Flames wrestlers dominate S.C. duals tournament featuring NCAA Division II field
Wrestling five duals in one day only made Liberty University’s men’s wrestling team stronger by the match, Saturday at the Carolina Clash, hosted by Lander University in Greenwood, S.C.
The Flames, who will host the NCWA National Duals on Jan. 21-22 in search of their sixth title, finished 5-0 in their only dual meet competition of the fall semester, winning all of their matches decisively against an NCAA Division II field of teams.
“Congratulations to the Flames wrestling team as they start their dual meet season,” Liberty Head Coach Jesse Castro said. “After coming off several (open) tournament competitions in November, they made a very strong entrance into the dual season with a statement, going 5-0 as they prepare for their semester finals and the (Dec. 29-30) Citrus Classic in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.”
Liberty brought 20 wrestlers to Saturday’s duals tournament, enough for two in each of the 10 weight classes. The Flames dominated Allen (S.C.) University, 36-15, Mt. Olive (N.C.) University, 33-10, Bluefield (Va.) State, 41-7, Emmanuel (Ga.) College, 33-5, and host Lander’s B team, 36-12.
That match was capped by freshman 174-pounder Theo Sewell decking Daniel Kitts in 2 minutes, 33 seconds and junior heavyweight Rick Weaver pinning Scottie Dean in 1:55. Junior Charles Hudson and senior Ethan Martin also won 10-7 and 8-2 decisions at 157 and 165, respectively, and the Flames picked up three wins by forfeit.
Against Emmanuel, Flames 125-pound senior Dante Minnino started the onslaught with a 5-3 decision over Gavin Hayes before graduate Logan Robinson won his 133-pound bout over Anthony Cruz by 9-0 major decision and sophomore Garrett Good doubled up Allen Stone, 4-2, but had one point for the decision deducted due to unsportsmanlike conduct. At 149, sophomore Brandon Ahlemann pinned Tyler Snowden in 3:51 for a 15-0 Flames advantage.
The Lions won back-to-back decisions at 157 and 165 before Liberty closed out the match with four consecutive wins — pins by Sewell over Connor Smith in 2:13 and Weaver over Ben Foskey in 1:32 and decisions by seniors Blake Barrick over Micah Clemson (7-5 at 184) and Josiah Murphy over Markis Hill (5-3 at 197).
In the match against Allen, Minnino won his 125-pound match by 7-3 decision over Reco Robinson before Robertson needed only 18 seconds to pin Nyshadd Hannon at 130. Good doubled up Drevon Wallace, 6-3 at 141, before Hudson defeated Ya’Dannis Hardaway by fall in 1:21 at 149. Flames 157-pound junior Ian McIlhenny and 165-pound sophomore Connor McCann dropped decisions before Sewell decked Moise Toissant in 25 seconds and Barrick leveled Christian Poplous in 2:46 to cap the Flames’ scoring.
Liberty opened a 16-0 lead on Mt. Olive after back-to-back technical falls by Minnino (21-5 over Lens Mathurin) and Robertson (15-0 over Jeremy Mahoney) and decisions by Good (6-1 over Isaiah Olive) and Ahlemann (6-5 over Dylan Wilman). McIlhenny lost to Jake Nicolosi by late third-period fall in 6:38 at 157 before Flames junior David Over returned the favor to Dimitri Naimi in 2:48 at 165.
Sewell lost by 13-3 major decision to Colby Teague before the Flames finished with a flurry of decisions, including majors by Barrick over Isaiah Manning (10-2 at 184) and Murphy over Slade Watkins (15-2 at 197), and a 7-0 minor by senior heavyweight Jeff Allen over Jayln McClammy.
Minnino and Martin won their matches by forfeit against Bluefield State with Robertson and Hudson sandwiching technical falls over Gabe Nesmith (20-2 at 141) and DeShawn Cosby (18-2 at 149) around Good’s 5-1 setback to Caleb Fritz at 141.
Flames sophomore Grant Brammer won a 13-2 major decision over Davieyon King-McAllister at 157 before Justin Fritz scored a 15-1 major decision over Sewell at 174. Liberty closed out the match with falls by Barrick in 1:42 over Roger Arocha at 184 and Allen in 1:30 over Brian Shaw at heavyweight and a 7-0 decision by senior Sean Gillespie over Greg Dennard at 197.
Complete results are available online.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer