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Flames Host Appalachian State in Regular-Season Finale
Liberty wrestling welcomes Appalachian State to the Vines Center, Tuesday evening at 6 p.m., in a dual which will serve as each team's regular-season finale before preparing for postseason tournaments. The Flames host the NCAA East Region Championship on March 6, while Appalachian State hosts its own Southern Conference Tournament on March 5.
The Flames are 13-7 for their 2010-11 campaign and look to add another victory to their win total. Liberty's 13 wins are the program's most since the 2006-07 season, when head coach Jesse Castro's squad came out on top in 16 duals.
Winners of seven of its last eight, Liberty's lone loss came at the hands of No. 6 Virginia Tech last Thursday evening. Despite dropping the overall dual, redshirt seniors Chad Porter and Aaron Kelley picked up impressive victories at 165 and 184 pounds, respectively. Porter knocked off the No. 14 ranked grappler in the nation, Pete Yates, with a 15-7 major decision.
The series record between the programs stands in favor of Appalachian State, 7-4-3, but Liberty has been the victor in the last two meetings.
Last season, Castro's squad knocked off the Mountaineers on their senior night with a 25-10 win in Boone, N.C. The Flames began with three decisions to take a quick 9-0 lead, but the Mountaineers responded, edging within 12-10 through seven bouts. Liberty closed strongly, however, taking the final three bouts.
In the 2009 regular-season cap, the Flames owned the 24-18 advantage to pick up the win. The road to victory was different, however, as the Mountaineers held the lead with three bouts to go. However, the Flames rolled off three-straight victories to close out the match for the win.
This year's Appalachian State squad has grappled to an 8-10-1 record, including a 2-3 mark in the Southern Conference. In tournament competition, the Mountaineers have had a similar schedule to the Flames. The Flames finished ahead of the Mountaineers in both the Keystone Classic (LU 7th, ASU 10th) and the Southern Scuffle (LU 27th, ASU 28th), while the Mountaineers bested the Flames at the Reno Tournament of Champions (ASU 13th, LU 16th).
Appalachian State is coming off a 36-9 win over Davidson, where the Wildcats forfeited three weight classes due to injuries.
Porter will have the opportunity to knock off another ranked grappler, as No. 18 ranked Kyle Blevins leads the way for the Mountaineers with a 33-7 mark at 165 pounds. The junior has placed in each of his tournaments this year, including a weight-class title at the Hokie Open. He brings a nine-bout win streak into the match with Liberty.
Porter met Blevins on two occasions last year, taking each bout. At the Southern Scuffle, Porter earned the 2-0 decision, while in the dual meet he claimed a 4-2 sudden victory.
Austin Trotman also holds a ranking at 184 pounds, as he is No. 19 in InterMat's latest poll. The redshirt junior is 25-7 this season and has rolled off victories in his last 12 bouts, including taking three wins by fall. He'll face off with another hot wrestler at 184 pounds, as the Flames' Kelley is the winner of his last eight, with four wins by fall.
Savva Kostis is another 20-win grappler for the Mountaineers, boasting a 22-10 mark at 149 pounds. The junior has also had tournament success, as he's grabbed fifth-place finishes at both the Hokie Open and the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Live stats for the match with Appalachian State will be available through the NWCA Live Scorebook.
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.
A video stream will also be available for the match between the Flames and Mountaineers. This is offered through the Big South Network with a $3.95 charge to watch the single dual.
Probable Starters for Liberty vs. Appalachian State
125 – Robert Jillard (17-10) or Justin Branham (8-13)
133 – T. J. Mitchell (16-14)
141 – Seth Hicks (9-12) or Joe Pantaleo (6-4)
149 – Peter Crawford (7-12) or Joey Montgomery (10-11)
157 – Julian Colon (14-12)
165 – Chad Porter (19-8)
174 – Eli Sanchez (4-17) or Royal Brettrager II (10-11)
184 – Aaron Kelley (11-3)
197 – Aaron Thompson (13-12)
285 – Josh Pelletier (15-7) or Jacob Wright (0-3)
Appalachian State (8-10-1, 2-3 SoCon):
125 – Tony Gravely (13-17)
133 – Brett Boston (12-15)
141 – Mike Kessler (15-16)
149 – Savva Kostis (22-10)
157 – John Blakely (8-13)
165 – Kyle Blevins (33-7)
174 – Carter Downs (4-16)
184 – Austin Trotman (25-7)
197 – Jon Hartley (1-8)
285 – Brock Durfee (0-2)