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Flames Split Pair with Patriots and Spartans
With the split on the evening, Liberty raises its dual meet record to 11-10-1 on the year. George Mason won both its duals to improve to 11-3 on the season, while a pair of losses drops UNC Greensboro's dual record to 8-7.
In the opening dual of the evening, in-state foes Liberty and George Mason battled back and forth, with the lead changing hands six times. However, No. 16 Cayle Byers ended the see-saw battle by getting a major decision win in the final bout to give George Mason a 19-18 comeback victory over Liberty.
In the nightcap, UNC Greensboro had a slight three-point lead midway through the bout until Liberty won four straight to secure its eighth dual win in its last 10 trips to the mats. The win also avenges a 24-9 loss the Flames suffered at the hands of the Spartans last season.
The Flames will take the weekend off before returning the mats on Feb. 13, when Liberty travels to Boone, N.C., to square off against Appalachian State. The dual, which begins at 7 p.m., will be Liberty's second to last before hosting the NCAA East Regionals on March 9.
George Mason 19, Liberty 18
Patrick Walker gave the Flames a four-point lead right off the bat, as the match-up with the Patriots opened at heavyweight. The sophomore used a set of takedowns, a reversal and riding time to post a 9-1 major decision victory over Brian Wright.
At 125 pounds, George Mason got on the scoreboard when Brian Wright used three points in the third to take a 5-2 decision over Sean Katz, cutting Liberty's lead to one, 4-3.
Joe Coughlin gave the Patriots their first lead of the match, 6-4, following a 6-2 win over T.J. Mitchell at 133 pounds. The bout remained scoreless until the second, followed by four points in the third by Coughlin to secure the victory.
Tim Harner pushed his winning streak to seven with a 7-3 victory at 141 pounds over Will Powars. Harner used three takedowns to overpower Powars, who could only muster three points by virtue of escapes, giving Liberty a 7-6 lead.
The bout at 157 pounds remained scoreless until 15 seconds remained in the third period, when Scott Clymer ended the stalemate with a two-point reversal to take a 2-0 decision. The victory over Brandon Bucher gave Liberty a 10-6 edge midway through the dual.
The Patriots pulled within one point of Liberty in the dual, 10-9, following a low-scoring 3-2 decision victory by Frankie McLaughlin, who fought off a late charge by Julian Colon at 157 pounds.
At 165 pounds, Chad Porter gave Liberty its largest margin of victory in the dual against George Mason with a 16-3 major decision win over Andrew Rock. Porter scored three takedowns and two more near-fall points in the third en route to his team-leading ninth major decision victory of the year. The four team points lifted Liberty's edge to 14-9.
But the lead was short lived, as Randy Oates overcame an early advantage by Aaron Kelley by pinning the sophomore at 1:56 to allow George Mason to regain the lead, 15-14, at 174 pounds.
Liberty reclaimed the advantage in the see-saw battle at 184 pounds, as Chris Daggett dominated his opponent with a 16-5 major decision victory over Bill Widener, staking the Flames to a brief 18-15 edge.
However, the Patriots sent their top wrestler to the mats for the final bout in Cayle Byers, and the No. 16-ranked grappler didn't disappoint, running his record to 30-5 on the year with a 19-5 major decision over Nick Knowles to secure the one-point dual victory for George Mason.
Liberty 21, UNC Greensboro 15
Opening at heavyweight, both grapplers scored escape points, leaving the match knotted at 1-1 until Patrick Walker got a two-point takedown with 16 seconds left in the match. His last-minute effort enabled him to take a 3-1 decision and give Liberty a 3-0 lead.
The Spartans tied the match at 3-3 following the 125 bout, as Liberty's Sean Katz and UNC Greensboro's Mitchell Johnson grappled in a high-scoring affair, which was tied 11-11 after seven minutes. But Johnson got a two-point takedown 20 seconds into the overtime period to claim a 13-11 decision win.
The Spartans took their first lead, 6-3, at 133 pounds with an 8-2 decision victory by Jeff Hedges. The No. 17-ranked wrestler used three takedowns and riding time to defeat T.J. Mitchell and pick up his 21st victory on the year.
The back and forth battle continued at 141 pounds, when Tim Harner claimed a 10-5 decision over Ben Wilmore, tying the dual at 6-6. For Harner, it was his 25th victory of the season.
In the second low-scoring bout of the dual, Marcus Hannah used a third-period escape and takedown to pick up a 3-2 victory over Scott Clymer at 149 pounds, providing UNC Greensboro another three-point edge, 9-6.
At 157 pounds, Liberty's Julian Colon used two takedowns and riding time to claim a 5-3 decision over Mark Ring, marking the fourth time the dual was tied, this time at 9-9.
The Flames finally snapped the string of traded bouts by winning their first consecutive matches of the dual. The 165-pound match was scoreless until 12 seconds remained in the second period. However, Chad Porter scored six points in the third to claim an 8-1 decision over Byron Sigmon.
Liberty opened up a sizeable lead, 18-9, with the first fall of the dual, as Aaron Kelley pinned Mikal McKee in the first period (1:48) to give the homestanding Flames control of the dual at 174.
Chris Daggett secured the dual victory for the Flames with a 4-2 decision win at 184 pounds, scoring four points in the first to give Liberty the victory. Liberty forfeited at 197 pounds, awarding No. 11 Daren Burns his 27th victory of the season.