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Spartans Overcome Early Deficit to Pick Up Senior Night Victory over Liberty
With the victory, the Spartans, who honored seniors Nathan Berryman, Joe Lowe and Tripp Rogers before the trio competed in their final home match this evening, move to 10-4 on the year. The Flames suffered only the second loss in their last 10 dual match-ups, finishing the regular season at 16-8.
Opening at the 141 weight class, Chris Bencivenga narrowly picked up a 5-4 decision over Tim Harner, ending Liberty's top wrestler's individual 11-match winning streak.
However, the lead was short lived for the Spartans as Liberty claimed victory in the next three match-ups. Aaron Kelley started the Flames' run with a 9-6 decision over Marcus Hannah at 149 pounds to tie the match at three-all.
Shaun Smith kept things going for the Flames at 157 pounds with a 5-1 victory over Nathan Berryman, followed by Chad Porter's 9-3 decision over Mark Ring at 165, which gave Liberty a 9-3 lead.
Those would be Liberty's final points of the match, as UNC Greensboro finished with six-straight victories. Lowe closed out his home career with a 15-0, technical fall victory (5:00) over Joseph Son at 174 pounds, followed by a Kane Smith 6-2 decision over Chris Daggett at 184 pounds. The pair of triumphs allowed the Spartans to recapture the lead, 11-9.
Nick Clark kept the momentum going for UNCG with a 14-1 major decision over Rory Bosek at 197 pounds, and Joe Sheffield picked up a 5-3 win over Patrick Walker at heavyweight, ending Walker's nine-match winning streak.
Christian Smith looked like he was going to halt the string of Spartan victories as the 125-pounder opened up a 6-0 lead in the first period, but Jeff Hedges fought back to record his 22nd victory of the year in an 8-7 decision. Mitchell Johnson closed out the night with a 6-4 sudden victory win over Sam Walters at 133 pounds.
The dual match brings Liberty's regular-season schedule to an end as the Flames now move into postseason competition. The Flames will travel to Pittsburgh, Pa., on March 4 to compete in the NCAA Eastern Regional Qualifier, hosted by Duquesne. At the competition, the Liberty wrestlers will be attempting to qualify for the NCAA National Championship on March 15-17 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
UNC Greensboro 24, Liberty 9
125 – Jeff Hedges (UNCG) dec. Christian Smith (Liberty), 8-7 – UNCG 21-9
133 – Mitchell Johnson (UNCG) dec. Sam Walters (Liberty), 6-4 (SV) – UNCG 24-9
* 141 – Chris Bencivenga (UNCG) dec. Tim Harner (Liberty), 5-4 – UNCG 3-0
149 – Aaron Kelly (Liberty) dec. Marcus Hannah (UNCG), 9-6 – Tied 3-3
157 – Shaun Smith (Liberty) dec. Nathan Berryman (UNCG), 5-1 – Liberty 6-3
165 – Chad Porter (Liberty) dec. Mark Ring (UNCG), 9-3 – Liberty 9-3
174 – Joe Lowe (UNCG) technical fall Joseph Son (Liberty), 15-0 (5:00) – Liberty 9-8
184 – Kane Smith (UNCG) dec. Chris Daggett (Liberty), 6-2 – UNCG 11-9
197 – Nick Clark (UNCG) major dec. Rory Bosek (Liberty), 14-1 – UNCG 15-9
285 – Joe Sheffield (UNCG) dec. Patrick Walker (Liberty), 5-2 – UNCG 18-9
* - Starting weight class