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Castro Adds Four to Wrestling Roster
Four new wrestlers are set to join Liberty's three-time NCAA East Regional championship roster, as head coach Jesse Castro has announced the signing of four grapplers to national letters of intent for the 2010-11 academic year.
"These four signees for the Liberty wrestling program bring an extensive amount of experience to the program," stated Castro. "Each has earned All-America status in their respective weight classes through placing in national level tournaments.
"Due to the graduation of Frankie Gayeski and Shaun Smith, it was the intent of our coaching staff to hone in on the middle weights for this year's recruiting class."
Kurtis Becker (141 pounds - Mickleton, N.J.)
Kurtis Becker is a three-time state qualifier out of the Kingsway Regional High School program in Woolwich Township, N.J.
In 2007, Becker advanced to the Round of 12 at the Fargo Freestyle National Championships, while advancing to the same round of competition at the 2009 Super 32 Wrestling Championship in Greensboro, N.C.
Becker is a two-time district champion and a three-time regional place winner. As a senior, he placed fifth at both the New Jersey State Championships and the High School Senior Nationals.
The honor roll student will be graduating this spring in the upper half of his class, with a 3.2 GPA.
Becker already has ties to Liberty, as his older brother, Robert, was a graduate assistant at Liberty for the first two years the program returned the wrestling mats, just four seasons ago.
Gabriel Bird (149/157 pounds – Kissimmee, Fla.)
Gabriel Bird is coming off one of the more impressive seasons in Kissimmee-Osceola High School history, where he posted a 54-1 record with 29 falls and seven major decisions. The senior went unbeaten during his final high school season before falling 7-5 in the 2010 FHSAA 3A state final match-up.
Bird is a five-time state place winner, who finished his days at Kissimmee-Osceola with a 239-24 career mark, with 128 falls, 33 major decisions and 17 wins by technical fall.
In 2008, Bird finished third at the USA Wrestling Junior Nationals, earning All-America honors in the freestyle event. He won the 2009 POWERade Christmas Tournament in Pennsylvania and placed fifth at the 2009 Super 32 Wrestling Championship in Greensboro, N.C., at 145 pounds.
A versatile high school athlete, Bird is also a member of the baseball program and a two-time state qualifier in cross country.
Bird's older brother, Javier Maldonado, was a three-time SoCon champion and collegiate national qualifier at Tennessee-Chattanooga, finishing his career with the Mocs with a 82-36 record.
Eric Reger (149/157 pounds – Franklinville, N.J.)
Eric Reger comes to Liberty from Delsea Regional High School, the same New Jersey program that brought Liberty team-leading wrestler and 2010 national qualifier Frankie Gayeski.
Reger is a two-time All-America, earning the lofty honors during his freshman and sophomore seasons. As a high school rookie, Reger posted a 29-6 record and finished in fifth place at the NHSCA Nationals at 112 pounds. The following season at 125 pounds, he improved at the NHSCA Nationals, placing third.
Reger is a three-time New Jersey District 31 champion and a two-time New Jersey state freestyle champion. He is also a five-time member of the New Jersey national team.
Zeb Stewart (133/141 pounds – Lynchburg, Va.)
Zeb Stewart is a local product out of the highly successful Brookville High School wrestling program, where he became the Bees first wrestling All-American this past spring.
During his run at nationals in April, Stewart defeated five high school state champions and placed fourth at the High School Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va., at 135 pounds.
Stewart is a four-year letterwinner and four-time district champion and a two-time Seminole District Wrestler of the Year. He was a top four finisher at the state high school championship events all four years, including a fourth-place finish as a freshman, third place as a sophomore and junior and state runner-up as a senior.
Stewart is a second-generation Liberty wrestler, as his father, Warren Stewart, circled the mats for the Flames from 1988-90.
During his three-year stint on Liberty Mountain, the elder Stewart posted a 73-16-2 record, earning him a spot in Liberty's Eagle Medal Club at the Bronze level. He was a three-time Division I national qualifier at 142 pounds and a 1988 Division II national champion.