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Wrestling Team Places Seven En Route to Seventh-Place Finish at Brockport/Oklahoma Gold Tournament
Oklahoma won its ninth-straight team title with a convincing 70-point victory, thanks in part to eight different wrestlers finishing atop the brackets in the 10 weight classes. Buffalo followed Oklahoma's 177.5 points to place second with 105.0 points. Kent State rounded out the top three by tallying 103.0 points.
"I am extremely please as to where we are following our first event for this season," commented head coach Jesse Castro. "Compared to this time last year, I think we are a step above. We have upgraded the level of competition this year, evidenced by the quality of wrestling programs that were present at this tournament."
Liberty was among a tight group of four teams, battling for spots four through seven, with 12.5 points separating the quartet of contenders. Army won the battle for fourth with 99.0 points, with the Flames claiming seventh place with 86.5 points.
Liberty's highest finishers on the afternoon were Christian Smith (133 pounds) and Chad Porter (165 pounds), with both wrestlers finishing third in their respective weight classes.
Smith stayed in the championship bracket until eventual weight-class victor Dan Mitcheff of Kent State pinned the Liberty senior in the semifinals. Following an 11-2 major decision win over Kent State's Clayton Stark, Smith defeated Army's Whitt Dunning, 5-4, to claim third.
Porter fell to the consolation bracket early after suffering an 11-8 setback to Oklahoma's Jake Jackson. But the 165-pounder used three-straight major decision wins, including a 14-3 victory over Brown's Chris Musser, to place third in the weight division.
Scott Clymer was a nice surprise for the Flames' coaching staff, with the back-up placing sixth at 149 pounds. After losing to weight-class winner Will Rowe of Oklahoma, 11-1, Clymer pinned Brockport's James Forsyth and blanked Brown's Bryan Tracy, 5-0, before falling to Brown's Mark Bloom, 9-7, in the fifth-place match-up.
At 157 pounds, Shaun Smith placed fourth with a 3-2 record on the afternoon. The sophomore advanced to the semifinals of the championship, before losing to Oklahoma's Chad Terry in an 8-0 major decision. After scratching out a 4-3 win over Brown's Lenny Morandino, Smith dropped a 4-2 decision to Buffalo's John Cummings in the third-place match-up.
Aaron Kelley and Patrick Walker continued the successful season-opening event for the Flames, as the pair of wrestlers placed fifth in their respective weight classes. Kelley, competing at 174 pounds, lost his initial match of the day to Oklahoma's Chris DeVilbiss.
Following two wins by fall and a 13-0 major decision over Rutgers' McPaul Ogbanna, Kelley ran into DeVilbiss again, with the Sooner pinning Kelley 1:12 in the match. Kelley quickly rebounded, recording a 19-11 major decision victory over Army's Dean Gaier to claim fifth place.
In the heavyweight rounds, Walker lost to eventual weight class winner Nathan Fernandez of Oklahoma in his first match of the day, but rebounded to finish the afternoon with a 13-1 major decision win over Rutgers' D.J. Russo in the fifth-place match-up.
Liberty's final grappler to place in the event was Jonathan Campbell at 197, who used wins by fall (4:14 over teammate Jacoby Johnson) and major decision (11-3 over Brown's Brandon Streans) to advance the fifth-place match, where he narrowly lost a 6-5 decision to Bloomsburg's Eric Shaw.
The Flames return to the wrestling mats this weekend, when Liberty travels to Annapolis, Md., to participate in the Navy Classic. Last year, the Flames placed seventh out of 13 teams at the event, thanks to a pair of fourth-place finishes by Tim Harner (141 pounds) and Smith.