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Flames wrestler lands individual national title

March 15, 2014 : Liberty University News Service

Liberty freshman Ryan Diehl receives the NCWA wrestler of the year award.
Flames freshmen Ryan Diehl receives the NCWA Wrestler of the Year award after winning the 133-pound title in Allen, Texas.

Liberty University wrestler Ryan Diehl capped off a phenomenal freshman season as an undefeated 133-pound national champion, helping the Flames hold on for a second-place team showing at Saturday's NCWA National Championships at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas. Diehl also received the NCWA's Wrestler of the Year award.

The second-seeded Diehl upset Massachusetts Institute of Technology's top-seeded, undefeated, defending national champion senior Sam Shames, 15-10, to finish his first year of collegiate wrestling at 34-0. As the Flames' only championship finalist, he needed to win to allow Liberty (171.5 points) to hold off third-place Shorter University (162.5) and finish runner-up to national team champion Grand Canyon University (254.5).

"It was an amazing day," Flames Head Coach Jesse Castro said. "It's been like a roller coaster."

Seven Flames wrestlers reached the championship quarterfinals after Thursday's opening day of competition, with Diehl advancing to the finals.