Flames wrestlers become first three-time NCWA National Duals champs
Trailing 15-3 midway through in Saturday night’s NCWA National Duals final, Liberty University’s wrestling team won the final six bouts to turn the tables on defending national champion Emmanuel (Ga.) College and emerge as 30-15 champions. The Flames, hosting the tournament in the LaHaye Ice Center for the second straight year, became the first team in history to claim three NCWA National Duals titles.
“Admittedly, being down 3-15 was an obstacle that only by the grace of God we could overcome,” Flames Head Coach Jesse Castro said.
As the second seed and reining runner-up, Liberty had to advance past three of the top four-seeded teams on Saturday's final day of the two-day tournament. The Flames, who finished 5-0 overall, opened with a 39-15 rout of top-seeded Central Florida in the quarterfinals before dominating third-seeded Grand Valley State, 44-6, to set up a finals rematch with fourth-seeded Emmanuel, who beat Liberty by a 33-13 count in last season’s final.
“It’s the result of guys buying in to what we’re trying to accomplish with our program,” Castro said. “We don’t have any single all-stars on our team. We came together as a team, worked hard and together as one, esprit de corps.”
The Flames will next compete at Liberty when the Flames vie for their seventh consecutive Mid-Atlantic Conference tournament title on Feb. 24 in the LaHaye Multipurpose Center.