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    January 15, 2023 Hampton, Va. RSS |

    Competing in the Silver bracket of the American College Division at the 42nd annual Virginia Duals, Saturday at the Hampton Coliseum, Liberty University’s men’s wrestling team advanced to the final with a 28-13 triumph over Roanoke College before falling to Averett University in the championship match, 28-15. The final was a rematch of last year’s Virginia Duals championship quarterfinals, also won by the Cougars.

    Against the Maroons, 125-pound senior Dante Minnino, 133-pound freshman Blake Schmitt, and 149-pound senior Charlie Hudson gave the Flames momentum with early decisions. After another by junior Connor McCann at 165, freshman Zachary Kiminski and senior Sean Gillespie won their 174- and 197-pound bouts by technical fall before both teams forfeited at 220 and Liberty senior Jeff Allen — a three-time defending NCWA Grand National champion at 235 pounds — pinned Roanoke’s Joshua Mancia at heavyweight to end the match.

    Senior heavyweight Rick Weaver prepares to pin an opponent at the NCWA National Duals. (Photo by Bobby Leek)

    Liberty opened an early 6-3 lead on Averett with decisions by Schmitt at 133 and junior Grant Brammer at 141. However, the Cougars responded by winning five consecutive matches to seize a commanding 28-6 advantage, clinching the win after 184 pounds. Gillespie’s decision at 197 and senior heavyweight Rick Weaver’s first-period pin over William Longhurst made the final score more respectable, but the Flames still settled for runner-up in the Silver bracket, or sixth place overall, out of 12 teams.

    “It was a great weekend to prepare us for the up-and-coming postseason,” Flames Head Coach Jesse Castro said. “I am so proud of the effort of this team. Our depth is what got us through a very tough field of 12 teams. Injuries plagued us, but our back-up wrestlers rose to the occasion.”

    Glenville (W.Va.) State won the Gold bracket, doubling up Kutztown (Pa.) — which had won Liberty’s pool on Friday — in the championship final, 32-16.

    Complete results are available online.

    Silver bracket semifinal

    Liberty 28, Roanoke College 13

    125: Dante Minnino (L) d. Jude Robson, 4-2; 133: Blake Schmitt (L) d. Corey Messick, 7-3; 141: Nick Kaufmann (R) d. Grant Brammer, 5-3; 149: Charles Hudson (L) d. Nick Young, 4-0; 157: Andrew McDougal (R) p. Ian McIlhenny, 4:41; 165: Connor McCann (L) d. Jacob Cherry, 6-3; 174: Zachary Kaminski (L) t.f. Josh Epperly, 17-0; 184:  Mahlic Sallah (R) m.d. Gabriel Hayes, 10-0; 197: Sean Gillespie (L) t.f. Cam Cavins, 17-2; 220: Double Forfeit; 285: Jefferey Allen (L) p. Joshua Mancia, 4:14.

    Silver bracket final

    Averett 28, Liberty 15

    125: Mason Barrett (A) d. Minnino, 2-1; 133: Schmitt (L) d. Daniel Porter, 7-3; 141: Brammer (L) d. Olli Karjalainen, 4-2; 149: Hai Siu (A) m.d. Hudson, 10-2; 157: Jesse Alvarado (A) p. McIlhenny, 6:39; 165: Anthony Taylor (A) t.f. McCann, 22-7; 174: Alex Turley (A) p. Kaminski,1:37; 184: Khalil Mitchell (A) m.d. Jackson Wakeland,12-3; 197: Gillespie (L) d. Jacob Jimenez, 12-6; 220: Double Forfeit; 285: Rick Weaver (L) p. William Longhurst, 1:47.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer