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LU to Face Wolfpack and Cowboys Tomorrow
Liberty, who enters the weekend with a 5-5 dual record, opens the tri-match schedule against Wyoming at 1 p.m., and will face N.C. State at 4:30 p.m. The Wolfpack and Cowboys will face off against each other between Liberty's bouts at 3 p.m.
Liberty is coming off a showing at last weekend's Virginia Duals, where the Flames posted a 1-2 record. However, both of Liberty's setbacks came to Top 25 programs. Liberty opened the dual tournament with a 27-15 loss to No. 13 Central Michigan, who eventually went on to take home the team title at the two-day event.
Liberty staved off elimination from the tournament with a 25-16 victory over Northern Colorado with a strong finish, taking the last five weight-class match-ups. The victory pitted the Flames against No. 22 Penn, with the bout ending in a 35-9 dual win for the Quakers.
The Flames will run a very similar line-up out to the mats this weekend, when they face off against N.C. State and Wyoming, paced by Tim Harner, Aaron Kelley, Christian Smith and Patrick Walker.
Harner was a shining star for Liberty last weekend, posting a perfect 3-0 record at 141 pounds. All three of his wins came by fall, with one coming in the first period and two coming in the second. The trio of victories raised the senior's overall record to 13-7 and 6-2 since returning to his former weight class.
Walker and Kelley both finished the two-day event with a similar 2-1 mark. Kelley opened the dual tournament with a win by fall and a major decision victory at 174 pounds, before suffering a narrow two-point setback in his Penn match-up.
Walker's pair of victories in his weight division allowed the junior to regain national ranking status, as the heavyweight is now ranked No. 30 by the Wrestling Report with a 7-4 season record. He began the Virginia Duals with a two-point decision, before blanking Northern Colorado's Justin Truell, 8-0, to seal Liberty's victory over the Bears.
Smith will be looking to make a comeback for the Flames this weekend, after the senior went winless last weekend at the Duals in three match-ups.
Liberty's team leader in individual victories going into the event at 133 pounds, dropped a two-point decision to the No. 13 ranked wrestler in his weight class, before losing a pair of narrow decisions to fall to 14-12 on the season.
Wyoming had a similar outcome to Liberty at their tournament last weekend, when they posted a 1-2 record at the NWCA National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Wyoming opened with a 38-3 loss to No. 1 Iowa, swiftly falling into the consolation bracket.
After knocking off Buffalo, 24-10, the Cowboys gave No. 16 Boise State all it could handle, before the Broncos eventually finished off the bout to capture the 24-15 win. Wyoming, who had won its first three duals of the year, now stands 4-2 on the season.
The Cowboys will run a pair of nationally ranked grapplers out on the mats on Saturday in Shane Onufer and Joe LeBlanc.
Onufer, ranked No. 17 at 174 pounds, is one of four Wyoming wrestlers with 20 or more victories on the year. The redshirt freshman is 27-5 on the year and leads the Cowboys with 11 wins by fall.
LeBlanc is rated No. 9 in the latest polls at 184 pounds. His 27-5 overall record is aided by eight wins by major decision, four more by fall and two additional by technical fall.
Host N.C. State will be looking for a bit of revenge, when they welcome the Flames to the Reynolds Coliseum mats on Saturday.
The Wolfpack, who was coming off their 2007 ACC championship season, was stunned by Liberty last year, when a second-year Flames' program snuck out an 18-18 draw against the seasoned N.C. State program inside the Vines Center on Jan. 12.
N.C. State also has two wrestlers who are recognized among the nation's elite grapplers. Both are unbeaten in the 2008-09 season, starting with Joe Caramanica, who is 9-0 and ranked No. 12 at 141 pounds. Darrion Caldwell leads the Wolfpack with 24 victories and is rated No. 3 at 149 pounds with a 24-0 record.
Comparing probable line-ups against each other, the only scheduled rematch in this year's bout is at heavyweight. Last year, Walker defeated Bobby Isola in a 10-4 decision.
Tri Match-Up Probable Line-Up:
125 – Joe Pantaleo (11-7)
133 – Christian Smith (14-12)
141 – Tim Harner (13-7)
149 – Frankie Gayeski (6-14)
157 – Shaun Smith (3-9)
165 – Brad Clark (10-10)
174 – Aaron Kelley (10-11)
184 – Chris Daggett (13-11)
197 – Brandon Johnson (4-12)
285 – No. 30 Patrick Walker (7-4)
125 – Michael Martinez (24-7)
133 – Cory VomBaur (15-11)
141 – Cole Dallaserra (14-8)
149 – Chase Smith (18-14)
157 – Eric Coxbill (14-9)
165 – Alex Rieder (20-12)
174 – No. 17 Shane Onufer (29-7)
184 – No. 9 Joe LeBlanc (27-5)
197 – Alfonso Hernandez (15-13)
HWT – Jacob Scharbrough (17-12)
N.C. State (3-6)
125 – Mike Moreno (6-6)
133 – Dariuss Little (10-9)
141 – No. 12 Joe Caramanica (9-0)
149 – No. 3 Darrion Caldwell (24-0)
157 – Kody Hamrah (19-6)
165 – Ray Ward (2-4) or Quinton Godley (9-14)
174 – Jake Burge (10-7)
184 – Mark Jahad (1-5)
197 – N/A
HWT – Bobby Isola (2-9)