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Wrestling Set to Open Against Campbellsville
Three-time defending NCAA East Regional champion Liberty will officially kick off its march toward a fourth regional title tomorrow, when they open the 2009-10 season with a home dual against Campbellsville. Match time is set for Noon inside the Schilling Center on Liberty Mountain.
The Flames are coming off a season where Liberty posted a 12-9-1 dual meet record, thanks to six-straight dual meet victories to close out the regular season.
Since the program was reinstated for the 2006-07 season, the Flames have posted an 11-2-1 record in home duals, thanks to unblemished records during the 2006-07 (5-0-0) and 2008-09 (3-0-0) seasons.
The Flames have three former national qualifiers on its 2009-10 roster, two which will compete during the year, along with six grapplers who registered 10 or more victories last season.
Leading the way for Liberty is Chad Porter, who redshirted during the 2008-09 season. The 165-pounder, who is ranked No. 16 in the preseason D1CollegeWrestling.com rankings, posted a 61-32 record during his first two years with the program, both of which led to trips to the national championship.
Following behind Porter are two fellow senior team captains in Shaun Smith and Frankie Gayeski.
Smith made his first trip to the national championship last year, after he won his last seven bouts of the year to capture the 157-pound title at the NCAA East Regionals. Smith comes into the season with the second most victories on the squad, having won 44 matches during his three-year career with the Flames.
After moving to 149 pounds midway through the year, Gayeski started to settle into the division and posted an 11-10 record at the upper weight class during his first year with the program. The former Lehigh grappler won his last six bouts of the year, before falling to No. 10 Matt Cathell of Delaware State in the regional finals.
Among the Flames other 10-match winners who have a possibility of starting in tomorrow's dual are Joe Pantaleo and Jacoby Johnson.
Pantaleo had a promising start to his first collegiate season, posting an 11-7 record at 125 pounds through the first half of the year. However, the rookie suffered an injury before the Virginia Duals and was forced to sit out the remainder of the season.
Johnson, who will be battling Brandon Lawrence for the starting spot at 197 pounds, had his most fruitful year in a Liberty singlet last season, as the Goldsboro, N.C., native finished the season with 10 victories.
The Flames will face a formidable foe in their opener, as Campbellsville returns five All-America wrestlers to its roster and is ranked No. 9 in the NAIA preseason poll.
Four the Tigers' five returning All-Americans currently rank in the Top 12 of their individual weight classes, paced by Tommy Pretty, as the No. 3 ranked grappler at 133 pounds.
Following Pretty in the preseason NAIA rankings are Jacob Murton, a sophomore who is ranked No. 9 in the 141-pound division, while senior James Linker is No. 5 at 165 pounds. The fourth returning All-American is Spencer Adams, a sophomore who is wrestling at 184 pounds.
Two other wrestlers for Campbellsville also had their names listed among the Top 12 in the NAIA preseason ranks. Phillip Oudhuis is ranked No. 11 at 174 pounds and David Coffey is the No. 8 ranked heavyweight in the country.
Campbellsville posted a 10-8 dual meet record during the 2008-09 season, ending the year ranked No. 7 in the final NAIA poll.
This will be the third time in the last four years Liberty has squared off against the Tigers. Liberty has won both previous matchups, upending the Tigers, 27-16, on Nov. 22, 2006, in a quad match on Liberty Mountain, while picking up a 26-9 victory over Campbellsville to open the Campbellsville Duals on Dec. 8, 2007.
The dual with the Tigers will be the first of five home events for Liberty, but the lone event before the New Year.
The Flames will not return to Liberty Mountain until they square off against Bucknell on Jan. 23, 2010, in a dual which is slated to be broadcast on the Flames Sports Network.
Probable Starters (LU vs. CU)
125 – Joe Pantaleo vs. Johnny Papesh
133 – Sean Katz vs. Tommy Pretty
141 – Scott Clymer vs. Matt David
149 – Frankie Gayeski vs. Aaron Smith/Seth Lucas
157 – Shaun Smith vs. Conor Young/Dez Jakes
165 – Chad Porter vs. James Linker
174 – Nick Knowles vs. Philllip Oudhuis
184 – Dave Zeigler vs. Spencer Adams
197 – Jacoby Johnson/Brandon Lawrence vs. Diante Wrigth
285 – Josh Pelletier vs. David Coffey