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Liberty Set to Host George Mason
The Liberty wrestling squad will put its five-dual win streak on the line Thursday evening, as they welcome George Mason to the Schilling Center for a 5 p.m. dual.
The matchup is the 16th between the programs in a series that has been dominated in stretches. Dating back to 1979, the Flames won the first six duals before the Patriots rolled off victories in the next seven. In the most recent action, the Flames have won back-to-back duals, giving them an 8-7 overall edge.
Last year, Liberty won eight of the 10 bouts to take down George Mason, 30-10, inside the RAC in Fairfax, Va.
The previous two duals were tightly contested, with each coming down to the last bout. The Flames' Chris Daggett sealed the victory in 2009 with a win by fall at 184 pounds, giving Liberty the 23-19 win, also at the RAC. In 2008, however, George Mason came from behind with a major decision at 197 pounds for the 19-18 victory inside the Vines Center.
Coming off of a 3-0 day at the East Regional Duals in Millersville, Pa., last Friday, the Flames now have an 11-6 dual meet record as they enter the literal home stretch of their schedule. Four of the team's final five events are on Liberty Mountain. This includes hosting honors for the 2011 NCAA East Regional Championships, where Liberty will try to add to its total of 20 NCAA qualifiers in the last four years.
Liberty wrestling has been strong at home since their reinstatement for the 2006-07 season, posting a 14-5-1 record. This includes a mark of 6-1 in the Schilling Center, with the latest being a 38-3 defeat of Campbell on Dec. 11.
George Mason is 0-18 this season, still looking for its first dual win of the year. The Flames and Patriots have three opponents in common. George Mason has dropped duals to Princeton (29-16), a team the Flames defeated 28-15 on Dec. 3, and UNC Greensboro (34-12), who Liberty just upended on Feb. 2, 24-16. Both teams have lost matches to Binghamton. George Mason lost 34-7 on Feb. 2, while Liberty was defeated on Dec. 3 by the Bearcats, 25-13.
Senior Brandon Bucher is the leading winner on George Mason's active roster, posting a 10-8 record at 141 and 149 pounds. He also leads the team in dual victories with seven.
While the Flames and Patriots dual has been a staple on the schedule as of late, there is only one potential repeat matchup.
Aaron Kelley and Mendbagana Tovuujav rounded the mat in the Flames' 2009 victory, but Tovuujav held the upper hand, taking the 9-5 decision. The Flames' redshirt senior has been on a roll since returning to the starting lineup after dealing with a shoulder injury. Kelley is 8-3 overall, going 6-1 since being back in action for the Flames Jan. 21 dual with Navy. This includes four-straight bouts where he has not needed the full seven minutes to claim victory, earning two wins by fall and two technical falls.
The Flames' 165-pounder, Chad Porter, is coming off a milestone weekend at the East Regional Duals. Porter posted two wins to bring his career record to 11-0 at the event. His two wins also elevated him to a 101-50 career record while donning a Liberty singlet, entering him in the Flames Gold level of the Eagle Medal Club. Seven other Liberty grapplers hold that distinction, as the club honors wrestlers with 100+ career victories. Porter is currently tied with his head coach Jesse Castro for seventh on the Liberty wins all-time list. Porter has won six bouts in a row.
Freshman Robert Jillard's performance as of late has set him as the Flames' leading winner this season, posting a 16-9 overall record. The Franklinville, N.J., native has won five of his last seven at 125 pounds. Jillard ranks tied for second on the team in wins by fall, earning five this season.
Josh Pelletier also comes into the dual with George Mason hitting a hot stretch. The redshirt senior has won seven of his last 10 and leads the team in dual victories with 11.
Fans not able to make it to the Schilling Center can follow live stats online, through use of the NWCA Scorebook link at the top of the page.
Updates will also be available on the LibertyFlames Twitter page. Fans wishing to track Liberty Athletics' coverage will need to "follow" the LibertyFlames page by clicking the link at the top of the page.
Probable Starters for Liberty vs. George Mason Dual:
125 – Robert Jillard (16-9) or Joel Stafford (11-5)
133 – T. J. Mitchell (14-13)
141 – Seth Hicks (9-11) or Bobby Leffew (6-10)
149 – Peter Crawford (7-9)
157 – Julian Colon (12-11) or Eric Reger (9-14)
165 – Eli Sanchez (4-15) or Chad Porter (17-7)
174 – Marcus Nielson (2-6) or Jonathan Perkins (1-9)
184 – Aaron Kelley (8-3)
197 – Aaron Thompson (11-11)
285 – Josh Pelletier (14-6) or Jake Wright (0-3)
George Mason (0-18-0)
125 – Open
133 – John Delgado (3-4)
141 – Denny Herndon (7-12)
149 – Brandon Bucher (10-8)
157 – Jaaziah Bethea (7-6)
165 – Jimmy Kaden (8-11) or Aaron Keaton (9-17)
174 – Greg Scott (3-18) or Seth Robertson (0-8)
184 – Mendbagana Tovuujav (3-6)
197 – Webb (2-5)
285 – Hunter Manspile (7-18)