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Flames Return to Tournament Action in Reno
Liberty will be looking to return to the level of success that it found during its first two trips to one of the larger West Coast wrestling events of the year, after finishing 28th out of 30 teams last year with 7.5 point scored.
During part of their first season back on the mats, Liberty netted 39 points en route to a 13th-place showing out of 29 programs, thanks a fifth-place finish by Tim Harner at 141 pounds in 2006
The Flames matched that showing during the 2007 Reno event, as Liberty finished with 16.5 points to place 13th out of 26 programs.
This year's field will be one of the strongest since the Flames have been making the trek out west for the annual event. The 26-team field includes six Top 25 programs, as this year's team listing includes No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Boise State, No. 15 Penn State, No. 17 Edinboro, No. 21 Arizona State and No. 23 Cal Poly.
Liberty has already seen one of the aforementioned Top 25 programs. Liberty rounded the mats with No. 17 Edinboro at the Brockport/Oklahoma Gold Tournament in early November, where Edinboro placed fourth to Liberty's seventh-place tournament finish.
The field is covered with numerous Top 25 ranked individual wrestlers, as eight of the 10 weight classes have at least one Top 5 ranked grappler listed on the bracket.
Spotlighting the plethora of elite wrestlers is Edinboro's Jarrod King, the defending national champion and nation's top ranked wrestler at 165 pounds. Oklahoma State's Jared Rosholt is also among the premier grapplers in the field, who finished third at last year's national championship and currently ranks No. 2 at heavyweight.
Rounding out the elite field are four grapplers currently ranked No. 3 in the country, as Arizona State's Anthony Robles (125 pounds), Boise State's Andrew Hochstrasser (133 pounds), Oklahoma State's Jamal Parks (141 pounds) and Penn State's Cyler Sanderson (157 pounds) will be the featured grapplers in the lower weight classes.
Fourth-year head coach Jesse Castro is going to be looking for some upperclassmen leadership during Liberty's run at this year's Reno Tournament of Champions.
Frankie Gayeski comes into the event as Liberty's hottest wrestlers, having reeled off 11-straight victories at 149 pounds. The senior is 13-2 overall this season and will be looking to improve on last year's showing with two losses to Western Wyoming wrestlers at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Chad Porter has won six of his last seven bouts at 165 pounds and currently ranks just behind Gayeski with a 12-4 mark on the year. The junior will be looking to return to the level of success he experienced his first go around in Reno, as he posted a 4-2 record as a freshman at the Tournament of Champions in 2006.
Brad Clark and Scott Clymer will also look to help the Flames in their run at this year's Reno Tournament of Champions.
Clark, a redshirt sophomore at 174 pounds, has been victorious in 10 of his last 11 bouts and is tied for second with Porter with 12-4 record in 2009.
Clymer was Liberty's much successful wrestler early in the season, as he placed in both the Brockport/Oklahoma Gold Tournament (fourth) and Keystone Classic (third), but the 141-pound grapplers has dropped four of his last five matches and stands at 10-7 on the season.
2009 Reno Tournament of Champions Team Field:
No. 21 Arizona State
No. 7 Boise State
No. 23 Cal Poly
Cal State Bakerfield
Cal State Fullerton
California - Davis
Clakamas Community College
No. 17 Edinboro
Montana State Northern
No. 3 Oklahoma State
No. 15 Penn State
Southwestern Oregon Community College