starting spot."
Castro believes the Flames will be a favorite to defend their NCWA National Duals and Grand National championships this year, and difficult to beat at any weight class from 149, where Cantrell returns from a knee injury that sidelined him for the national tournament, up through heavyweight.