Liberty wrestlers start on a roll at NCWA National Duals
January 24, 2014 | Dalton, Ga.
Liberty University's top-seeded wrestling team opened competition in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) National Duals Tournament at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center in Dalton, Ga., with three decisive victories over No. 17 Southern Virginia, No. 16 South Florida, and No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast.
The Flames advance to Saturday's championship quarterfinals at noon against No. 8 Mott Community College, a 39-21 winner over No. 7 Mercer University.
Liberty dominated FGCU, 43-15, in the third round despite losses by two of its wrestlers ranked No. 1 in the NCWA – 174-pound junior Keyshaun Ward and 197-pound senior Aaron Thompson.
In the 174-pound bout, the Eagles' Giovanni Jiovenetta converted a second-period reversal into a pin of Ward in 4:44. Two weight classes later, Jiovenetta's brother Vincent scored an escape in overtime to edge Thompson, 5-4.
But the Flames opened the match with three consecutive second-period falls, by 125-pound freshman Tim Nordan over David Nguyen in 5:57, 133-pound freshman Ryan Diehl over Austin Vajen in 4:25 and 141-pound graduate student Collin Lewis over Michael Blasucci in 4:54. Liberty also picked up three forfeit wins and a 9-0 major decision by senior 184-pounder Royal Brettrager, in his first action since returning from injury, over Ken Hird.
Liberty opened the competition with a 49-6 rout of SVU sparked by pins by 165-pound sophomore Alex Cox, 174-pound sophomore Josh Sturgill, and sophomore heavyweight Zach Newton, as well as three more wins by forfeit.
In a 45-9 second-round victory over USF, Nordan and Diehl needed a combined 38 seconds to register pins against Rory Roderick and Michael Crespo, setting the tone for the blowout.
Full results from Friday's matches are available online and Saturday's action and updates can be followed on Twitter: @ncwa.