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Gayeski Leads Quartet at Southern Scuffle

December 29, 2009
|  Greensboro, N.C.
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Frankie Gayeski won all three of his matches on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals of the championship bracket at the Southern Scuffle.

Frankie Gayeski won all three of his matches on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals of the championship bracket at the Southern Scuffle.

Frankie Gayeski continued his recent winning ways during the first day of the Southern Scuffle, Tuesday inside the Special Events Center at the Greensboro Coliseum. The grappler's success spotlighted the day, as four Liberty wrestlers remain active in the two-day event.

Gayeski won all three of his bouts on the day, earning his way into the quarterfinals of the championship bracket, where he will face Virginia Tech's Peter Yates, tomorrow morning. The winner advances to the 149-pound semifinals.

Gayeski will be joined in action on Wednesday by three other Flames, who successfully staved off elimination earlier today in the wrestleback bracket. Joe Pantaleo is still alive at 133 pounds, Shaun Smith is still active at 157 pounds and heavyweight Josh Pelletier still remain in the active after a successful first day run.

As a team, Liberty stands in a tie with North Carolina for 16th place in the 31-team field, as both programs amassed 24 points on Tuesday.

No. 5 Minnesota had a strong close to the first day's action to push the Gophers into first place with 50 points, thanks to six wrestlers remaining in the championship draw. However, No. 8 Cornell is just one point behind Minnesota in second place, with nine grapplers remaining in the championship bracket.

The 31-team field includes seven Top 25 programs and 53 grapplers who are nationally ranked coming into the week. Rounding out the team standings are No. 13 Indiana, in third place with 42 points, No. 20 Edinboro, in fourth place with 41.5 points, and No. 23 Virginia, in fifth place with 41 points.

Gayeski left no doubt during his three bouts, winning each of the trio by major decision to push his personal winning streak to 14-straight matches.

The senior captain opened with a 10-1 win over hometown favorite Alejando Soto of UNC Greensboro, followed by a 17-4 major decision over The Citadel's Kirby Thompson.

Gayeski closed out his action late in the day, with a 14-3 major decision over Virginia's Kellon Balum to advance to tomorrow's quarterfinal bout. The senior used a pair of two-point takedowns, each coming with three near-fall points, to best the Cavalier grappler and remain in the top draw at the event.

Smith and Pelletier each joined Gayeski in the Championship Round of 16, but did not find enough success to advance in the championship bracket.

Smith opened the day with a 5-2 decision victory over Ryan Konz of Indiana, followed by a 9-2 decision victory over N.C. State's Colton Palmer to advance to the Round of 16 at 157 pounds.

However, the senior was unable to overcome a takedown each of the second and third periods and Thomas Scotton's riding time advantage, falling into the wrestleback bracket after a 5-0 loss to the Tar Heel wrestler.

During the final session of the event, Smith managed to capture a 4-1 decision victory over UNC Greensboro's Ty Knepp to remain alive in the consolation draw, where he will open with Michigan's David Johnson tomorrow morning.

Pelletier used two strong defensive performances to secure his place in the Championship Round of 16 at heavyweight.

The junior opened with back-to-back shutouts, beginning with a 2-0 decision over UNC Greensboro's Michael Gregory, where he used a third-period escape and riding time advantage to secure the victory.

After besting Appalachian State's Kenneth Altarac in a 3-0 decision, Pelletier saw Cornell's Joshua Arnone use the same method he used to beat Gregory to drop Liberty's junior in the consolation round. Arnone controlled the entire second period to build up a significant riding time edge, then quickly scored an early third-period escape to net the 2-0 decision win.

However, in one of the final bouts of the first day, Pelletier pushed his way into action on the second day with a 4-1 decision victory over Bloomsburg's Zachary Walsh.

Tomorrow morning, Pelletier will square off against Kent State's Joe Tymoszuzuk for the right to remain active in the wrestleback heavyweight bracket.

The final Flame to push his way into the second day of action was Pantaleo, who did so with three-straight consolation round wins at 133 pounds.

After dropping an opening bout 8-5 decision to Edinboro's Ashton Osterberg, Pantaleo began his march toward the second day's action with narrow 1-0 decision over Indiana's Matt Ortega.

Pantaleo followed with an 8-1 decision over N.C. State's Scott Norris and a high-scoring 17-9 major decision win over Ohio's Michael Fennell. Tomorrow morning, Pantaleo will look to remain alive in the wrestleback bracket, when he takes to the mats with Navy's Ben Levin.

Six other Flames posted multiple victories on the day, before bowing out of this year's Southern Scuffle. Spotlighting the group is Chad Porter, who dropped a tough 5-3 opening round decision at 165 pounds, before picking up two wins in the wreslteback bracket. The pair of wins gave the junior 80 career victories in a Liberty singlet.

Joining Porter with multiple wins on the day were Scott Clymer (141 pounds), Seth Hicks (141 pounds), Joseph Bayer (157 pounds) and Julian Colon (165 pounds).

Of the remaining 10 Liberty wrestlers who saw action on day one of the Southern Scuffle, Justin Braham had the most notable matchup.

After the freshman won his opening bout at 125 pounds with a 7-5 decision over Princeton's Andrew Hirai, the rookie quickly got a taste of top collegiate wrestling, losing by fall (1:46) to defending national champion Troy Nickerson of Cornell.

Liberty's four remaining grapplers will look to help the Flames continue to advance in the seventh-annual Southern Scuffle, with the hopes of besting last year's 16th place with 32 team points (out of 31 teams).

As the web site did during Tuesday's action, LibertyFlames.com will once again be blogging live from mat side inside the Special Events Center at the Greensboro Coliseum. The blog is slated to go live as action opens at 9 a.m., and will continue to cover the Flames as long as Liberty has active wrestlers in the draw.