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Liberty Splits Duals Matches at Chattanooga
Liberty wrestling split a pair of duals on Sunday afternoon, after competing in a tri-match with Chattanooga and Cumberland, inside of McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The Flames (4-2) dropped their opening match with Southern Conference member, Chattanooga (2-1), 26-16, and then defeated NAIA program Cumberland (0-3), 40-3. Chattanooga later defeated Cumberland, 42-6, to go 2-0 on the day, while Cumberland finished the afternoon 0-2.
In the first match of the day, Prescott Garner started the Mocs off quickly at 125 pounds, earning a victory by fall over Joel Stafford at 1:41, giving Chattanooga the early 6-0 lead.
Joe Pantaleo quickly pulled the Flames within two after shutting out Cody Hood at 133 pounds, earning the 9-0 major decision.
At 141, Seth Hicks faced No. 6 Cody Cleveland, and fell behind 6-2 in the first period. Despite tallying four escapes, Hicks could not add any other points, and fell to the All-American in a 12-4 major decision.
Clymer then tied the match at 10-10 after earning a victory by fall 4:56 into the 149-pound match over Dean Pavlou.
Chattanooga regained the momentum in the match behind back-to-back victories at the 157-pound and 165-pound weight classes. Rich Bushby was defeated by Josh Condon, 12-3, to pull the Mocs ahead 14-10, before the Mocs extended their lead to 20-10 behind a victory by fall (3:27) from Brandon Wright over Eli Sanchez.
In his first match of the year after recovering from a finger injury, redshirt senior, Chad Porter came out victorious with an 8-2 decision over Levi Clemons at 174 pounds. With the bout tied, Porter escaped, and then scored a takedown, followed by a two-point near fall, in the final 1:04. The victory pulled the Flames to within seven in the match with three bouts to go.
At 184 pounds, another ranked wrestler for Chattanooga awaited Aaron Kelley. No. 19 Jason McCroskey opened up a 5-0 lead after two periods, and finished by earning an 8-3 decision, extending the Mocs lead back to 10.
Aaron Thompson was able to pick up a 6-3 decision over Niko Brown at 197 pounds, but left the Mocs with a seven point lead, sealing the dual victory for Chattanooga.
Josh Pelletier dropped the final match at heavyweight to Matt Lettner, 5-2, giving the Mocs the 26-16 victory at the end of the match.
The Flames wrapped up the day by defeating Cumberland, 40-13, in their first-ever meeting with the Bulldogs. Joel Stafford started the Flames scoring by taking a 15-6 major decision over Noah Hunt at 125-pounds.
The Flames sent Joe Pantaleo to the mats at 133 pounds, where he picked up a come from behind decision. Entering the final period behind by two points, Pantaleo scored a reversal after being awarded a point for a technical violation by his opponent, Joshua Chappa, pulling him ahead for the 6-5 win.
Another exciting match ensued at 141, as extra time would be needed. Joey Montgomery was able to pull out the sudden victory, by scoring a takedown with 15 seconds remaining in the extra time, giving Liberty the 10-0 lead after three bouts.
In the final seven bouts, the Flames made quick work of the Bulldogs, earning four of their final six victories by fall.
Bushby provided the first pin for Liberty at 157 pounds, by defeating Curtis Flanagan at 6:44.
Eric Reger followed suit at 165, pinning Cody Bleaken 2:32 into the bout.
In the lone victory by the Bulldogs, Zeke Hunt took the 6-2 decision over Sanchez at 165 pounds.
Freshman, Royal Brettrager II earned his third victory by fall in the early season, by dropping James Casadaban in 1:46 at 174 pounds.
The Flames rounded off the dual match with a 7-0 decision by Marcus Nielson at 184 pounds, a 4-3 decision by Aaron Thompson at 197 pounds, and the fourth win by fall for the Flames in the match, coming from Josh Pelletier, 2:43 into his bout. The final points from the upper weight classes gave the Flames the 40-3 win.
The Flames return to action next weekend, as they travel to Philadelphia, Pa., to compete in the Keystone Classic on Nov. 21.
Last year, the Flames came away with the team title, amongst a field of top 25 programs, Duke and Penn. This year the field includes the likes of host, Penn, Edinboro and Northwestern.