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Porter Highlights First Day at NCAA Nationals

March 20, 2008
|  St. Louis, Mo.
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Chad Porter picked up Liberty's lone championship round victory on Thursday at the NCAA National Championships.

Chad Porter picked up Liberty's lone championship round victory on Thursday at the NCAA National Championships.

Chad Porter spotlighted the beginning of Liberty's second-consecutive year at the NCAA National Wrestling Championship, claiming the program's first-ever championship round victory on Thursday.

Porter, competing at 165 pounds, was one of four wrestlers making their second-straight appearance at the three-day national event, this year hosted at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.

Last year, Porter, along with Christian Smith, Tim Harner and Patrick Walker, made the trek north to Ann Arbor, Mich., to participate in the 2007 NCAA National Wrestling Championship during the program's return season following a 12-year hiatus.

During last year's national tournament, Walker was the lone winner for Liberty, posting a victory during the consolation round.

This season, Liberty claimed its second-consecutive NCAA East Regional title, thanks in part to six individual weight class champions. The quartet of national qualifiers from last year was joined this season by Aaron Kelley and Chris Daggett.

Porter was the Flames' sole winner on the first day of the event, opening with a 7-6 victory over No. 16-ranked Kurt Swartz from Boise State. Later in the day, the 165-pounder dropped a 10-2 major decision to Michigan's Eric Tannenbaum, the nation's top-rated grappler at the weight class, leaving all six of Liberty's wrestlers in the consolation rounds.

Below is a match-by-match breakdown of Liberty's opening day at the 2008 NCAA National Wrestling Championship:

Christian Smith (133 pounds)
Championship Round – L/ 4-13 vs. Patrick Castillo (Northern Illinois)

Christian Smith opened the national championship with a 13-4 major decision loss to Northern Illinois' Patrick Castillo. The No. 10-seeded and ranked wrestler opened the championship with a 9-2 decision over Cal Poly's Borislay Novachkov in a pig-tail match.

Early in the first round against Smith, the match-up was tied 2-2 before Castillo used an escape and a two-point takedown to open up a 5-2 lead following the first three minutes on the mats. The dual remained close until the third (7-3), where Castillo scored six points over the last 120 seconds to secure the nine-point victory.

Tim Harner (141 pounds)
Championship Round – L/ 0-8 vs. Charles Griffin (Hofstra)

Tim Harner, ranked third on the squad with 26 victories on the year, drew Hofstra's Charles Griffin in the opening round. The Pride wrestler entered the NCAA Championship ranked No. 3 nationally and seeded No. 2 in the 141-pound bracket.

The match remained scoreless for the first two minutes until Griffin scored a two-point takedown with two near-fall points to open up a 4-0 lead.

Griffin continued to keep Harner off balance the remainder of the match, scoring two in the second off a reversal and two more in the third off a takedown to secure the 8-0 major decision win.

Chad Porter (165 pounds)
Championship Round – W/ 6-4 vs. Kurt Swartz (Boise State)

Chad Porter got Liberty its first victory at the 2008 NCAA National Championship, taking a 6-4 decision over No. 16-ranked Kurt Swartz in the second bout of the day at 165 pounds.

Following a low-scoring first period that saw Kurt Swartz up 2-1 after an early takedown, Porter jumped into the lead with a reversal in the second, 3-2.

Swartz regained the lead temporarily in the opening seconds of the third with an early takedown, before the Liberty sophomore escaped and moved in with his own takedown to clinch the 6-4 victory and advance in the winner's bracket.

Championship Round – L/ 2-10 vs. Eric Tannenbaum (Michigan)

Eric Tannenbaum, known for his quick moves early in a match, lived up to his billing, scoring an early takedown en route to a 4-1 lead following the first period over Chad Porter.

Choosing bottom to open the second, Porter quickly escaped to pull within two of the nation's top-ranked 165-pound wrestler. But, the senior proved why he is the favorite to claim a national title by the end of the day on Saturday, reeling off five-straight points to secure the victory.

Following Porter's escape to open the second, Tannenbaum took down Liberty's junior later in the round to claim a 6-2 lead heading into the third.

Tannenbaum scored a quick escape to open the final two minutes of action, before recording his fourth and final takedown. Content to overpower Porter the rest of the way, Michigan's top-rated wrestler controlled the pace during the remainder of the match to claim riding time for the eight-point major decision, 10-2.

Aaron Kelley (174 pounds)
Championship Round – L/ 6-7 vs. Steve Aneravage (Cornell)

Aaron Kelley looked like he might pick up the Flames' second victory on the afternoon, as he entered the third with a 6-5 lead. However, Cornell's Steve Aneravage, ranked and seeded No. 11, scored two points in the third to steal a 7-6 decision at 174 pounds.

Aneravage held a 3-2 lead following the first, with both grapplers scoring a takedown, while the Big Red junior's escape gave him the early lead.

The Cornell wrestler pushed his lead to three, 5-2, following his second takedown. But, Kelley came storming back, with a reversal and two near-fall points, swinging the three-point deficit to a one-point lead with 120 seconds remaining.

However, Anceravage scored the only two points recorded during the final period, beginning with an escape followed by another for riding time to procure the one-point see-saw battle victory, 7-6.

Chris Daggett (184 pounds)
Championship Round – L/ 1-5 vs. Zack Giesen (Stanford)

Chris Daggett, the second of Liberty's newcomers to the national scene, maintained a scoreless tie in the opening period before Stanford's Zack Giesen scored four out of his five points in the second to take a 5-1 decision.

Following 180 seconds of scoreless wrestling, Giesen finally got on the scoreboard, but not by his own doing. Daggett was penalized a point for consecutive false starts to begin a four-point period for Giesen.

The Cardinal's sophomore continued to score with an escape and a two-point takedown before Daggett scored his first point with an escape of his own just before the whistle blew.

Neither grappler could score points during the final two minutes of the match, but Giesen finished with the riding-time advantage to complete the 5-1 decision.

Patrick Walker (285 pounds)
Championship Round – L/ fall (0:27) vs. J.D. Bergman (Ohio State)

Patrick Walker, Liberty's most celebrated wrestling coming into the championship, suffered the most stunning defeat of the Flames' grapplers, when the sophomore was pinned by Ohio State's J.D. Bergman in the opening seconds of the first period.

Walker, who entered the national event ranked No. 16 in the country, got little respect from the seeding committee for his 31-9 record, as the heavyweight drew Bergman, ranked No. 2 in the nation and the No. 2 seed in the tournament.

Bergman took down Walker early in the match, which the sophomore could not escape from, as 27 seconds from the opening whistle, Ohio State's top wrestler pinned Walker for the quick victory.