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Flames Set to Grapple with Patriots Tomorrow
On Feb. 7, Liberty took three out of four dual matches to claim it second consecutive East Regional Dual team championship. On the afternoon, the Flames won three out of four dual matchups to finish atop the season-long standings with a 5-1 mark among NCAA East Regional squads.
The Flames dropped their opening dual to Millersville, 25-21, before reeling off three convincing victories over host Duquesne (39-6), Delaware State (33-15) and Wagner (37-6).
For the second time in his career, Tim Harner was named the event's Outstanding Wrestler, as the senior posted a 3-0.
Liberty's 141-pounder opened the day with a 21-6 technical fall win over Millersville's Sean Andel, before adding a first period fall (1:38) over Duquesne's Jayk Cobbs and a win by forfeit. The trio of victories pushed the senior's total to 20 on the season and 10 in his last 11 bouts.
Chris Daggett was the Flames leading victor on the afternoon, as the 184-pounder recorded an unblemished 4-0 record during the East Regional Duals. The senior opened with three straight decision victories, before closing out the day-long event with a 14-2 major decision win over Wagner's Peter Morano.
Harner and Daggett, along with Christian Smith and Patrick Walker, will look to lead the Flames in avenging last year's 19-18 setback to George Mason inside the Vines Center on Feb. 5.
During the contest, Liberty led most of the matchup, until No. 16 Cayle Byers scored a 19-5 major decision victory over Nick Knowles at 197 pounds in the 10th weight class bout, giving the Patriots just enough points to steal the victory.
Smith, Liberty's starter at 133 pounds, comes into the dual with George Mason riding a five match winning streak to raise his season record to 18-14. Walker, the Flames' starting heavyweight, will be making his return to the mats for the first time since Jan. 17, when he picked up an 8-2 decision victory over N.C. State's Bobby Isola to up his record to 9-5.
George Mason, who has handed the Flames a loss the last seven times to the two squads have tangled on the mats, will once again be led by Byers. This go around, the 197 pound sophomore is ranked No. 9 nationally with a 23-4 overall record and an 11-3 mark in dual matchups.
Byers will be one of two 20 match winners the Patriots will send out to grapple against the Flames, as Frankie McLaughlin is 20-9 this year at 157 pounds. Mendbaganna Tuvuujav (18-7/174 pounds) and Denny Herndon (18-8/133 pounds) give George Mason two additional formidable foes, with Tuvuuja being ranked No. 20 in the Feb. 3 national listing.
The matchup begins a three-dual stretch that will wrap up the Flames' regular season. Following the squabble with the Patriots, the Flames will host VMI, on Thursday, and Appalachian State, on Feb. 23, before heading to Boiling Springs, N.C., to defend its NCAA East Regional title on March 7.
Probable Starters – Liberty vs. George Mason (Season Records)
125 – None vs. Brian Wright
133 – Christian Smith (18-14) vs. Denny Herndon (18-8)
141 – Tim Harner (20-8) vs. John Delgado (5-13)
149 – Frankie Gayeski (8-16) vs. Brandon Bucher (4-12)
157 – Julian Colon (6-10) vs. Frankie McLaughlin (20-9)
165 – Brad Clark (13-12) vs. Jimmy Kaden (10-9)
174 – Aaron Kelley (13-15) vs. Mendbaganna Tovuujav (18-7)
184 – Chris Daggett (19-13) vs. Zach Ulm (4-8)
197 – Brandon Johnson (8-16) vs. No. 9 Cayle Byers (23-4)
285 – Patrick Walker (9-5) vs. Mike Peterson (3-8)