Club Sports News

Flames nab individual title, team-best second place at NCWAs

March 15, 2014  |  Allen, Texas 

Liberty University wrestler Ryan Diehl capped off a phenomenal freshman season as an undefeated 133-pound national champion, helping the Flames hold on for a second-place team showing at Saturday's NCWA National Championships at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas. He also received the NCWA's Wrestler of the Year award.

Liberty 133-pound freshman Ryan Diehl was named NCWA Wrestler of the Year.

The second-seeded Diehl upset Massachusetts Institute of Technology's top-seeded, undefeated, defending national champion senior Sam Shames, 15-10, to finish his first year of collegiate wrestling at 34-0. As the Flames' only championship finalist, he needed to win to allow Liberty (171.5 points) to hold off third-place Shorter University (162.5) and finish runner-up to national team champion Grand Canyon University (254.5).

"It was an amazing day," Flames Head Coach Jesse Castro said. "It's been like a roller coaster."

Liberty had seven wrestlers reach the championship quarterfinals after Thursday's opening day of competition, but Diehl was its only representative in Saturday's championship final.

Flames' 141-pounder Colin Lewis, junior 157-pounder Chase Boontjer, junior 174-pounder Keyshaun Ward, and senior 184-pounder Royal Brettrager each grappled back through the consolation bracket to capture third place individually.

"There was a lot of disappointment in terms of losing so many semifinal matches," Castro said. "It was a gut check. They just kind of regrouped and kept things in perspective. I'm glad they stepped up to the plate."

After being knocked out of the championship bracket with a loss in the quarterfinal round, Lewis won three consolation matches on Friday, the last two by major decision and technical fall. On Saturday, the first-year graduate student who last wrestled for Liberty as a sophomore competing at the NCAA Division I level, pulled out three tight decisions to emerge as the consolation champion.

Lewis edged Georgia Southern's Joshua Gaspard in the consolation quarterfinals, North Florida's Chad Baumann 4-2 in the semis, and Texas A&M's Austin Souders 3-2 in the final.

Boontjer, who placed seventh at last year's NCWA tournament to help boost the Flames to third place, escaped with a 3-2 victory in his second consolation match Friday against The Apprentice School's Patrick Foxworth before winning three more decisions in Saturday's wrestlebacks. He defeated William & Mary's returning All-American Austen Brower in a rematch of their Mid-Atlantic Conference final. Then, in the consolation semifinal, Boontjer earned a 15-6 major decision over Montana Western's James Peterson before edging Central Washington's Nick Bendon, 4-3 in the final.

At 174, Ward, the No. 1 seed, repeated his third-place performance from last year's tournament. Ward scored a 9-3 decision over Navy Prep's Robert Manier in the semifinals before taking Shorter's second-seeded Dalton Lane to overtime before finishing him off with a fall in 6:53.

Brettrager capped his career with a second-straight third-place showing and, like last year, picked up bonus points with back-to-back pins along the way. He decked Army Prep's Jack Wedholm in 3:23 before sinking Navy Prep's Jadaen Bernstein in 2:46.

Also at 184, Liberty freshman Matt Reynolds, who lost an 11-1 major decision to Wedholm in his sixth consolation match of the tournament — and first on Saturday — bounced back to earn All-American status by pinning Middle Tennessee State University's Jonathan Roberts in 1:38 of the seventh-place final.  

Liberty 197-pounder Aaron Thompson, who captured a national title in 2012 and placed second last year, finished fourth as a senior. Thompson, who like Brettrager battled back from offseason surgery, started Saturday's consolation competition by scoring an 18-7 major decision over Auburn's Carl Brown in the semifinals before coming up on the short end of a 3-2 decision in the third-place final against Grand Canyon's Marcus Haughion.

At 149, Liberty sophomore Peter Tatanish, who lost his championship semifinal by 7-4 decision to Grand Canyon's top-seeded Mike Hamel, dropped another tight match in the consolation semis, falling to Air Force's Robert Walker, 3-2. Tatanish had scored a 7-3 decision over Walker in Friday's championship quarterfinals.

Complete team scores and individual brackets are available online.

 

By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

Wrestling Links
Schedule
Results

No events scheduled for this team.

Mar 14
Wrestling
at NCWA Grand Nationals
National Champs

Mar 13
Wrestling
at NCWA Grand Nationals
1st Llopez

Mar 12
Wrestling
at NCWA Grand Nationals
1st Diehl

Feb 28
Wrestling
vs. Mid Atlantic Conference Tournament
MAC Champs

Feb 12
Wrestling
at Dual Meet @ Ferrum College
W (29-10)

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