Flames wrestlers make history with fourth NCWA Grand National trophy in a row, 7 individual champions
Liberty University’s men’s wrestling team became the first program to win four consecutive NCWA Grand National Tournament Championships, eclipsing Grand Valley State — which won three straight from 2006-08 — Saturday at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas. The Flames also tied the Lakers with their fifth total team titles after claiming their first in 2015.
Liberty had eight finalists and seven individual championships, breaking the record of five it set in 2019 and 2020. The Flames set a program record with 12 All-Americans and amassed 229 points, barely surpassing their previous high mark (228) from 2020 and falling short of Grand Canyon’s 254.5 record total in 2014. They nearly doubled Apprentice School (133.5), which also finished runner-up at last month’s MAC Championships at Liberty, which the Flames won for the 10th consecutive time.
Grays Harbor placed third with 127 points, followed by club teams from NCAA Division I powerhouses Penn State (106) and Ohio State (96), Springfield Tech (85.5), Grand Valley State (83.5), Texas A&M (78), UNLV (78), and MAC rivals Florida (71) and Central Florida (69.5).
Liberty 235-pound senior Jeff Allen tied former teammate Austin Amos (’20) with his third national title in a row after his 2-0 decision over Apprentice School’s John Pierce in the final. Allen plans to return for another season of eligibility as a graduate student, when he will go for a school and NCWA record fourth crown.
Saturday’s championship finals started with the 184-pound weight class, where Liberty senior Blake Barrick scored a 7-3 decision over Grand Valley State’s Seth Konynenbelt for the Flames’ first individual title. Josiah Murphy then won his 197-pound championship bout over Grays Harbor’s Sione Halo, 3-1, while fellow senior Jesse Redding scored a 9-4 decision in his seventh-place bout against Springfield Tech’s Stephano Magny.
Flames junior heavyweight Rick Weaver, the only member of the team besides Allen with championship final experience, claimed his first national title with a 5-0 decision over Apprentice’s Peter Cortapasso.
Then at 125 pounds, Flames second-seeded senior Dante Minnino avenged a narrow loss to Apprentice’s No. 1-seeded Bruno Alves by erasing a 5-1 deficit to win, 10-6, for Liberty’s fifth consecutive championship triumph.
At 133, graduate Logan Robertson, seeded second, shut out Iowa State’s fourth-seeded Zachary Foote, 2-0, for the Flames’ record-setting sixth national titlist.
Eighth-seeded junior Ian McIlhenny delivered the seventh consecutive championship with an 8-4 decision in his showdown with Florida’s No. 7-seeded Hayden McCandless.
Finally at 164, Liberty top-seeded junior David Over, the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the MAC Championships, was outdueled by Macomb Community College’s No. 2-seeded Antonio Tranchida, 11-7.
Garrett Good, seeded first at 141, pinned Grays Harbor’s Saul Rocha in 1 minute, 58 seconds, to finish fifth while fellow Flames sophomores Jalen Fyffe (125), Good’s former teammate at nearby Brookville High School, came in sixth after being seeded 13th. At 149, junior Charlie Hudson finished eighth to round out the Flames’ 12 All Americans.
Complete results are available online.
In the women’s bracket, Lady Flames sophomore Maile Ka’ahanui won her consolation final match by fall over Big Bend’s Samantha Meyer in 5:49 before senior Rebekah Kemper was pinned by Grays Harbor’s Renaeh Ureste in 37 seconds.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video edited by Kylee Lilge/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant