Flames wrestlers dominate pool, prep for NCWA National Duals finals on Saturday
Liberty University’s top-seeded, four-time-defending NCWA National Duals championship wrestling team got out to a dominant start in Friday’s matches in its pool, slamming No. 5 seed Grand Valley State, 40-14, in the morning opener and No. 7 Central Florida, 55-3, in the afternoon match before taking down No. 3 Toledo, 41-9, in the evening clash at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.
The Flames got pins from senior Charles Hudson at 149 pounds, sophomore Gabe Hayes at 184, and senior Seth Ellsmore at 235, and technical falls from seniors David Over at 165 and Rick Weaver at heavyweight to sink the Lakers. Ellsmore, who played football at NCAA Division II Alderson-Broaddus (W.Va.) the last three seasons, was a VHSL Class 6A wrestling state champion at Woodbridge High School in 2019.
Against UCF, Liberty landed five falls — by junior Grant Brammer at 141 pounds, senior Ian McIlhenny at 157, freshman Jackson Wakeland at 184, senior Jeff Alley at 235, and Weaver — to go along with two tech falls and two forfeits. Then it recorded pins by freshman Zach Kaminski at 174, Hayes, and graduate Josiah Murphy at 197, as well as two tech falls (one by Weaver by a 29-14 count), and one forfeit against the Rockets to wrap up the day of pool competition at 3-0.
Complete results are available online.
The Flames advance to Saturday’s championship quarterfinals with a 9 a.m. showdown with Emory & Henry (Va.) College, the No. 8 seeded team that is transitioning to the NCAA Division II ranks next season. With a win, they would face the winner of Grand Valley State and No. 4 Apprentice School in the 11 a.m. semifinals with the championship set for 3 p.m.
“We had a good day, winning our pool, but will have a challenging day (Saturday) as (No. 2-seeded) Bellarmine, which is transitioning to NCAA (Division I), was dominant in its pool as well,” Liberty Head Coach Jesse Castro said.
Bellarmine, which has the home-mat advantage being from Louisville, dominated No. 6 Queens of Charlotte (N.C.), 42-9, Emory & Henry, 58-6, and Apprentice, 46-6.
Liberty 40, Grand Valley State 14
125: Dante Minnino (L) by forfeit; 133: Blake Schmitt (L) d. Logan Klinge, 8-2; 141: Dylam Lorincz (GV) d. Grant Brammer, 8-3; 149: Charles Hudson (L) p. Caden Jacobs, 4:53; 157: Ian McIlhenny (L) d. Gustavo De Lima, 5-1; 165: David Over (L) t.f. Trevor Dusty, 18-1; 174: Josh Kenny (GV) t.f. Syler Weber, 16-1; 184: Gabriel Hayes (L) p. Elijah Brown, 2:55; 197: Seth Konynenbelt (GV) p. Sean Gillespie, 6:35; 235: Seth Ellsmore (L) p. Zachary Foote, 2:49; 285: Rick Weaver (L) t.f. Brett Boudreau, 17-0.
Liberty 55, Central Florida 3
125: Minnino (L), by forfeit; 133: Schmitt (L), by forfeit; 141: Brammer (L) p. Alex De Almeida, 2:12; 149: Josiah Foss (L) t.f. Dominick Accosta, 18-0; 157: Dominick Carter (UCF) d. Chad Cantrell, 4-3; 165: Ian McIlhenny (L) p. James Latimer, 1:36; 174: Zachary Kaminski (L) t.f. Antonio Bundy, 18-0; 184: Jackson Wakeland (L) over Chase Dye (Central Florida) Fall 0:55; 197: Josiah Murphy (L) d. Zion James, 2-0; 235: Jefferey Allen (L) p. Stephen Levine, 1:02; 285: Weaver (L) p. Michael Morales, 1:17.
Liberty 41, Toledo 9
125: Minnino (L) t.f. Rylee Hanefeld, 21-4; 133: Kaden Blair (T) d. Schmitt, 2-0; 141: Brammer (L), by forfeit; 149: Zach Blevins (T) d. Hudson, 7-1; 157: Cantrell (L) d. Ezekiel Burkholder, 7-4; 165: Zachery Snyder (T) d. Over, 11-5; 174: Kaminski (L) p. Camren Foster, 2:22; 184: Hayes (L) p. Antwain Williams, 4:16; 197: Murphy (L) p. Andrew Oster, 2:22; 235: Allen (L) m.d. Jacob Meek, 14-2; 285: Weaver (L) t.f. Denver Haynes, 29-14.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer