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Gayeski Takes Fourth at Southern Scuffle
No. 8 Cornell took home the team title, as the Big Red scored 164.0 team points, thanks to three individual champions. No. 5 Minnesota finished second in the event with 151.5 team points, while No. 13 Indiana rounded out the top three with 131.5 team points.
Liberty was able to secure a 16th-place finish with 39.0 team points, placing just behind No. 23 Old Dominion in the team rankings, as the Monarchs netted 53.0 team points during the two-day event, which featured seven Top 25 programs and 53 nationally ranked grapplers.
Liberty entered the day with four of its 20 registered grapplers still active in the draw. Gayeski won three matches on Tuesday to advance the quarterfinals of the 149-pound championship bracket. In the wrestleback side of the tournament, Joe Pantaleo (133 pounds), Shaun Smith (157 pounds) and Josh Pelletier (heavyweight) remained alive, with each taking home three wins and a loss during Tuesday's action.
Pantaleo was the first to take to Mat 1 for the Flames Wednesday morning, where the 133-pounder suffered a 4-1 setback to Navy's Ben Levin.
Midway through the first period, Belin took Pantaleo down with a sweeping move to the left and remained in control the rest of the period. Levin chose down to begin the second and Pantaleo controlled the pace of action during the entire two minutes, erasing Levin's riding time advantage. However, Pantaleo could do no more than keep Belin to the mat during the period, leaving the score 2-0 in favor of Navy's grappler.
From the neutral position to begin the third, neither wrestler gained much of an advantage during the opening minute, until Levin moved in on Pantaleo and got his right arm around Pantaleo's head, which led to the second takedown of the match with 45 seconds left. Pantaleo was able to get away from Levin 20 seconds before the final whistle blew, but that would be all Liberty's 133-pounder could do before bowing out of the event.
Following Pantaleo's bout, Smith also tried to stave off elimination at Mat 1, but the senior could not, as he suffered a tough 5-3 loss to Michigan's David Johnson. Smith was able to overcome an early 3-0 deficit to force overtime, but the senior suffered a quick takedown just 12 seconds into the extended period to bow out of the event.
With roughly 50 seconds left in the first period, Smith tried to put a move on Johnson and looked to have him down, but the Wolverine reversed the position and was able to score the match's first two points with a takedown.
Johnson chose down to being the second and quickly escaped for his third point of the 157-pound match. However, Smith got a hold of Johnson's right leg with a quick move and took the Michigan grappler down for his first two points of the match. Smith started down in the third and was able to escape the grasp of Johnson to knot the match at 3-3 with 90 seconds left in regulation. Both grapplers scrapped during the waning seconds of the period, but neither could do enough to merit any further points.
Beginning from the neutral position to open the overtime period, Johnson swiftly moved in on Smith for the match's deciding move to end Smith's stay at this year's Southern Scuffle with the 5-3, sudden victory decision.
Wrestleback action remained on Mat 1 for the Flames and this time around the decision quickly ended in favor of the Flames, resulting in Pelletier advancing in the heavyweight wrestleback bracket.
Kent State's Joe Tymoszuzuk tried to jab in three or four times with his right arm to gain position on Pelletier early in the first, but the fourth time left Tymoszuzk's left leg open, which Pelletier swooped in on for the takedown 40 seconds in the match.
And 18 seconds later, Pelletier was able to turn Tymoszuzuk completely to the mat and pin the Kent State 285-pounder for the victory at 58 seconds. For Pelletier, it was the junior's ninth victory in his last 10 bouts and his second by fall this season.
In his next bout, Pelletier ran into a familiar foe, as the junior was pitted against Kent State's Brendan Barlow for the second time this year. At the Brockport/Oklahoma Gold Tournament, Pelletier bowed out of the event after a 6-3 setback to Barlow.
This time around, Pelletier was able to keep things closer, but he still lost, 2-1, to the nation's No. 19-ranked grappler in a match decided by riding time.
Neither grappler could gain much of an advantage in the first period, sending the bout to the second in a scoreless 0-0 tie. After feeling each other out for the first two and half minutes, Barlow tried to make two or three late moves in the first, but Pelletier fended off the charges.
Barlow started down to begin the second and easily escaped for a point in just eight seconds, and the quick move eventually led to the deciding factor in the match. Pelletier started down in the third and was able to get away from Barlow just before the two grapplers slipped outside the circle midway through third period. But Liberty's junior slipped away after Barlow had amassed 1:03 of riding time, which eventually gave the Kent State grappler the match and ended Pelletier's run at this year's Southern Scuffle.
Gayeski was able to advance to the semifinal round without setting foot on a wrestling mat, as Virginia Tech's Peter Yates had to bow out of the event due to a medical injury.
With a 14-match winning streak and a ticket to the championship bout at 149 pounds on the line, another low-scoring match did not go the way the Flames would have wanted it to, as Gayeski dropped his bout to Penn's Cesar Grajales, 2-1, sending Gayeski into the wrestleback bracket.
Neither grappler could gain much of an advantage during the first three minutes of action, leaving the matchup tied at 0-0 after one period. Starting down in the second, Gayeski got to his feet to try and net an escape point, but before he could get away from Grajales, the Penn wrestler was able to sling Gayeski back to the mat. With two seconds left in the period, Gayeski was finally able to escape from Grajales, but the move hurt Liberty's senior, resulting in a stoppage for injury time.
After starting down to begin the third, Grajales was able to slip away from Gayeski 26 seconds in the third round, tying the match at 1-1. But Grajales was holding a 1:34 riding time advantage, meaning Liberty's senior was going to have to make a move to win the match. Roughly one minute later, Gayeski was able to get Grajales on his head and nearly gain his needed two points for the takedown. However, the official stopped the bout because he deemed the move was potentially harmful to Grajales. Penn's grappler was able to stay away from Gayeski to gain the 2-1 victory, thanks to the riding time advantage.
About an hour later, Gayeski was able to rebound and advance to the third-place bout with a 9-6 decision victory over N.C. State's Bobby Ward in a match that was dominated by reversals.
Ward scored first with a quick takedown, but Gayeski slipped away and reversed the position to knot the match at 2-2. After a quick escape by Ward, Gayeski was able to make a move and take Ward down to the mats to claim a 4-3 lead after three minutes of action.
Ward started the second down and reversed control, scoring two points by moving on top of Gayeski. However, Liberty's senior scrapped back just seconds later with his second reversal, which allowed him to dominate the remainder of the second period.
Holding a 6-5 lead going into the final period, Gayeski scored his third reversal just 25 seconds into the round out of the down position. Gayeski controlled the pace the rest of the way until Ward slipped away with two ticks left on the clock, but Gayeski was able to add his 2:24 of riding time to secure the 9-6 decision win and advance to the third-place bout at 149 pounds.
However, Liberty's leading grappler during the 2009-10 season, with 18 wins, was unable to return to the mats, due to injuries suffered during his bouts with Penn's Grajales and N.C. State's Ward, forcing the senior to forfeit his attempt at third place.
With tournament action behind them for the season, the Flames will return to dual matches next weekend, when Liberty travels across the Commonwealth to partake in the Virginia Duals.
The event, which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary, is slated to include a star-studded field, much like the Southern Scuffle featured.
Action is slated to begin on Jan. 8, where the Flames will square off against two undetermined teams. Should the Flames pick up a dual victory on day one, Liberty would advance to the second day's action on Jan. 9, with all of the matches taking place inside the Hampton Coliseum.