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Flames Look to Defend Eastern Regional Title

February 5, 2010
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Shaun Smith and the Flames will look to make it three in a row at the Eastern Regional Duals this weekend in Buies Creek, N.C.

Shaun Smith and the Flames will look to make it three in a row at the Eastern Regional Duals this weekend in Buies Creek, N.C.

Link to Fighting Camel Video Package

Liberty's wrestling team will head to Buies Creek, N.C., this weekend for a key event on its 2009-10 slate, as the squad will participate in the 2010 Eastern Regional Duals on Saturday inside the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center.

Liberty comes into the event as the two-time defending Eastern Regional Duals champion. Last year, the Flames posted a 5-1 record at the Duals, finishing tied atop the team standings with Campbell, who will serve as this year's host.

However, the Flames claimed their second title in a row by virtue of their 27-12 dual victory over the Camels. Liberty had several grappler shine at the event, including senior 141-pounder Tim Harner, who was named last year's Most Outstanding Wrestler after a 3-0 showing.

Liberty captured its first Eastern Regional Duals title in 2008, when the Flames went unbeaten at the annual event hosted by Millersville inside Pucillo Gymnasium, the site of the upcoming 2010 NCAA East Regional championships on March 6.

Liberty posted an unblemished 4-0 record in 2008, finishing ahead of second-place Millersville (2-1-1) and Duquesne (2-1-1). Junior Chad Porter led the charge for the Flames in 2008, posting a 3-0 mark at 165 pounds.

The Flames have posted a combined 11-2 record at the Eastern Regional Duals since Liberty started competing in the event in 2007. The only two programs to record victories over Liberty at the annual dual tournament are Duquesne, who downed the Flames in 2007 (25-23), and Millersville at last year's Regional Duals (25-21).

Of the grapplers in head coach Jesse Castro's probable starting lineup for this year's Regional Duals, four Liberty wrestlers enter Saturday with perfect records in the event.

Chad Porter leads the quartet, as the junior has recorded a 7-0 mark at the Regional Duals. The 165-pounder, who enters this year's event with 83 career victories, posted a 4-0 record in 2007 and was 3-0 in 2008.

Last year, Porter did not compete in the event, as he was sitting out the season and redshirted. Three of his seven Eastern Regional Dual wins have been by fall, while another was by technical fall and major decision.

Joining Porter on the list of Liberty grapplers with perfect career marks at the Eastern Regional Duals are Brad Clark, Nick Knowles and Shaun Smith, with each having posted an unblemished 4-0 record in previous showings.

Porter is one of the team's leaders this year, as he comes into the weekend event having won three of his last four bouts to raise his season record to 17-9, including a 10-4 showing in dual events.

Liberty's leader on the mat this season is Frankie Gayeski at 149 pounds. The redshirt senior returned to the Flames' lineup on Tuesday night, where he upped his record to 20-6 on the year and 10-2 in dual events with a third-period pin.

Gayeski had been sideline for more than three weeks, dealing with a back injury. This will be the transfer from Lehigh's second showing at the Eastern Regional Duals. He posted a 1-1 record at last year's event.

Smith, who shares captain's duties with Porter and Gayeski, remains Liberty's most consistent wrestler of late, having walked away the victor in his last five bouts at 157 pounds. Four of those five wins have been by decision, upping his season record to 13-7 overall and 7-2 in dual action. He ranks second on the team behind Porter with 57 career wins.

Liberty comes into the one-day event with nearly as many dual victories this season than the rest of the five-team field combined. The Flames are 7-8 in dual action this year, while Gardner-Webb (3-10-1) and Millersville (3-11-1) have three dual wins this season. Duquesne, who is in its final season of competition, is 2-5 on the year, while host Campbell is winless in eight dual events (0-8).

Two-match action is slated to kickoff inside the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center at 9 a.m. During the opening session, Liberty will square off against Duquesne, while Gardner-Webb will face Millersville. Liberty will continue action at 11 a.m. against Millersville, followed by duals with Gardner-Webb at 1 p.m. and host Campbell at 3 p.m.

Fans unable to make the trek down to Buies Creek, N.C., can follow the action live on the Fighting Camel Zone video streaming package. The subscription-based service will be charging a one-day fee to watch the event and more information can be found by clicking here or the link at the top of the page.

2010 Eastern Regional Duals
Schedule of Events:
Mat 1
9 a.m. – Gardner-Webb vs. Millersville
11 a.m. – Campbell vs. Duquesne
1 p.m. – Campbell vs. Millersville
3 p.m. – Campbell vs. Liberty

Mat 2
9 a.m. – Duquesne vs. Liberty
11 a.m. – Liberty vs. Millersville
1 p.m. – Gardner-Webb vs. Liberty
3 p.m. – Duquesne vs. Gardner-Webb

Liberty's Probable Starters:
125 – Jonathan Childress (10-9) or Justin Branham (3-9)
133 – Joe Pantaleo (9-11) or T. J. Mitchell (0-0)
141 – Scott Clymer (15-9) or Collin Lewis (6-11)
149 – Frankie Gayeski (20-6) or Peter Crawford (1-4)
157 – Shaun Smith (13-7) or Joseph Bayer (2-2)
165 – Chad Porter (17-9) or Justin Krop (0-0)
174 – Brad Clark (14-10)
184 – Nick Knowles (11-13)
197 – Jacobi Johnson (8-16) or Brandon Lawrence (1-6)
285 – Josh Pelletier (11-5) or Andrew Wilson (10-10)