Three wrestlers finish top six for Liberty at Messiah Open
January 26, 2013 | Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Ten members of Liberty University's wrestling team competed in Saturday's annual Messiah Open, an NCAA tournament in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
The Flames entered two wrestlers in four of the 10 weight classes, but none in four others and came away with three top-six place-winners. A total of 14 schools competed in the event but no team standings were kept.
Robert Clymer, the No. 1 seed at 165 pounds, lived up to his top billing by capturing Liberty's only individual title, improving on his third-place finish from last year despite struggling with a shoulder injury. Clymer received a first-round bye before scoring an 8-5 decision over Brandon Parker of Kutztown in the quarterfinals, pinning Messiah's Kyle Dayhoff in 6 minutes, 10 seconds and recording a 12-3 major decision over Nick Lobue of Maryland in the final.
"He really gutted out a solid three matches and did a good job winning that thing," Flames head coach Jesse Castro said.
At 157 pounds, the Flames got a fifth-place finish from Chase Boontjer, who scored a 4-3 first-round decision over the Terrapins' top-seeded Ben Dorsay, a top-20-ranked wrestler in the nation last year who is red-shirting this season.
"Chase wrestled hard and smart," Castro said. "He was hungry. He wanted that match and really wrestled well. He rode him and dominated him from the top position."
Boontjer needed just 2:13 to pin Brockport's eighth-seeded Bradley Haggerty in the quarterfinals before losing his semifinal match by first-minute fall to Wilkes University's Phillip Racciato.
"He was poised to make it to the finals but got caught on his back in a scramble position," Castro said. "It happened that fast. It was really disappointing for us because he was in such a great position to win that tournament."
Boontjer wound up losing a rematch against Dorsay, 7-3, before winning his fifth-place bout by forfeit over Maryland's Anthony Guidice.
"That kid is really good," Castro said of Dorsay. "I knew it would be really difficult to face him a second time."
Liberty 141-pounder Peter Tatanish finished sixth after forfeiting his last two matches against Wilkes' Griff Panicucci and Waynesburg's Dan Bruni in the fifth-place final.
"He got himself in a bad position and hurt his back (in a 6-4 consolation quarterfinal victory over Wilkes' Mark Misczenski)," Castro said. "He won that match and was poised to come back and wrestle to get into the third-place match, but he literally was in tears because of the pain. It was not worth pushing him through, so I told him I'm taking him out. This is kind of a strategic tournament where you get guys matches, but you're really careful this time of year about getting anybody hurt."
Tatanish had pinned Delaware Valley's James Delillo in 1:09 in the opening round before dropping an 8-6 decision to Brockport's Jordan Dyer in the quarterfinals. He was pitted against Flames teammate Josh Sanders in the first round of consolation matches and advanced with a 4-2 decision before facing Misczenski.
Injuries and illnesses are nothing new for Castro this season.
"This has been, in my 30 years of coaching, the absolute worst year I've had in terms of injuries," Castro said. "It's just been a nightmare. We've got a month to put it together in time for our (national) qualifier."
Liberty travels to Parkersburg, W.Va., for a dual meet against Ohio Valley University this Tuesday night before going to Laurinburg, N.C., next Wednesday to meet St. Andrews College. As the defending champions, the Flames will host the Mid-Atlantic Conference tournament, an NCWA national qualifier, on March 2.