Wrestling prepares for the upcoming season

Tapout— Liberty wrestling kicked off its season with an intrasquad wrestle off.

With the start of the 2010-11 wrestling season quickly approaching, the Flames wrestling team continued preparation last week with the annual intrasquad wrestle off.

The wrestle off gave the team the opportunity to compete against one another in conditions similar to an actual meet. It also allowed Head Coach Jesse Castro the opportunity to evaluate his squad before the season opening tournament Nov. 6.

The Flames will rely on the experience of redshirt senior Chad Porter (165) and redshirt juniors Julian Colon (157) and Scott Clymer (149) this season. Porter and Colon serve as team captains along with Nick Knowles (174/184), who will be redshirting this season.

“These guys are seasoned.  Two of them have been to the nationals and Julian, although he wasn’t at the nationals, he’s a redshirt junior and competed against the best in the country,” Castro said.

Liberty will certainly need that experience as it chases after its fifth straight NCAA East Regional Title. Porter, who is recovering from an injury and will miss the first month of the season, finished last year with a record of 23-11. Porter will be wrestling in the 165 weight class for the Flames. Colon, who will be competing in the 157 weight class, finished last year with a record of 2-2. Clymer returns after a 20-12 record and will be wrestling at 149.

“I was impressed with the intensity level of our matches tonight, even more so than our matches last year at this time with the wrestle off,” Castro said.

The wrestle off broke the team down into two separate teams that competed against one another. The red team captured the victory of the blue team with a final score of 23-10.

Clymer and Colon each contributed to the blue team by picking up wins. Clymer’s win was over redshirt freshman Miguel Rodriguez by a decision of 4-0. Colon won a major decision against senior Peter Crawford with a 13-1 score.

“We’ve improved a lot on hand fighting.  I’ve improved a significant amount and I feel like I’m seeing more opportunities in my opponent to score and these are all really encouraging things,” Colon said.

The Flames look to continue improving with assistant coach Joe Pantaleo, who is entering into his second season with Liberty. Pantaleo brings a style of wrestling that most of the squad is still adapting to.

“Coach Pantaleo really preaches pushing the whole time, trying to break your opponent,” Porter said. “You might not be the best wrestler but if you go out there and wrestle the entire time and try to break them, you will beat kids you probably should not on paper.”

The Liberty wrestling team officially starts the 2010-11 season on Saturday, Nov. 6 in College Park, Maryland at the Terrapin Duals. Liberty will compete against the University of Maryland, West Virginia, Johns Hopkins and McDaniel. The Flames will compete at home for the first time on Dec. 11 against Campbell.

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