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Flames Finish Seventh at Keystone Classic
The Liberty wrestling team came up short in its attempt to repeat at the Keystone Classic on Sunday, finishing in seventh place with 60.5 team points on the day in the tournament hosted by Penn at The Palestra.
The Flames had a tough road to repeat with a larger field this year, as they entered the competition without wrestlers competing at the 184 and 197-pound weight classes due to injuries. Additionally, Liberty fielded only one grappler at the 174-pound and heavyweight weight classes, while also missing starters at the 125 and 165-pound weight classes.
This year's 12-team field included two ranked squads, in addition to programs that are also receiving votes for Top 25 consideration.
Penn came away with the team title, earning 143.5 team points. Despite not being ranked as a team, Penn currently has four grapplers individually ranked in InterMat's most recent Top 20 national rankings. Additionally, the Quakers had six squad members challenge for individual titles, coming away victorious in five matches.
Rounding out the team standings was No. 15 Northwestern, in second place with 138 points, No. 21 American, in third with 102 points, Rider in fourth with 82.5 points and Edinboro in fifth with 80 points.
Scott Clymer led the way for the Flames on the day, finishing with a 4-2 record and earning fourth-place honors at 149 pounds. Clymer opened up his day with three-straight decisions in the championship bracket, including two 3-0 blankings of Fred Rogers of Rider and Chris Piccolella of Duke.
The redshirt junior then was sent to the wrestleback bracket after dropping a 14-3 major decision to American's Ganbayar Sanjaa.
After moving on to the third-place bout following a forfeit, Clymer lost a close 4-2 decision to Zac Cibula, to finish in fourth place.
Redshirt senior Josh Pelletier also managed a fourth-place finish for the Flames after posting a 3-2 mark at heavyweight. Michael Horton of Edinboro quickly put Pelletier into the wrestleback bracket after upsetting the No. 1 seed, 2-1, in the second period of extra time.
The Charleston, Maine native then rolled off three-consecutive victories including a pin against Juan Adams of VMI (5:55), and a 4-1 decision over No. 3 seed Kevin Innis of Boston.
Pelletier then met Horton again in the third-place match of the heavyweight bracket. The Edinboro foe would get the best of him once again, giving Pelletier fourth place for the event.
Redshirt freshman Seth Hicks had a good showing for the Flames in his first collegiate tournament. After wrestling to a 3-2 record, Hicks grabbed a fifth-place finish. Having a No. 5 seed for the tournament, the Bakersfield, Calif., native opened the day with back-to-back decision wins, including a 7-6 win over No. 4 seed Kaleb Friedley of Northwestern, who ended the day with a third-place finish.
After back-to-back 9-3 decision losses, Hicks took a 5-2 decision over Vinny Pisani of Edinboro to earn fifth place honors.
Two more Liberty wrestlers placed in the event, both ending the day in sixth place.
Joe Pantaleo won his opening bout at 133 pounds, 16-6, over Jake Henson of American before getting sent to the wrestleback bracket by eventual fourth-place finisher Eric Morrill of Edinboro, 6-1. The Stafford, Va. native and No. 5 seed then won twice, including a pin over Cortlandt Choate of Brown, before losing to Rider's No. 3 seed Jimmy Kirchner, 8-2, and then forfeiting his fifth place match.
Freshman Royal Brettrager also placed sixth, with a 3-3 record. The No. 5 seed in the event opened the day with his fourth pin of the young season, over Willy Mello of Duke. Next, Brettrager fell out of the championship bracket, losing a 9-7 sudden victory decision to No. 4 seed Ryan Callahan of Princeton. After major decision and decision wins, the Kirtland, Ohio native dropped his final two bouts to finish in sixth place.
Also posting a winning record on the day for the Flames was freshman Robert Jillard. Jillard went 3-2 in a tough 125-pound bracket, including a loss to eventual champion, Brandon Precin of Northwestern who currently ranks No. 2 nationally.
After a brief break for Thanksgiving, the Flames return to the mats on Dec. 3, when they travel to Princeton, N.J., to take part in a tri-match with Princeton and Binghamton.