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Smith Falls to Hutter to End NCAA Tourney Run

March 20, 2009
|  St. Louis, Mo.
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Christian Smith has his 2009 NCAA National Championship run come to an end on Friday with a 9-5 decision setback to Old Dominion's Kyle Hutter.

Christian Smith has his 2009 NCAA National Championship run come to an end on Friday with a 9-5 decision setback to Old Dominion's Kyle Hutter.

Christian Smith narrowly missed giving the Flames consecutive years with round of 16 participants at the national championship, as the senior bowed out of the 2009 NCAA National Wrestling Championship, Friday morning, after a decision loss in the wrestleback bracket.

At last year's championship event, Liberty had a pair of grapplers advance to the round of 16 in the wrestleback bracket, as Tim Harner (141 pounds) and Chad Porter (165 pounds) each accomplished the feat.

Smith, a four-time national qualifier, earned his first-ever national championship victory in seven tries when he opened yesterday's event with a 7-6 decision over Virginia's Matt Bonson. In the second session last night, the senior dropped a 16-7 major decision to No. 2 seed Reece Humphrey, which sent Smith into today's consolation matchup with Old Dominion's Kyle Hutter.

The matchup was the second between Hutter and Smith during their collegiate careers. Hutter got the best of Smith during their first encounter, as the Monarch's grappler picked up a 6-3 decision over Smith at the Virginia Duals on Jan. 12, 2007, when both student-athletes were competing at 125 pounds.

This time around, neither wrestler gained an advantage early on, as the bout remained scoreless following three minutes of action.

Hutter choose bottom to open the middle period and snuck away from Smith, gaining the matchup's first point three seconds into the period. Smith countered with a two-point takedown for the momentary lead, before Hutter escaped and gained control of Smith with his own takedown to cling to a 4-2 advantage after five minutes on the mats.

The back and forth squabble continued during the final period, as Smith reversed Hutter out of the bottom position to knot the bout at 4-4 midway through the third.

However, Hutter answered Smith again, this time with his own reversal to gain the lead. Liberty's senior escaped Hutter's grasp and drew within one, 6-5, with his first escape of the bout. But it was not enough, as Hutter tacked on his second takedown during the seven minutes of action, while adding a riding time advantage to secure the four-point decision, 9-5.

The setback brings to a close Liberty's 2008-09 season and Smith's collegiate career. The Suffolk, Va., finished the season with a 25-16 mark, falling one win shy of his Liberty career high of 26 wins set during the 2006-07 campaign.

During his three years at Liberty, Smith officially posted a 52-63 record, a mark that could have included 16 more wins had the NCAA not turned his 16-14 record into losses after he was ruled ineligible based upon factors beyond his control last year.

Adding in the two-time collegiate transfer's record as an ACC champion for Duke in 2005, Smith posted a 95-80 overall collegiate record.

As a team, Liberty wraps up the 2008-09 campaign with a 12-9-1 dual meet record, and its third-consecutive appearance at the NCAA National Wrestling Championship. The Flames, who have now sent 14 grapplers to the national title event over the past three years, will have to await their final 2009 national team ranking, following the conclusion of action at this year's title event on Saturday.

At the end of the first day's action, the Flames were tied with Cleveland State, Lock Haven, UC Davis and UNC Greensboro for 55th place out of 76 programs, thanks to Smith's two team points. In 2007, the Flames finished tied for 49th place (out of 74 teams) with three points, while Liberty was tied for 51st (out of 74 teams) with three points again last year.