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Flames Repeat as East Regional Dual Champs
The event, which was hosted by Duquesne, concluded a season-long series of duals between the seven NCAA East Regional programs. Eight of the event's 21 duals were wrestled prior to day's tournament, including a pair of matchups that had Liberty leading with a 2-0 mark coming into the day-long tournament.
Following five rounds of competition on Saturday, Liberty and Campbell stood knotted atop the team stands as both squads held a 5-1 record. However, because of the Flames' 27-12 victory over the Camels earlier this week in Buies Creek, N.C., Liberty walked away with the team trophy for the second consecutive season.
Nine different Flames finished the day unbeaten, paced by senior Tim Harner, who was named the event's Most Outstanding Wrestler. The Norristown, Pa., native finished the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record, including a technical fall win and his team-leading seventh pin of the year.
It marked the second such honor of his career, as Harner was also named the Most Outstanding Wrestler, following three wins by fall and a major decision in Dover, Del., on Feb. 4, 2007, in the Flames' first showing at the East Regional Duals.
In the initial round of the day, Liberty opened up a 9-6 lead after 141 pounds, as Christian Smith carded an 8-0 major decision, while Harner's 21-6 technical fall offset a Flames' forfeit at 125 pounds.
After Joey Montgomery dropped an 11-2 major decision at 149 pounds and Shaun Smith claimed a 4-1 decision at 157 pounds, Millersville scored consecutive victories by fall to open up a 10 point lead, 22-12.
Liberty took two of the final three bouts, but the deficit was too much to overcome, as Millersville was able to avenge a 38-10 setback to Liberty as last year's East Regional Duals.
Spurred by the first round loss, Liberty came out strong and dropped host Duquesne, taking nine out of 10 weight classes for the second straight matchup at the Duals with a 39-6 win.
This go around, Liberty's lone non-victory was a forfeit at 125 pounds. The following nine bouts went in the Flames favor, including two wins by fall, five decisions and forfeits at 197 pounds and heavyweight to close out the matchup.
Harner carded one of the victories by fall, pinning Jayk Cobbs midway through the first period at 1:38 for six Liberty points. The second came by Aaron Kelley, as the junior stuck Ryan Sula to the mat with 26 seconds left in the third to claim his fifth win by fall of the season.
In Round Three, forfeits netted both squads 12 team points, as Liberty went uncontested at 141 and 149 pounds, while Delaware State claimed forfeit victories at 125 and 174 pounds.
Liberty walked away the victor in five of the remaining six bouts to secure the 33-15 victory over the Hornets. Cameron Hurd spotlighted Liberty's run against Delaware State, as the freshman picked up his first collegiate win by fall when he pinned Tad Bromall at the 4:10.
Josh Duren (7-4/165 pounds), Chris Daggett (7-1/184 pounds) and Andrew Wilson (3-1/heavyweight) took home decisions, while Brandon Johnson was awarded a medical injury forfeit to secure the 18 point dual victory for the Flames.
While Campbell eeked out a narrow 21-19 decision over Millersville on Mat Two, Liberty easily cruised to a 37-6 win over Wagner to eventually secure the overall team title on the day.
After neither team could field a competitor at 125 pounds, Hurd opened up Liberty's convincing win over the Seahawks with a 7-5 decision over Nick Keshecki at 133 pounds.
The two point win by Hurd, which was his second of the day and sixth of the year, was one of two decision wins for the Flames against Wagner. Brad Clark also won by decision, claiming a 5-1 victory over Sean Quinn at 165 pounds.
Liberty's remaining six victories were by a pair of major decisions, two wins by fall and a victory by technical fall.
Highlighting Liberty's win over Wagner in the Flames' first-ever matchup with the Seahawks at the East Regional Duals were wins by fall by Montgomery (1:48/149 pounds) and Smith (5:30/157 pounds).
Of the nine Liberty grapplers to go unbeaten on Saturday, Harner was one of seven to post multiple wins. Daggett was 4-0 on the day, posting three decisions and a major decision to lead Liberty in wins on Saturday. Smith was unbeaten in three trips out to the mat, posting two wins by decision and his first win by fall on the season.
Liberty, who is now 9-9-1 on the season following the day's action, returns to single dual action on Feb. 17, when the Flames travel to Fairfax, Va., to grapple with the Patriots of George Mason. The opening whistle is slated to sound at 7 p.m., inside the Field House.