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LU Takes Opening Dual against Ranked Tigers

November 7, 2009
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Shaun Smith closed out Liberty's 25-9 dual victory Campbellsville with a hard-fought 2-0 decision.

Shaun Smith closed out Liberty's 25-9 dual victory Campbellsville with a hard-fought 2-0 decision.

For the second-straight season, the Flames opened the year with a home dual and for the second year in a row, Liberty was victorious, as the homestanding Flames knocked off NAIA-ranked Campbellsville, 25-9, before a raucous crowd at the Schilling Center.

With the victory, the Flames begin the year with a 1-0 record. Liberty has now won four-straight home dual events and has posted a 13-2-1 record on Liberty Mountain since the program was reinstalled for the 2006-07 season.

Campbellsville, who is ranked No. 9 in the first-issued NAIA national poll, drops to 0-1 on the year and remains winless against Liberty in three tries over the last four years.

The bout opened with a pair of nationally ranked grapplers, as Liberty's Chad Porter is listed at No. 16 in the preseason Division I listings at 165 pounds, while James Linker is ranked No. 5 at the NAIA level.

The match remained close, as Linker was awarded a penalty point early in the third because Porter was stalling. But the Liberty junior captain scored a two-point reversal shortly thereafter and added 1:53 minutes of riding time to open the dual with a 7-3 decision.

Nick Knowles looked like he was on his way to a high-scoring victory at 174 pounds. The junior scored six first-period points, thanks in part to a takedown and three near-fall points. However, Campbellville's Bryan Wells came storming back with four points in the second, after an escape and a takedown.

Knowles choose bottom position to begin the final period and slipped away from Wells' grasp within the first 10 seconds of the last two minutes, securing the 7-4 decision.

Down 6-0 after two decision losses, the Tigers sent to additional ranked NAIA grapplers out onto the mats at 184 and 197 pounds, and the pair was able to knot the overall dual score with two decisions.

Phillip Oudhuis, who is ranked No. 11 at 174 pounds, and Spencer Adams, who is ranked No. 4 at 184 pounds, both wrestled up a weight class and it proved to be a good decision for the Tigers.

Oudhuis opened with a quick two-point takedown of Liberty's Joseph Son, while adding a second-period escape. Son got on the scoreboard with an escape of his own in the opening seconds of the third period, but that would prove to be the bouts' final points, giving Campbellsville its first victory of the afternoon, a 3-1 decision.

The low-scoring theme continued at 197 pounds, as the match-up between Adams and Jacoby Johnson remained scoreless until 35 seconds left on the clock in the second period, when Johnson was awarded a point because Adams was stalling.

Adams began the final two minutes down and got away from Johnson 20 seconds in, knotting the bout at 1-1. Neither grappler was able to gain much of an advantage over the next 100 seconds, allowing Adams to use his 1:43 riding time edge to give Campbellsville the 2-1 decision win.

The heavyweight matchup between Liberty's Josh Pelletier and Diante Wright looked like it might keep up the lower-scoring run, as Pelletier led 3-0 after five minutes.

However, Liberty's junior big man was able to turn it on during the final period, carding a takedown and a reversal to go along with 3:06 of riding time to secure a 10-2 major decision win for the Flames.

Pelletier's win at heavyweight gave the Flames the lead for good, but Jonathan Childress' results at 125 pounds set the tone for the remainder of the dual.

The highly touted freshman from Red Lion, Pa., did not give the hometown crowd much of a look at his abilities, as the rookie pinned Decorues Leavell 32 seconds in the matchup.

The Tigers refused to do down without a fight, as Tommy Pretty pulled the visitors back within seven points, 16-9, thanks to a six-point decision at 133 pounds.

Pretty, one of five returning NAIA All-Americans and the Tigers' top-ranked grappler at No. 3, led 4-3 after three minutes of action against Sean Katz, thanks to an opening takedown and late reversal.

Katz's two-point takedown late in the first period proved to be the last time he would add points to the scoreboard. Pretty added six more points thanks to a second-period reversal, a final-period takedown and a 2:48 riding time advantage to claim the 9-3 decision.

However, the victory by Pretty was the final one for the visitors on the afternoon, as Liberty closed out the dual with three-consecutive decisions.

Collin Lewis opened the run with a 5-2 decision over Matt David at 141 pounds. Lewis carded a two-point takedown in the first period and added a reversal 19 seconds into the second to open up a sizeable 4-0 lead after five minutes of action.

David tried to stay in the matchup with a late third-period reversal, but could do no more, as Lewis added a dominating 4:43 minutes of riding time to capture the three-point decision.

Head coach Jesse Castro closed out his lineup by sending two of his three team captains out onto the mat and Frankie Gayeski and Shaun Smith were able to come through.

At 149 pounds, the matchup between Gayeski and Seth Lucas remained close, as the Liberty senior led 2-1 after five minutes had ticked off the timing tree.

However, an action-packed final period thrilled the hometown crowd, as Gayeski got away from Lucas within the first 30 seconds of the period.

The senior then added two takedowns over the waning 90 seconds to go along with 2:16 of riding time advantage to secure the 8-2 decision victory.

Smith, one of two national qualifiers in the Flames lineup on the day, had to scrap with Nick Waldrop the entire seven minutes to claim his decision win.

Neither grappler was able to get on the board until Smith escaped from the down position in the second period to secure a pivotal point.

The point ended up being the final one issued during the bout, until Smith added a second thanks to a 1:10 riding time edge to escape with a 2-0 decision, giving the senior his 45th career victory in a Liberty singlet.

The Flames will return to the mats next weekend, when they travel to Brockport, N.Y., to participate in the Brockport/Oklahoma Gold Tournament.

This will be the second time in three years the Flames have made the trek to Brockport, as the Flames placed seventh out of nine teams during their first showing in 2007.

This year's field includes 20 nationally ranked wrestlers and four Top 50 programs. Spotlighting the seven-team field is Ohio State, who was last year's national runner-up and ranked No. 3 in the country, and Edinboro, who is ranked No. 12 in the nation.