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Flames Head to Bucknell for Weekend Dual
The Flames and the Bison have grappled against each other the last two seasons, with the visiting squad walking way with the victory in both outings. Last year, Bucknell kept Liberty from sweeping all four matches at the Liberty Quad on Jan. 26, when the Bison won eight out of 10 weight class bouts to capture a 25-9 dual victory.
Two years ago at Davis Gym in Lewisburg, the Bison seemed in control of the dual with an 18-3 lead after four bouts. However, a pin by Patrick Walker at heavyweight got things rolling for Liberty, who won five of the remaining six match-ups for a stunning come-from-behind 25-24 victory on Jan. 19, 2007.
Bucknell comes into the dual with a 7-6 overall record, including a 2-2 mark in the well-respected Eastern International Wrestling Association. However, four of the Bison's six setbacks have come against Top 25 programs.
The Flames and the Bison could have previously met already this year, as they both participated in the Virginia Duals on Jan. 9-10 in Hampton, Va. Both squads suffered losses to ranked opponents in the opening round and posted 1-2 records during the weekend event.
Bucknell was victorious when it last took to the wrestling mat in a 20-12 road win over Brown, last Saturday. The Bison took six of the first eight individual bouts to open up a commanding lead in a close dual, where nine out of 10 match-ups were determined by decision.
Andy Rendos has Bucknell's best winning percentage and is ranked No. 12 at 165 pounds, thanks to a 20-3 record. The junior is 2-2 this year against nationally ranked grapplers, including a stunning 3-1 victory over then No. 1 ranked Nick Marable from Missouri at home.
Four other Bison wrestlers received national rankings in the latest WrestlingReport.com listing, led by No. 17 Dave Marble at 133 pounds. The junior, who has won five out of his last six bouts and is 19-6 overall this year, was ranked No. 15 last year, when he eeked out a 7-5 decision victory over the Flames' T.J. Mitchell.
The trio of remaining ranked grapplers for Bucknell are No. 25 Derek Reber at 125 pounds, No. 25 Shane Riccio at 174 pounds and No. 32 Kevin LeValley at 149 pounds. All three wrestlers have reached the 20-win plateau this year, paced by Reber's 23-7 mark.
The Flames will be looking to snap a three match winless streak, after suffering a loss and notching a draw in a tri-match at N.C. State last weekend. Liberty opened the day against Wyoming, where an experienced Cowboys' roster posted a convincing 44-3 win in the morning session.
Liberty regrouped in the afternoon, wrestling the homestanding Wolfpack to a 22-22 stalement, marking the second straight season Liberty and N.C. State have tied in their dual match-up.
A different looking Flames' line-up will seek leadership and stability from Tim Harner at 141 pounds. The senior, who will be wrestling a mere 150 miles from his hometown of Norristown, Pa., has claimed victory his last five trips onto the mat, including one of the most notable victories in program history last weekend to run his mark to 15-7 on the season.
In the morning, Harner picked up Liberty's lone three team points with a 7-2 decision over Wyoming's Cole Dallaserra, before dominating N.C. State's Joe Caramancia in a 10-2 major decision win.
The senior's victory marked the highest ranked opponent a Liberty grappler has defeated since the program was reinstated three years ago, as Caramancia entered the weekend ranked No. 11 in the country.
Thanks to the recent run of success, Harner is ranked No. 23 in the latest WrestlingReport.Com listing at 141 pounds, along with Patrick Walker, who is rated No. 31 at heavyweight.
Last weekend, the junior suffered a setback by fall against Wyoming's Jacob Scharbrough, before rebounding with an 8-2 decision over N.C. State's Bobby Isola to elevate his season record to 8-5.
Liberty, who is slated to run three relative newcomers into the starting line-up this weekend, will also look for a solid performance from Chris Daggett. The senior 184-pounder has won two out of his last three bouts to raise his record to 14-11, which ranks third on the team in wins.
Daggett is the lone Flame slated for a possible repeat match-up from last year's Bucknell dual in the Schilling Center. David Thompson scratched out 7-6 decision over Daggett, keeping a run of six straight Bison victories alive en route to the 16 point team victory for the visitors.
Dual Match-Up Probable Line-Up (Individual Records):
125 – Unknown vs. NR/No. 25 Derek Reber (23-7)
133 – Cameron Hurd (4-3) vs. NR/No. 17 Dave Marble (19-6)
141 – NR/No. 23 Tim Harner (15-7) vs. Adam Healey (15-13)
149 – Frankie Gayeski (6-15) vs. NR/No. 32 Kevin LeValley (20-8)
157 – Julian Colon (7-7) vs. Tyler Riccio (7-10) or John Regan (11-6)
165 – Josh Duren (4-8) vs. No. 12/No. 10 Andy Rendos (20-3)
174 – Eli Sanchez (2-3) or NR/No. 25 Shane Riccio (22-11)
184 – Chris Daggett (14-11) vs. David Thompson (13-10) or Rob Waltko (8-9)
197 – Brandon Johnson (5-12) vs. Nathan Jones (7-16) or Jay Hahn (13-13)
HWT – NR/No. 31 Patrick Walker (8-5) vs. Unknown
Note: Probable line-up is list as Liberty vs. Bucknell wrestler … national rankings are from InterMat / WrestlingReport.com