Flames fall twice to Ferrum, finish fourth at Virginia Duals
January 11, 2014 | Hampton, Va.
As improbable as it was for Liberty University's wrestling team to lose by tie-breaker to Ferrum College in Friday morning's first round of the 34th Virginia Duals at the Hampton Coliseum, for it to happen again in Saturday's consolation final – in nearly the exact same fashion – was nearly inconceivable.
"It is incredible," Liberty Head Coach Jesse Castro said after watching his team's fourth-place finish with a 22-21 loss to the Panthers. "In 30 years of coaching, I've never seen that."
Seeded fourth in the eight-team American College Division bracket, after placing second in 2012 and fifth last winter, the Flames suffered a 19-18 first-round loss to Ferrum in a back-and-forth battle that featured five wins by both teams. The bout ended deadlocked at 18 after Panthers heavyweight Tate Dulany pinned Flames sophomore Zach Newton with a half-nelson in 5:47.
Ferrum got the one bonus point on a second-criteria tie-breaker (pins) after the first criteria was number of matches won.
"That was a heartbreaker," Castro said. "It was a barnburner, no doubt."
Liberty scored three decisions, one major decision (by junior 157-pounder Chase Boontjer, 12-3 over Damon Minor), and one technical fall (by freshman 133-pounder Ryan Diehl, 15-0 over Justin Zimmerman); Ferrum had four decisions and the one fall.
Liberty sophomore Peter Tatanish defeated the Panthers' Josh Lancaster, 6-4 at 149; junior Keyshaun Ward doubled up Ferrum's Thomas Smith, 6-3 at 174; and senior Aaron Thompson edged Darreus McCrea, 3-1 at 197 pounds, to account for the Flames' three decisions.
Three of Ferrum's four decisions were by three points or less — Robert Cunningham beat freshman Tim Nordan, 7-4 at 125; Logan Meister nipped senior Collin Lewis, 4-3 at 141; and Corbin Ramos held off freshman Matthew Reynolds, 12-10 at 184.
On Friday afternoon, Liberty dominated Central Florida, 44-13, winning three matches by fall and three by forfeit, to advance to Saturday afternoon's second round of consolations.
"The kids bounced back pretty good," Castro said.
Nordan pinned the Knights' Christopher Fox in 1:41 at 125, Diehl won by forfeit at 133, and Lewis scored an 18-0 tech fall of Junior Francoise at 141 to get the Flames going. Sturgill also pinned Sean Mann in 6:55 at 174 and Thompson required just 35 seconds to deck Garrett Sweringen at 197 as Liberty continued to roll over UCF.
The momentum from that match carried over into a 36-9 consolation semifinal victory over Limestone, which had lost to Stevens Tech in the championship semifinals, as Liberty did last year.
"That was a huge win for us against an NCAA Division II team," Castro said. "We hammered them. We caught them coming off of a loss and capitalized on the psychology of it. Our kids really wrestled well."
The Flames recorded three pins (by Diehl in 2:06 over Henry Majano, Reynolds in 5:14 over David Kieta, and Newton in 2:01 over Jeremiah Parker); two technical falls (by Lewis, 15-3 over Terrence Dugay, and Boontjer, 15-0 over Zachri Nelson); and one major decision (by 157-pound freshman Josh Ferenczy, 13-1 over Matthew Farmer) in addition to three regular decisions.
In the consolation final rematch with the Panthers, the Flames may have had the motivational edge, seeking to exact a measure of revenge following the first-round setback. However, while Liberty's winners did so more convincingly – with two prevailing by pin, one recording a technical fall, and one a major decision – this time the Flames lost the tie-breaker on the first criteria after dropping six of the 10 matches wrestled.
Diehl, who has won three individual tournaments as a freshman (Fall Brawl, Joe Parisi Open, and Citrus Classic), gave the Flames an early 6-3 lead by pinning Zimmerman in 3:39 at 133. At 157, Boontjer put Liberty back on top 11-9 with a 17-1 tech fall of Daniel Reynolds before Ward lifted the Flames to a 15-12 lead with a 15-5 major decision over Smith.
Tied at 15, following Ramos' 7-1 decision over Liberty's Matthew Reynolds at 184, Thompson put the Flames in excellent position to put the match away by pinning McCrea in one minute flat.
"I was really proud of the kids," Castro said. "I thought they wrestled better (against Ferrum) the second time, with more bonus points. They were more aggressive, went after it, and extended themselves."
But in the heavyweight final, Dulany knotted the team score at 21-21, and secured the third-place tie-breaker for the Panthers, by taking 10 seconds longer to pin Newton than he had the first time, in 5:57.
Newton was actually leading the rematch 2-1 before going on attack in a move that backfired, with Dulany putting him in a body wrap bear hug for the fall.