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Wrestling Returns to Action at Princeton
After nearly two weeks away from competition, the Liberty wrestling squad returns to the mats on Friday, as they match up against Princeton and Binghamton in a tri-match in Princeton's Dillon Gymnasium.
The Flames return to dual action after finishing in seventh place at the Keystone Classic on Nov. 21. Liberty was led by Scott Clymer (149 pounds) and Josh Pelletier (heavyweight), who each earned fourth-place finishes at the event.
With Clymer's 4-2 record on the day, the redshirt junior passed 45 career wins, giving him honorable mention status in Liberty Wrestling's Eagle Medal Club. Clymer joins redshirt seniors Chad Porter and Aaron Kelley as current Flames in the club. Porter has 85 career victories, placing him at the Silver level, while Kelley has 66 to be at the Bronze level.
Through six duals this season, the Flames have produced a 4-2 record. Liberty picked up three dual wins in its first weekend of competition, going 3-1 at the Terrapin Duals. After starting their day with a 24-12 loss to West Virginia, Liberty rolled off three straight victories against McDaniel (30-9), Maryland (21-17) and Johns Hopkins (35-9).
The following weekend, Liberty split its dual matches at Chattanooga. The Flames dropped their match with host Chattanooga, 26-16, before defeating a nationally ranked NAIA Cumberland program, 40-3.
Junior Aaron Thompson has started each dual match for the Flames at 197 pounds and leads the squad in dual victories, holding a 5-1 record. Four of his wins have come by decision, with the fifth being a fall (2:33) over Reid Mosquera of Johns Hopkins.
Redshirt senior Josh Pelletier anchors the Flames' lineup at heavyweight and owns the program's second best record in dual matches at 4-1. Pelletier leads the squad in overall victories, holding a 7-3 overall mark, and ranks second on the team in wins by fall with three.
Joey Montgomery has yet to surrender any points in dual action, posting a 3-0 record with each coming by decision at 141 pounds.
This marks the second straight year where the Flames will face both the Bearcats and Tigers on the same day. Last season, Liberty competed against Binghamton and Princeton, in addition to the U.S. Merchant Marines, in a quad match hosted by Binghamton. The Flames defeated Princeton, 28-12, while dropping the match with Binghamton, 25-15. Liberty also defeated the U.S. Merchant Marines 34-12 on the day. Each program was a new addition to the Flames' recent schedule, with the only past dual encounter being with Princeton during the 1992-93 season, where Liberty was victorious, 24-15.
Binghamton may be the tougher competition again this season, as the Bearcats have had 11 placewinners in two tournaments and hold a 3-2 dual record. The Bearcats' two losses have been narrow defeats, dropping a 19-15 match with Michigan State and an 18-15 dual with Northern Iowa. Binghamton has also been "receiving votes" in each of the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Polls this season.
The Bearcats return seven starters this season from a squad that closed out last year's campaign with a 21st place NCAA finish to go along with a Colonial Athletic Association championship. Five of those returners were NCAA qualifiers last season, while four are ranked in W.I.N.'s most recent national rankings.
Justin Lister leads the Bearcats at 157 pounds, with a No. 12 ranking. The junior made a deep run at last year's NCAA Championships, earning All-American honors with a fourth-place finish as an unseeded wrestler.
Matt Kaylor and Nate Schneidel each hold the No. 18 spot in W.I.N.'s latest rankings at 165 and 184 pounds, respectively. Both are off to a solid start in dual matches this season, as Kaylor is unblemished at 5-0 and Schneidel is 3-1. Additionally, in tournament competition, Schneidel placed second in Binghamton's own BU Open tournament and at the Cornell Body Bar. Not to be outdone, Kaylor has earned a third and a fourth place finish in the same events.
Don Vinson is the final ranked Bearcat, being No. 19 at 149 pounds. Vinson is undefeated in dual events this year, matching Kaylor with a 5-0 mark.
This will be Princeton's first dual meet of the season. Each of the first three weekends of their season the Tigers have competed in tournaments.
Liberty has already been in competition with Princeton this season, as both squads grappled in the Keystone Classic. The Flames finished one place in front of the Tigers, who ended the day in eighth place with 50 team points. However, Princeton held the edge in face-to-face matchups with the Flames, earning four victories in five bouts between the programs on the day. Joey Montgomery picked up the sole win for the Flames over the Tigers with a 10-4 decision over Seth Hazleton at 141 pounds.
Garrett Frey is Princeton's premier wrestler, currently holding a No. 15 ranking at 125 pounds. Frey has already picked up first, second and third-place finishes in tournaments this season.
Freshman Ryan Callahan has been impressive for the Tigers in the early season at 174 pounds, also placing at each tournament. The 2010 undefeated New Jersey state champion took a first-place finish at the Central Jersey open before earning fifth and fourth-place finishes at the BU Open and the Keystone Classic.
The 125 and 174-pound match ups could be the premier match ups in the dual, as Liberty's Jonathan Childress defeated Frey last season with a 6-2 decision. At 174 pounds, the possibility of Royal Brettrager II and Callahan meeting up would feature two freshmen that are off to solid collegiate careers.
LibertyFlames.com will provide live coverage from Princeton's Dillon Gymnasium on Friday via the LibertyFlames Twitter page. The Flames begin by facing Binghamton at 4:30 p.m. and the match with Princeton follows at 6:00 p.m.
Fans wishing to track Liberty Athletics' coverage from Princeton will need to "follow" the LibertyFlames Twitter page by clicking here or the link at the top of the page.
Liberty's Probable Starters (2010-11 Record):
125 – Jonathan Childress (0-1) or Joel Stafford (4-3)
133 – T. J. Mitchell (2-2)
141 – Seth Hicks (4-4) or Joey Montgomery (4-2)
149 – Scott Clymer (5-3) or Rich Bushby (1-2)
157 – Julian Colon (2-3)
165 – Chad Porter (1-0)
174 – Royal Brettrager II (6-4) or Marcus Nielson (2-0)
184 – Aaron Kelley (3-2)
197 – Aaron Thompson (5-1)
285 – Josh Pelletier (7-3)