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Wrestling Takes One in Princeton
Liberty wrestling split a pair of dual matches for the second time this season, as the Flames dropped their opening match to Binghamton, 25-13 and then defeated host Princeton, 28-15 inside Dillon Gymnasium on Friday evening.
Binghamton came out on top for the day with a 2-0 record, after defeating Princeton 24-11. Princeton was not able to pick up a victory, going 0-2 in their first dual matches of the season. The Flames 1-1 record on the day moves them to 5-3 in dual matches this season following a month of action.
Despite winning the first two bouts in the opening match with defending Colonial Athletic Association champion Binghamton, the Flames dropped the middle six contests, falling to the Bearcats, 25-13.
Joel Stafford started the Flames off quickly at 125 pounds, taking a 6-3 advantage after one period of action over Ryan Gerondel. After maintaining his three-point edge, Stafford added five takedowns in the final period, and added a point for riding time to take the bout, 19-9 and give the Flames the early 4-0 edge.
T.J. Mitchell extended the Flames lead by earning a 12-5 decision over Dan Riggi. Mitchell scored a takedown and a two-point near fall to open the bout. After extending his lead to 9-3 through two periods, Mitchell added a takedown and gained the riding time bonus to win 12-5.
The next six bouts proved to be tough competition, as the Bearcats next six grapplers had a combined 47-17 record already this year. Two of those Binghamton grapplers, Justin Listor (157 pounds) and Nate Schiedel (184 pounds), currently hold a No. 14 national ranking in their respective weight classes.
At 141 pounds, Seth Hicks fell behind 4-1 after the first period, and would not be able to regain momentum, losing a 13-5 major decision to Anwar Goeres.
Similarly to his teammate, Scott Clymer fell behind 4-1 in the first period to Donnie Vinson at 149 pounds. Clymer only was able to score by escaping one more time, while Vinson added two takedowns, an escape and gained riding time bonus to gain the 10-2 major decision, giving the Bearcats a 8-7 edge in the match.
Julian Colon then faced the Bearcats' first ranked wrestler at 157 pounds, Justin Listor. Colon held his own early, but Listor pulled away in the final two periods of action to win the 9-2 decision.
At 165 pounds, Chad Porter made just his second start of the season, as he continues to come back from an injury. Justin Kaylor, who was 11-3 already this season for the Bearcats, continued his early season success by earning five takedowns in the first period alone on his way to the 20-6 major decision.
Freshmen Royal Brettrager II (174 pounds) and Marcus Nielson (184 pounds) encountered similar results, as each dropped their matches by technical fall. Brettrager II faced an experienced senior in Ryan McGarity, who earned the 22-6 win in the third period. Nielson also was defeated in the third period, 17-2 by No. 14 Nate Schiedel.
The Flames were able to take the final two bouts, but the dual result was already out of reach, as the Bearcats had a 25-7 edge at that point.
Aaron Thompson continued his impressive action this year, rolling off his sixth-straight victory with a 3-2 decision at 197 pounds. After finishing the first period deadlocked at zero, Cody Reed gained one point by escaping to take a 1-0 lead into the final period. In the waning seconds of the bout, Thompson managed an escape and a takedown to erase his deficit and come out with the win.
Josh Pelletier once again was successful at heavyweight, earning his team-leading eighth victory of the year by a 7-1 margin.
In the second match, the Flames found themselves behind after two bouts, but only dropped one of the final eight matches to earn the 28-15 win over the Princeton Tigers.
At 125 pounds, Stafford was pinned 1:16 into the match by Garrett Frey, who currently is ranked No. 13 in the nation in the lightweight class.
In one of the most exciting matches on the day, Mitchell took Adam Krop into several extra time periods at 133 pounds. The lone points in regulation of the match came by escapes from each grappler. After no one was able to score in the first minute overtime period, each scored once again by escapes in thirty second time frames. Still being tied, another minute ensued, where Krop earned the victory by a controversial call of a takedown, giving the Tigers the 9-0 early edge.
Hicks swung momentum for the Flames at 141 pounds by earning a hard fought 6-5 decision. Entering the final period down 3-2, Hicks escaped after starting the period in the down position. Zach Bintliff added a takedown to break the tie, but Hicks recovered by scoring a reversal with just over a minute remaining in the bout. After holding his position, the riding time bonus gave Hicks the 6-5 edge to give Liberty its first win in the match.
At 149 pounds, Clymer scored three takedowns, an escape and added a point for riding time to earn the 8-0 major decision over Luis Ramos, to pull the Flames within two, 9-7.
Colon scored a takedown with just four seconds remaining in the first period to take control of his bout at 157 pounds. Colon added three takedowns, an escape and received another point for riding time to earn a 10-2 major decision over Brandon Rolnick, giving the Flames the 11-9 lead which they would not let go of.
Chad Porter gave the Flames their first victory of the season at 165 pounds by pinning Daniel Kolodzik in 2:33.
Brettrager II faced fellow freshman Ryan Callahan at 174 pounds, looking to avenge a sudden victory loss to the Tiger grappler at the Keystone Classic. After one period, the two found themselves tied at four. With Callahan starting down in the second period, he escaped and scored a takedown, while Brettrager II scored a reversal to enter the final period trailing 7-6. Brettrager II escaped to tie the bout and continued a fast paced attack to tire Callahan, as Brettrager II scored a takedown with under 20 seconds remaining to earn the 9-7 decision.
The Tigers earned their third and final bout win at 184 pounds, as Travis Erdman pinned Nielson just 36 seconds into the contest, pulling Princeton within just five at 20-15.
The Flames, however, took the final two bouts with ease, as Thompson and Pelletier each earned their second victory of the day. Thompson defeated Charles Fox, 12-3, while Pelletier blanked Bobby Grogan, 8-0, to give the Flames the 28-15 win.
The Flames next contest comes on Dec. 11, when they invite Campbell to the Schilling Center to host the first of four dual matches on Liberty Mountain this season. Additionally, the Flames host the NCAA East Regional Championships on March 6 in the Vines Center.
Match time for Saturday's dual against Campbell, an NCAA East opponent, is slated for 4 p.m.