Feb 2, 2010

Welcome to the Thunder Dome: Flames destroy VMI, 27-7

by Brittany Barclay

The Liberty Flames wrestling team came out of their four-match losing streak and hit Virginia Military Institute (VMI) hard in Wednesday’s match, 29-7, inside the Keydet’s Thunder Dome. The win brought the Flames record to 7-7, while the Keydets fell to 5-6 on the season.

The match started off with a loss, as VMI’s heavyweight junior Josh Wine took an early lead against Liberty’s Josh Pelletier. Wine started off with an escape, but Pelletier matched it with his own escape.

After a scoreless first overtime, Pelletier chose the bottom position for the first tiebreaker period. Wine took control throughout the second overtime after he chose bottom and scored a reversal, eventually riding out Pelletier and picking up the 3-1 VMI win.
The Flames did not let that stop them in the second match. Jonathan Childress, wrestling in the 125-pound weight class, took a 5-3 decision win against John Rope. Childress first scored a takedown and a three-point near fall in the first period. The score stayed the same until the third period when Rope scored a takedown and added an extra point for 1:04 of riding time.

After Childress’ win, Liberty took its first lead in the match with Joey Pantaleo’s victory in the 133-pound weight class against VMI’s Luke Todd. The match remained close until Pantaleo clinched the win with a two-point escape followed by a two-point takedown just before the end of the match. Pantaleo’s 8-3 decision win over Todd gave Liberty an overall lead of 6-3.

Things kept up for the Flames when junior Scott Clymer took another win for Liberty in the 141-pound weight class against Keydets’ David Yost. Clymer held the lead 5-3 in the first two periods, until Yost snuck in a two-point takedown in the middle of the last period.

“Once the score was tied, I knew I really had to step it up and win because I don’t think I could bring myself to face the loss after having control of the whole match,” Clymer said.

With the score tied and the match almost over, Clymer used his 1:46 minutes of riding time to finish with a 7-5 victory for Liberty.
Keydet Michael Long kept the dual score close after his 9-7 victory over Liberty’s Joey Montgomery in the 149-pound weight class. Long held a 4-1 lead after the first period, and managed to keep the win out of reach for Liberty with a reversal and three near-fall points in the second period.

Long’s victory over Montgomery got the Flames’ adrenaline pumping, and started a five-match string of victories for the Flames. Sean Smith started the strong run of wins as he recorded a match-high of six takedowns during his seven-minute match against Joe Munno.

Chad Porter took complete control of the match against 165-pounder Conor Black, by taking the match 11-1 in a major decision, which brought the team score up to 17-7.

Liberty’s Brad Clark followed the lead in the 142-pound weight class. Clark managed to break his personal six-match losing streak with a 10-2 major decision victory over VMI’s Andrew Szymborski. Clark used his experience from wrestling Szymborski previously at the Keystone Classic early this year to aid his victory.

“The coaches have really been making us hit the practice room hard and constantly be doing our best and I feel the combination of that and the good momentum we had during the matches really made me step up and get back on track,” Clark said.

In the 184-pound weight class, Liberty’s Nick Knowles gained the lead in the first period as he led 9-1 against Vinnie Gallo. Knowles added six more points during the second period and held an insurmountable 15-3 lead. Although Gallo tacked on two points in the third, Knowles ended the match with a 15-5 major decision victory.

The last match of the night ended on a high note as Jacobi Johnson had his most dominating match of the season, picking up a 10-2 victory over Ronnie Ellsworth.

Saturday’s match against Campbell was postponed due to inclement weather in the Lynchburg area, and no make-up date has been set. The Flames will face UNC Greensboro on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Vines Center.

Contact Brittany Barclay
at bmbarclay@liberty.edu.

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