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Flames Sweep Duals, Set Milestones

February 4, 2011
|  Millersville, Pa.
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Chad Porter in his 100th career victory. (Photo courtesy of Millersville SID, Ethan Hulsey)

The Liberty wrestling squad swept the East Regional Duals on Friday afternoon, going undefeated in three duals inside of Pucillo Gymnasium, where Millersville hosted the 2011 event.

With the 3-0 record on the day, the Flames have been crowned champs at three consecutive East Regional Duals.

In 2009, the Flames held a 5-1 record in the event to be the top program. In 2008, also in Pucillo Gymnasium, Liberty posted an unblemished 4-0 record to capture their first East Regional Duals title. No official champion was crowned last year after only three teams could make the event due to weather limiting travel.

The three victories in a row pushes the Flames' current win streak to five, after previously knocking off Bucknell (24-15, Jan. 23) and UNC Greensboro (24-16, Feb. 2). Liberty is now 11-6 in dual events this season.

Two milestones were also set on the day, as Chad Porter surpassed 100 career victories and head coach Jesse Castro moved into second on Liberty's all-time coaching wins list. Castro's three victories on the day puts him to 62 for his collegiate career in four-plus season with the program. He passes Don Shuler, who had a 61-66-5 record in eight seasons at the helm of the Liberty program.

In the opening session, the Flames took down Sacred Heart, 36-13 in the first dual meeting between the programs. Sacred Heart made their debut at the East Regional Duals during the all-day session, as they have competed in the Colonial Athletic Association in previous years.

The Flames developed a 21-0 lead through the opening four bouts, earning pins from Joel Stafford (1:54) at 125 pounds and T. J. Mitchell (3:46) at 133 pounds. Freshman Bobby Leffew then posted a 6-1 decision over Anthony Ricco at 141 pounds for the Flames before Peter Crawford received a forfeit in the 149-pound bout.

Sacred Heart mounted a rally starting at 157 pounds behind Anthony Priore's 9-1 major decision over the Flames' Justin Krop. In a close match at 165 pounds, Eli Sanchez found himself down 4-2 going into the final two minutes of action. Despite escaping early in the period to close the gap, John Rizzitello held off Sanchez and earned the 8-5 decision to pull the dual's score to 21-7.

The Pioneers then scored their third victory in a row at 174 pounds, as Zachary Moran pinned Liberty's Marcus Nielson, 3:52 into the bout. The win continued to close the gap to eight, 21-13, but would be as close as Sacred Heart would get.

The Flames closed out the match with three more victories of their own, starting with Aaron Kelley's second-consecutive pin. Kelley took down Sam Morison at the 4:50 mark of the bout and extended the Flames' lead to 27-13.

After Sacred Heart forfeited the 197-pound bout to Aaron Thompson, Josh Pelletier added the final tally to the Flames score with a 4-0 decision.

After no score in the first, Pelletier gained two minutes of riding time in the second period. He'd then escape after starting down in the final time frame and also add a takedown. The riding time gave him the final 4-0 score and set the final numbers for the dual, 36-13 in favor of the Flames.

After a round of competition off, Liberty was impressive against host Millersville. The Flames posted wins in nine of 10 bouts to win running away, 40-6.

After a forfeit from Millersville in the opening 125-pound bout, Nathan Nelson earned a 13-3 major decision over Daniel Calzarette. The freshman put up six takedowns during the seven minutes of action to earn his victory and give the Flames a 10-0 lead.

Liberty varied its victories in the next four bouts, picking up four different types of victories. Joey Montgomery put the Flames ahead 13-0 with a 9-4 decision before Crawford earned his 17-7 major decision to extend the lead to 17-0. Crawford scored eight takedowns and earned the riding time bonus for his 17 points.

Next, Julian Colon wrapped up his bout at 157 pounds with a pin, defeating Kyle Toth at the 4:14 mark of the bout to keep the Marauders off the scoreboard, 23-0.

At 165 pounds, Porter went to the mat for his first match of the day looking for a milestone. He'd earn his 100th career victory with a 20-5 technical fall, which came at the end of regulation against Brandon Vernalli. The five points put the Flames ahead 28-0.

Coach Castro commented on Porter's accomplishment saying that with the win, "Chad moves into an elite group. It's quite an accomplishment for him."

Moving on, Millersville denied Liberty the shutout by getting a pin from Shane Smith at 174 pounds over Eli Sanchez. The fall victory for Smith is his 16th of the season and pushed the score to 28-6.
The Liberty rout continued at 184 pounds, as Kelley finished the match before the end of regulation for his third-straight bout. Kelley got the technical fall, 15-0 (3:06), against Jason Foor, putting Liberty up 33-6.

To close out the dual, Thompson picked up a 5-1 decision at 197 pounds before Pelletier added the final points by way of a 10-2 major decision. Their victories pushed the final tally to 40-6.
In the final match of the day, the Flames were pitted against Gardner-Webb who also had posted two victories on the afternoon. After a 30-16 win over Millersville to open the duals, Gardner-Webb defeated Sacred Heart, 43-9.

Liberty jumped out to a lead once again through two bouts, getting a decision from Robert Jillard at 125 pounds, Mitchell extended the lead to seven behind a 12-3 major decision.

The Runnin' Bulldogs answered back in the middle weights; however, earning three victories in a row to give the Flames their first deficit of the entire event.

In a tightly contested match at 141 pounds, Richie Spicel and Seth Hicks traded control throughout the bout. Spicel gained the advantage near the end of the bout to pick up the 10-8 decision and post Gardner-Webb on the board, 7-3.

The Medved brothers held down the 149 and 157-pound positions. Ryan Medved first earned a technical fall, 18-0 (4:52), over Crawford before Alex Medved registered a 9-7 decision over Colon. The two wins gave Gardner-Webb its first lead through the 149-pound bout (8-7), and extended it to 11-7 halfway through the match.

At 165 pounds, Sanchez was sent out by Castro. Sanchez gained an 8-0 edge through one period, but Justin Guthrie made an attempt to come back, as he outscored Sanchez 8-3 in the final period. The Flame was able to hold on; however, earning the 12-9 decision and pulling Liberty within one, 11-10.

Porter was then bumped up to compete at 174 pounds. After a scoreless first period, the redshirt senior grabbed a 4-2 lead after two periods. With riding time and a takedown in the final time frame, Porter earned the 7-3 decision.

With his 101st career victory, he tied his coach, as Castro registered 101 career victories in a Liberty singlet. With Porter's second win of the day, he concluded his career East Regional Duals record with a perfect 11-0.

Kelley scored his second technical fall of the day at 184 pounds, getting the 16-1 victory just 2:28 into the bout. He extended the Flames lead to 18-11 with two to go. Gardner-Webb answered with a 3-0 decision from Travis Porter at 197 pounds, leaving the heavyweight bout to decide the match, as the Liberty edge was only four, 18-14.

Josh Pelletier quickly put all questions to rest regarding the outcome of the match, as he pinned Tyler Arrowood just 44 seconds into the bout. The Flames secured the victory and perfect day with the 24-14 win.

Coach Castro commented on the day by saying, "I thought it was a productive day. I thought the guys wrestled at a high pace. We were pleased with the wins, especially with our backup kids that stepped up and filled the gaps. I think we have some work to do getting ready for the East Regional Championships.

"Against our toughest foe, being Gardner-Webb, I didn't think we matched up well regarding our weights. It's a good indicator on what we have to work on for the qualifier."

The Flames have a slight break, as their next competition will be on Thursday, when they invite George Mason into the Schilling Center for a 5 p.m. start. Liberty has won the last two match-ups against the Patriots.