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Harner Places Fifth At Reno Tournament of Champions to Lead Liberty
The Reno Tournament of Champions field included some of the elite wrestling programs in the nation with four of the 29 collegiate teams being ranked in the Top 25, including fourth-ranked Oklahoma State, eighth-ranked Northwestern, 10th-ranked Central Michigan and 21st-ranked Cal Poly.
Central Michigan narrowly won the event over Oklahoma State as the Chippewas finished atop the team standings with 132.5 points and the Cowboys followed just behind with 131 points. Liberty placed 13th in the event with 39 team points.
Sean Katz and Christian Smith represented the Flames in the 125 weight class. Katz finishing the event with a pair of losses as he dropped two matches by decision to The Citadel's Tyler Sim (Dec., 6-1) and to Western Wyoming's Mike Wilding (Dec., 6-2).
Smith suffered an early loss, a 9-3 decision to Oregon State's Ryan Dunn, but responded with an 8-0 major decision win over Cal State Fullerton's Jamie Hernandez, before falling out of the consolation bracket after a 5-2 decision loss to Embry-Riddle's Richard Byrd.
The Flames also wrestled a pair at 133 pounds, with Sam Walters finishing the event 2-2 and Zac McCray finishing with two losses. Walters opened the event up with an 8-2 win over Montana State's Colt Heger, before falling to the consolation round after a forfeit loss.
Walters responded with a 14-3 major decision over Southern Oregon's Junior Valladolid, before bowing out of the tournament after a 4-0 decision loss to Cal State Fullerton's T.J. Dillashaw. McCray suffered a 7-3 decision loss to Purdue's Sean Schmaltz and a 3-1 decision loss to Boise State's Levi Jones.
Harner stayed in the championship bracket for a while with wins over Southern Oregon's Dan Herb (Major dec., 16-2) and Purdue's Jason Cook (Dec., 8-6), before suffering a 7-1 decision loss at the hands of Oregon's Kyle Larson, who eventually claimed the title in the weight class.
Harner also posted two wins to start off the consolation bracket with victories over Central Michigan Eric Kruger (Dec., 7-5) and Cal State Fullerton's Bennie Garcia (Dec., 5-2). A loss to Adams State's Joey Deaguero's sent Harner to the fifth-place bout where he won by default over Minnesota State's Efrain Ayala.
Aaron Kelley was the Flames' lone representative at 149 pounds as he posted an 8-0 major decision win over Adams State's Joe Kelso, before falling to Western Wyoming's Carter Downing in a technical fall (15-0) and to Minnesota State's Bill Mekeel in a close 7-6 decision.
Shaun Smith also posted a 1-2 record in the event at 157 pounds as he recorded a 6-4 decision over Clarion's Lucas Christopher, before bowing out after losses to Boise State's Brad Muri (Dec., 3-1) and Duke's Addison Nuding (Dec., 6-0).
After suffering an early major decision loss to Oregon's Brett Arand, Chad Porter made quite a run in the 165 pound consolation bracket. Porter won four-straight matches, including wins over Southern Oregon's Cody Ponder (Fall, 2:00), Western Wyoming's Kyle Morrow (Fall, 3:36), Cal State Bakersfield's Daniel Atando (Dec., 11-5) and Boise State's Luke Smith (Fall, 3:06), before being knocked out of the event with a 7-2 decision loss to Montana State – Northern's Greg Hagel.
Liberty had two wrestlers take to the mats at 174 pounds with Kyle Walters and Jonathan Campbell both winning one of their three matches. Walters opened up the event with a 3-1 decision win over Newberry's Quinn Tolbert before suffering losses at the hands of Oregon State's Brandon Mason (Major dec., 11-0) and Stanford's Jake Johnson (default).
Campbell also opened with a win as he pinned Southwestern Oregon's Darin Frey at 2:52, before bowing out of the event after losses to Oregon's Jeremy Larson (Fall, 1:52) and Southwestern Oregon's Cody Leifhelt (Fall, 4:52).
Chris Daggett had his most successful tournament showing of the year at 184 pounds as he posted a 2-2 record on the day. Daggett picked up wins over Stanford's Zack Giesen (Major dec., 15-5) and Duke's Dan Fox (Major dec., 9-1), before falling to Central Michigan's Christian Sinnott (Major dec., 12-3) and Montana State – Northern's Chad Seely (Dec., 7-5).
Rounding out the Flames was Patrick Walker at heavyweight with a 3-2 record on the day. Walker started with an 8-1 decision win over Southwestern Oregon's Clay Wunder before being pinned (1:36) by Cal Poly's Cody Parker.
Walker followed with an 8-0 major decision over Adams State's Jeff Schoosaw and a win by fall (1:48) over Clarion's A.J. Brooks before suffering a 5-3 decision loss to Boise State's Adny Patrick to end his tournament run.
Following the Christmas Break, the Flames will return to action on January 6 when Liberty travels to Norfolk, Va., to participate in the Virginia State Intercollegiates.
Reno Tournament of Champions Team Scores
1. Central Michigan 132.5
2. Oklahoma State 131
3. Oregon State 96.5
4. Cal Poly 95.5
5. Purdue 88
6. Northwestern 70
7. Cal State Bakersfield 63
8. Cal State Fullerton 60
9. Stanford 59.5
10. Minnesota State at Mankato 58
11. Boise State 52.5
12. UC Davis 52
13. Liberty 39
14. Arizona State 34.5
15. Wyoming 33.5
16. Adams State College 29.5
17. The Citadel 29
18. Great Falls 27.5
19. Newberry 25
20. Oregon 22
21. Embry-Riddle 21
22. Clarion 17
23. Duke 15
24. Southwestern Oregon CC 12
25. Western Wyoming CC 11.5
26. Montana State Northern 9.5
27. Utah Valley State 8
28. Southern Oregon 6
29. Colorado School of Mines 5