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Wrestling Set to Host UNC Greensboro Tonight
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After having a weekend winter storm alter its 2009-10 schedule, Liberty's wrestling squad is set to return to the mats tonight when they host Southern Conference foe UNC Greensboro inside the Vines Center.
Liberty enters tonight's matchup with a 7-7 record after snapping a five-match losing skid with its convincing victory over VMI, last Wednesday, in Lexington, Va.
The Flames won eight of 10 weight classes, including five-straight major decision wins to close out the 29-7 victory over the Keydets. The victory served as Liberty's fourth in a row against VMI, who also competes alongside UNC Greensboro in the Southern Conference.
Liberty has not had as much success against the Spartans, as UNC Greensboro holds a 2-1 edge in the series over the last three seasons, with each team holding its own at home.
Last year, the Flames jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead after Aaron Kelley scored a major decision at 174 pounds, but the Spartans took seven of the remaining nine bouts to secure a 25-13 win at Fleming Gymnasium.
The last time UNC Greensboro made the trek to the Hill City, the Flames were able to claim the victory, as Liberty won the match, 21-15, inside the Vines Center on Feb. 5, 2008. The Spartans held a 9-6 lead midway through the dual, until the Flames strung together four weight class wins in a row to secure the home victory.
The Spartans come into the night fresh off a 40-9 victory over Davidson, last week, which pushed UNC Greensboro to within a half game of Southern Conference leader with a 3-1 league mark. The win snapped a two-game skid for UNC Greensboro and raised its dual match record to 4-6.
Liberty and UNC Greensboro have not competed head-to-head since Feb. 9, 2009, but the two squads have competed side-by-side this season, when Liberty particiapted in the Southern Scuffle at the end of December.
The Flames found much success at the UNC Greensboro hosted event, as Liberty had four grapplers advance to the second day and placed 16th out of 31 programs.
Frankie Gayeski led Liberty's charge during the two-day event, as the senior advanced to the semifinals of the 149-pound bracket before eventually finishing in fourth place. As a team, Liberty finished ahead of UNC Greensboro, as the Spartans finished in 22nd place.
The Spartans have five grapplers in their starting lineup with 20 or more victories, including 27-match winners Ivan Lopouchanski and Peter Sturgeon.
Lopouchanksi, the Spartan's starter at 141 pounds, opened the year with nine-straight victories and has won five of his last seven bouts. In his first full season with UNC Greensboro, the redshirt freshman has already captured a pair of tournament titles, placing first at the Hokie Open and the N.C. State Wolfpack Open.
Like Lopouchanski, Sturgeon also found success in tournament competition this year, placing in three events, including an individual victory at heavyweight at the N.C. State Wolfpack Open.
However, the sophomore has not found as much success in dual action, as he is 5-4 in his last nine events, including a first-period pin (2:01) against Davidson's Charlie Wolff in his last trip out onto the mats.
The Spartans other three 20-win grapplers are Eric Chandler at 125 pounds (20-14), Byron Sigmon at 174 pounds (21-11) and Andrew Saunders at 184 pounds (23-11).
Liberty could have its first 20-win victor should Gayeski (19-6) have a successful return to the Flames starting lineup. The senior has not circled the mats for Liberty since the Virginia Duals on Jan. 8, as the 149-pounder has been sideline with an injury.
Leading the charge for the Flames in Gayeski's absence was his fellow team captains Shaun Smith and Chad Porter.
Smith comes into tonight's matchup as Liberty's most consistent wrestler, having reeled off four-straight wins to raise his mark to 12-7 on the season. A stalwart in head coach Jesse Castro's starting lineup, Smith comes into the evening with a 6-2 record in dual matches this season and 30-24 during his career.
Porter is tied for the team lead in dual victories with Gayeski, as the junior has posted a 9-4 record in dual matches this year. Overall, he ranks second on the team with a 16-9 record after winning two of his last three matches, including a dominating 10-1 major decision over Conor Black of VMI last Wednesday night at 165 pounds.
The match is one of four home dual events which will be televised on the Flames Sports Network and video stream around the world via the Big South Network.
Tonight's Probable Starters
125 – Jonathan Childress (10-8)
133 – Joe Pantaleo (9-10)
141 – Scott Clymer (14-9)
149 – Frankie Gayeski (19-6)
157 – Shaun Smith (12-7)
165 – Chad Porter (16-9)
174 – Brad Clark (13-10)
184 – Nick Knowles (11-12)
197 – Jacobi Johnson (8-15)
285 – Josh Pelletier (11-5) or Andrew Wilson (10-9)
UNC Greensboro (4-6)
125 – Eric Chandler (20-14)
133 – Casey Boyle (6-12)
141 – Ivan Lopouchanski (27-7)
149 – Alejandro Soto-Perez (3-16)
157 – Travis Sheehy (15-5)
165 – Victor Hojilla (13-16)
174 – Byron Sigmon (21-11)
184 – Andrew Saunders (23-11)
197 – Ryan Sughrue (17-9)
285 – Peter Sturgeon (27-12)