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Liberty to Wrap Up Regular Season on Tuesday

February 22, 2010
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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The Flames will be looking to give head coach Jesse Castro his 50th career dual victory on Tuesday night when they face Appalachian State.

The Flames will be looking to give head coach Jesse Castro his 50th career dual victory on Tuesday night when they face Appalachian State.

The Flames will wrap up their 2009-10 regular season slate on Tuesday night, when they travel to Boone, N.C., to square off against Appalachian State inside Varsity Gym. Opening whistle for the dual event is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Liberty will be looking to foil its second-straight Senior Night festivities, as the Flames upped their season mark to 10-9 with a 30-10 victory over George Mason, last Thursday, in the Patriots final home event of the year.

In the dual, the Flames won eight of 10 weight class matchups, with six decision victories, a forfeit victory at 133 pounds and Frankie Gayeski's 23rd win of the year.

The win, Liberty's second in a row over George Mason in Fairfax, Va., pushed head coach Jesse Castro one victory closer to his 50th career dual win. The four-year skipper has racked up a 49-38-2 mark since taking over the program, which currently ranks third in program history in terms of total coaching wins.

The Flames have circled the mats with the Mountaineers for the past two seasons, with the home team walking away as the victor in each previous matchup.

Last year, Appalachian State jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead inside the Vines Center on Feb. 23, but the Flames stormed back to win six of the last eight bouts to secure the 24-18 victory in Liberty's regular-season finale.

Two years ago, the Flames made the trek down to Boone and could only string together three decision wins, falling at the hands of Appalachian State, 30-9, on Feb. 13 inside Varsity Gym. The setback was Liberty's final dual loss of the 2007-08 season.

This season, the two squads have faced similar schedules, having squared off against four common opponents and participated in the same tournament twice.

In tournament action, Liberty spotlighted its non-dual season by taking the team title at the Keystone Classic, hosted by Penn on Nov. 22. Appalachian State finished third at the event, which featured a total of nine teams in the field.

Nearly six weeks later, the Flames schedule once again converged with Appalachian State at the Southern Scuffle. Liberty had four grapplers advance to the second day, including Gayeski who advanced to the semifinals at 149 pounds, helping Liberty finish 16th out of 31 teams. The Mountaineers did not find as much success, posting a 24th-place finish.

Liberty and Appalachian State have each posted a combined 1-3 record against the same four dual opponents. Liberty lost to Binghamton (15-25), Chattanooga (14-25) and UNC Greensboro (15-23), while defeating VMI (29-7).

Appalachian State also lost to the trio of Binghamton (16-28), Chattanooga (9-30) and UNC Greensboro (13-28), before upping its record to 9-10 on the season with a 22-15 victory over VMI on Feb. 14 in their last dual.

VMI led the dual until the final two bouts, when Austin Trotman (184 pounds) and Dylan Temple (197 pounds) helped close out a four-match winning run for the Mountaineers.

In Liberty's matchup with the Keydets, the Flames fell behind early after the Keydets Josh Wine picked up his 15th win in a row at heavyweight, before Liberty strung together victories in eight of the nine remaining bouts to secure the 22-point road victory.

Appalachian State has three 20-match victors on its roster and a fourth ready to join the elite group (Dylan Temple at 197 pounds). Leading the group is Kyle Blevins, a sophomore with 21 wins, including 11 victories in his last 12 bouts. The lone setback for the 165-pounder during the run of dozen matches was a 4-3 loss to No. 19 Brandon Wright of Chattanooga.

Falling one victory behind Blevins is Savva Kostis, who is 20-14 at 149 pounds, and Austin Trotman, who ranks No. 19 in the country at 184 pounds with a 20-4 record. Trotman comes into the evening matchup having won 12 bouts in a row.

A total of 12 different grapplers in both team's probable starting lineups have experience in the previous two dual matchups, including the scheduled rematch in the 149-pound bout between Gayeski and Kostis.

Last year, Gayeski scored two first period takedowns to jump out to a 4-3 lead after three minutes. Each grappler added escape points, Gayeski in the second and Kostis in the third, but neither could score a takedown, allowing Gayeski to secure the 5-4 win and put the 24-18 dual out of reach for the visitors.

As previously mentioned, Gayeski picked up his team-leading 23rd win of the season at George mason, when the redshirt senior nearly scored bonus points in the dual.

A reversal during the third period helped Gayeski (23-6) regain control of the bout and rack up riding time, but he had to settle for the 9-2 decision victory, as he could not record another takedown to claim the bonus points.

Joining Gayeski at the 20-win plateau on Thursday was Chad Porter (20-9), who picked up his team-leading 13th dual victory of the season. Porter made a move on Frankie McLaughlin late in the first period and was able to pin the 165-pounder to the mats with 11 seconds left before the first period ended (2:49).

The last notable victory of the night came at 157 pounds for the Flames, when Shaun Smith scored a 7-6 comeback win over Aaron Keeton.

Smith got away from Keeton late in the third and scored his third takedown of the match before regulation ended. The one-point win gave the senior his 60th career victory, pushing him into Liberty's Eagle Medal Club at the Bronze level (wrestlers with 60-79 career wins).

The dual with Appalachian State will serve as Liberty's final tune-up before the Flames travel to Millersville, Pa., to defend their title at the NCAA East Regionals on March 6.

Liberty has captured the title at the event the last three years, helping the program send 14 grapplers to the NCAA national championships during the three-year span.

Probable Starters
Appalachian State (9-10)
125 – Tony Gravely (7-9)
133 – Jacob Earp (12-11) or Weston Haney (1-6)
141 – Chris Collura (9-15)
149 – Savva Kostis (20-14)
157 – Chip Powell (8-10)
165 – Kyle Blevins (21-10)
174 – Carter Downs (10-12)
184 – No. 19 Austin Trotman (20-4)
197 – Dylan Temple (19-9)
285 – Ken Altarac (12-17)

Liberty (10-9)
125 – Jonathan Childress (10-13)
133 – Joe Pantaleo (12-10)
141 – Scott Clymer (17-10)
149 – Frankie Gayeski (23-6)
157 – Shaun Smith (16-8)
165 – Chad Porter (20-9)
174 – Brad Clark (15-12)
184 – Nick Knowles (15-13)
197 – Jacobi Johnson (10-18)
285 – Josh Pelletier (13-7) or Andrew Wilson (10-10)