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Flames Drop Duals Opener to No. 15 Michigan
The Flames held the lead until the completion of the third bout against No. 15 Michigan, but the Wolverines earned victories in eight of the 10 weight classes to secure the win in the opening round of the Virginia Duals, Friday morning inside the Hampton Coliseum.
The 37-9 loss drops Liberty's dual meet record to 6-4 on the year, along with sending them to the consolation round of the tournament where they will face Virginia at 3 p.m. With Michigan's win, they improve to 2-1 in dual meets, and will move on to face Buffalo at 3 p.m. in the championship bracket.
Freshman Robert Jillard got the Flames off to a quick start at 125 pounds, earning a pin just 55 seconds into the opening bout of the dual. The pin is Jillard's fifth of the year, ranking him second on the team in that category.
With the 6-0 edge, T.J. Mitchell battled No. 18 Zac Stevens in a defensive bout at 133 pounds. After Stevens scored a takedown in the opening period, scoring was limited. Stevens added an escape in the second while Mitchell's lone point came with an escape in the final period. With 2:19 of riding time, Stevens earned the 3-1 decision to pull the Wolverines to a three-point deficit, 6-3.
Michigan earned wins in the next four bouts to grab the lead from Liberty and they would not let go of the advantage the rest of the way.
At 141 and 149 pounds, the Wolverines posted wins by fall. The Flames 141-pounder, Joey Montgomery stayed tough with the nation's No. 1 grappler, Kellen Russell, through two periods and was down 5-0 going into the third. However, in the final period Russell overpowered the Flames junior and earned the win by fall (6:05) and give Michigan the 9-6 lead.
At 149 pounds, Eric Reger was defeated by Eric Grajales 1:15 into the bout, pushing Michigan's lead to 11 points, 15-6.
Julian Colon entered the final period down one, 4-3, against Aaron Hynes at 157 pounds, but Hynes escaped and scored on a takedown to extend his lead and ride out the final period. With 2:58 of riding time, he earned the 8-3 decision to put Michigan ahead 18-6.
Michigan added its third and final win by fall at 165 pounds, with Dan Yates pinning redshirt senior Chad Porter 3:27 into the bout.
Freshman Royal Brettrager II halted the Wolverines streak of five straight wins by blanking Mary Boyer for the 6-0 decision, starting with a takedown in the opening period. After starting in the down position in the second, the Kirtland, Ohio, native escaped and scored another takedown to go up 5-0. The Flames 174-pound grappler would then ride out Boyer in the final period and add the riding time bonus to take the 6-0 decision.
After a forfeit at 184 pounds to put Michigan up 30-9, the Wolverines picked up victories in what has been the strongest weight classes for the Flames in duals this season, the 197 pounds and heavyweight weight divisions.
At 197 pounds, Aaron Thompson dropped just his second dual bout of the year, with No. 15 Anthony Biondo earning the 11-3 major decision.
To complete the dual, Michigan's No. 8 Ben Apland closed out for the Wolverines, defeating the Flames' Josh Pelletier, 6-1, bringing the final score to 37-9 in favor of the Big Ten program.
Live coverage from the Virginia Duals continues on LibertyFlames.com with blog coverage at 3 p.m. when the Flames face the Virginia Cavaliers.