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Four Wrestlers Place At 2006 Nittany Lion Open

December 3, 2006
|  State College, Pa.
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Tim Harner finished seventh at the Nittany Lion Open on Sunday.

Tim Harner finished seventh at the Nittany Lion Open on Sunday.

The Flames had four individuals place at one of the largest open wrestling tournaments on the East Coast this Sunday as Christian Smith (125 pounds), Sam Walters (133 pounds), Tim Harner (141 pounds) and Patrick Walker (heavyweight) all had strong showings at the 2006 Nittany Lion Open. 

Liberty's athletes were just a few of over 600 wrestlers at the one-day event, hosted by Penn State in Rec Hall. Christian Smith, who was competing unattached, opened the tournament for the Flames with an eighth-place finish at 125 pounds, marking the second-straight tournament that the Virginia Tech transfer has placed. 

Smith's run to the eighth-place finish was highlighted by three decision wins and an 11-0 major decision over Lock Haven's Obenson Blanc, before dropping a narrow 3-1 decision to Army's Fernando Martinez in the battle for seventh place. 

Sam Walters followed Smith at 133 pounds with an impressive run that included two decisions and wins by fall over King College's Shad Risssler (3:57) and Clarion's Rob Labrake (5:42). Walters dropped a 6-5 decision to Lock Haven's Danny Lopes in a battle to advance to the fifth-place match, followed by a 16-5 major decision loss to Shippensburg's Steve Fittery in the seventh-place match-up. 

Harner continued the Flames' strong showing at the event at 141 pounds with a 4-2 decision over Millersville's Cody Becker, a 14-2 major decision win over Old Dominion's Kyle Pardun and a win by fall over Clarion's Sal Lascari at 3:36. 

Eventual weight class winner Bryan Heller from Penn State halted Harner's run with a 5-2 decision, dropping Harner to the consolation round where he claimed seventh after Cleveland State's Mike Hurley had to retire due to medical reasons, giving Harner the seventh-place finish. 

Rounding out Liberty's top finishers on the day was heavyweight Patrick Walker's sixth-place finish in the prestigious event. Walker opened with a win by fall over Falcon Mat Club's Mario Luchien (2:22), before dropping a 6-2 decision to Bloomsburg's Mike Spaid who eventually finished second in the weight class. 

However, Walker made a strong push in the consolation bracket that included a 12-1 major decision over Pitt Johnstown's Jon Neese, a 6-5 decision over Michigan State's Alan O'Donnell and a 6-4 decision over VMI's Scott Buhman before bowing out of the event after a 3-2 loss to Navy's Scott Steele. 

Also seeing mat time for the Flames on the day was Zach McCray at 133 pounds, Aaron Kelley at 149 pounds, Shaun Smith at 157 pounds, Chad Porter at 165 pounds, Kyle Walters at 174 pounds and Chris Daggett at 184 pounds. 

McCray, dropped his only match of the day in a 4-1 decision loss to Binghamton's Kareem Naguib, and Kelley finished the day with a 2-2 record that included wins by fall over Cornell's Tim Ironman (3:30) and a 5-4 decision over Rutger's Jack Barrett. 

Porter also was 2-2 in the event with wins by fall over Cleveland State's Nathan Kimetz (2:36) and a 9-0 major decision win over Michigan State's Nick Shafer. Kyle Walters was 1-2, including an 8-1 decision over Binghamton's Anthony Esposito. 

Shaun Smith dropped an 8-1 decision to Penn State's Jon Clemens and Chris Daggett narrowly lost to Penn State's Make Ward, 3-2, in both wrestlers only matches in the event. 

The Flames will take the next several days off to finish up the fall semester and exam week before returning to the mats on December 20 when they travel to Reno, Nev., to participate in the Reno Invitational Tournament in the squad's final tournament before the Christmas break.