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Walker Leads Flames at Midlands Championship
Iowa, the nation's top ranked wrestling program according to the latest USA Today/Intermat/NWCA Division I poll claimed the team title with 185 points, thanks to four weight-class victories. Iowa State, ranked just behind Iowa at No. 2 in the last poll, finished second with 139 points. Liberty ended the two-day event tied with Montana State Northern, as both squads tallied nine points.
After losing a narrow 4-3 decision to Iowa's Matt Fields, who is ranked No. 5 nationally and was the fourth-seeded wrestler in the heavyweight bracket, Walker was dropped into the Wrestleback bracket.
Walker's first of four-straight victories came with a win by fall (1:43) over Southern Illinois' Brian Brooks, followed by a 10-4 decision win over Iowa's Blake Rasing.
The heavyweight followed with a pair of decision wins over ninth-seeded Rashard Goff of Cleveland State, 5-2, and Peacock Wrestling Club's Dan Goodson, 6-1. He bowed out of the event following a 7-2 decision loss to seventh-seeded Zach Sheaffer of Pittsburgh.
Christian Smith posted a 2-2 record in his second-straight showing at the Midlands Championship. Smith, competing up a weight class this year at 133 pounds, won his opening bout with a third-period pin (6:25) of Nebraska-Kearney's Joey Morrison, before dropping to the Wrestleback bracket after an 11-2 major decision loss to sixth-seeded Pat Castillo of Northern Illinois.
Following a 5-2 decision win over Iowa's Tyler Halverson, Smith's run at the Midlands was halted by another major decision, this time at the hands of Tennessee-Chattanooga's Steve Hromada, 11-4.
Liberty's final wrestler to compete at the Midlands Championship was Chad Porter, with the 165-pounder finishing with a 0-2 record.
Porter dropped his opening match-up with eighth-seeded Tim Palmer of UW LaCrosse in an 8-4 decision, followed by 4-2 decision loss to Air Force's Steve Crozier in the Wrestleback bracket.
The trio of wrestlers will join the remainder of the squad this Saturday when Liberty travels to Charlottesville, Va., to compete in the Virginia State Intercollegiates, hosted by Virginia.
Last year, Liberty placed third out of seven teams at the Commonwealth event, with Smith and Tim Harner (141 pounds) claiming weight-class titles.