Wrestlers win five men's, two women's national titles in Texas
March 16, 2019 | Allen, Texas
Liberty University's men's wrestling team defended its NCWA Grand National Championship crown with authority, Saturday night at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas.
The Flames won a school-record five individual titles and had 11 All-American (top-eight) finishes to pull away from Mid-Atlantic Conference rival Apprentice School, 201.5-164, and clinch their third NCWA Grand Nationals trophy in five years.
"It was the most amazing championship round I've ever seen," Liberty Assistant Coach Chris Williamson said. "Teams rarely put five wrestlers in the finals and it's even rarer to win all five. Every single match was very tightly contested and very hard fought. It was unbelievable."
The decisive team triumph comes on the heels of last season's dramatic half-point win over the Builders and Liberty's fourth NCWA National Duals title, Jan. 25-26 in Mesquite, Nev., where the Flames rallied from behind to beat Apprentice to become the first program to win that event in back-to-back years.
"Last year, we had to wait until the final match to know who was going to win," Williamson said. "This year, it wasn't even close. We just had too much firepower."
|Cendall Manley won her third 170-pound national title.|
Meanwhile, in the women's bracket, Lady Flames 170-pound junior Cendall Manley won her third national championship after her older sister, 143-pound graduate student Charisse Manley, claimed her first. The two top-seeded sisters led Liberty to a fourth-place team showing with 34 points, just two points behind Springfield Technical Community College (36) as Grays Harbor (65.5) edged Schreiner (63) for first place.
After winning her quarterfinal and semifinal matches by first-minute falls, Cendall Manley faced her toughest challenge in the final against North Texas' third-seeded Genesis Simpson, needing 4 minutes, 48 seconds before prevailing by pin. Charisse Manley took just 1:07 to deck Richland College's third-seeded Christina Ellis in her final bout.
|Charisse Manley, a first-year grad student, won at 143.|
"Cendall and Risse Manley were dominant," Williamson said. "It wasn't even close."
Liberty's five champions in the men's team competition was three more than it had ever won before, though it had twice had five finalists. Flames senior heavyweight Dominick Johnson became a three-time All-American and captured his first national championship by scoring an 8-4 decision over Jesse Gaudin of third-place Central Florida (129.5 points).
Sophomore 235-pounder Jeffrey Allen won his first national title on his first try, with an 11-3 major decision over Tampa's William Farparan.
|Senior Austin Amos, the 235-pound national champion last year, won his MAC final rematch over Apprentice's defending 197-pound champion Ross Graham.|
At 197, Flames senior Austin Amos, Liberty's only individual champion last season at 235 pounds, met Apprentice's defending 197-pound champion Ross Graham in the last match of the night, a rematch of their first encounter in the MAC Tournament final, won by Graham. After opening a 2-1 lead in the first period, Amos scored a reversal and added two back points in the second to extend it to 6-2 before riding out a 10-5 triumph.
Liberty junior Sam Karel, an All-American last season seeded third at 174 pounds, edged Toledo's fourth-seeded Major Moore, 4-3, for his first championship.
Likewise, Andrew Burgette — a Flames junior returning All-American seeded third at 157 — won his MAC Tournament championship rematch against Apprentice's fourth-seeded Chad Simmons by 7-5 decision in the final.
At 149 pounds, Liberty sophomore Chad Cantrell scored a 16-10 decision over Apprentice's Tristan Mabe in the consolation semifinals before pinning Florida's Tyler Sage 5:44 into his third-place final.
Junior Luke Ely won his 165-pound consolation semifinal match over Farmingdale State's Stephen Illicete by 15-0 technical fall in 5:11 before letting a 3-1 lead slip away in a 4-3 loss to UCF's Clay Perry in the third-place final.
After dropping an 8-2 decision to Mott Community College's Chase Bates in the consolation quarterfinals, Flames 141-pound freshman Charles Hudson won his seventh-place match against Mott's Aaron Ward by forfeit.
|Dominick Johnson, a three-time All-American, celebrates his first national title with Head Coach Jesse Castro.|
Liberty graduate David Smith earned All-America honors at 235 pounds by bouncing back from a 7-5 loss to Apprentice's John Pierce in the consolation quarterfinals to defeat Rowan's Michael Mascioli in the seventh-place bout.
At 174 pounds, senior Cody Richmond bounced back from dropping a 14-2 major decision to Florida Gulf Coast's Vincent Levin in the consolation quarterfinals to win his seventh-place match by 10-5 decision over Akron's Brice Locklear.
Flames senior co-captain Josh McIlhenny, seeded second at 184 pounds, defeated JMU's Ryan Thomas, 8-5, in the consolation quarterfinals before being pinned by Middle Tennessee State's Joshua Feuerbacher in 48 seconds in the semifinal round. That set up a fifth-place final against Iowa State's 12th-seeded Cullin Brendeland, who he required just 26 seconds to pin.
Complete results are available online.