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Coach's Corner with Jesse Castro
Following a successful run at the Southern Scuffle last week, LibertyFlames.com reporter Nick Pierce had a chance to sit down with wrestling head coach Jesse Castro earlier today for another Coach's Corner segment.
During the interview, Castro reviewed the team's performance at the Southern Scuffle and gave listeners a sneak peek into this weekend's Virginia Duals.
At last week's Southern Scuffle, Liberty placed 16th out of 31 teams, which turned out to be the same spot the Flames finished last year. However, this year's Southern Scuffle field was much stronger, featuring seven Top 25 programs and 53 wrestlers who were ranked in the Top 20 in their respective weight classes.
Individually, Frankie Gayeski spotlighted four grapplers who advanced to the second day of competition, doing so in the championship bracket. The redshirt senior, who currently ranks No. 22 in the country at 149 pounds according to D1CollegeWrestling.net, extended his personal 15-match winning streak to the semifinals, before losing a tough 2-1 decision, and eventually taking fourth in the event.
Joining Gayeski on the second day of action were three grapplers scrapping their way back through the wrestleback bracket in Joe Pantaleo (133 pounds), Shaun Smith (157 pounds) and Josh Pelletier (285 pounds). Pelletier was the lone member of the trio to post a victory on the second day, before the junior suffered his fourth loss of the season to a nationally ranked wrestler.
The Flames will continue to face some of the nation's best wrestling programs this weekend, when Liberty makes the trek across the Commonwealth to participate in the Virginia Duals for the third time in four years.
Celebrating its 30th year of competition, the Virginia Duals has drawn its strongest field during the past three decades of competition. Nine of the 16 teams in the National College Tournament bracket are currently ranked in the Top 25.
Liberty will have one of the toughest first round match-up at the Duals, as the Flames drew its top-ranked team in the event, Oklahoma State. The Cowboys, currently ranked No. 4 in the country, have nine of their 10 starters currently ranked individually in the Top 20 in their respective weight classes, including senior heavyweight Jared Rosholt, who finished third at last year's nationals and currently ranks No. 2 at 285 pounds.
Should the Flames post an upset over Oklahoma State, Liberty would advance to face the victor in the No. 23 Old Dominion vs. Clarion matchup, while the two losers would face each other to begin the consolation bracket on Friday.