Flames wrestlers matched, set precedents in stellar season
Liberty University's men's wrestling team matched its unprecedented third consecutive NCWA National Duals championship, Jan. 24-25 at the LaHaye Ice Center, by winning its third straight NCWA Grand National tournament title March 12-14 in Allen, Texas, capping its 2019-20 season in grand fashion.
After winning their fifth National Duals title in nine years of NCWA competition, the Flames captured their fourth NCWA Grand Nationals trophy in six seasons, with many saving their best performances for last.
"The third day of the NCWA tournament, what a great day, what a great precedent that this team set with eight finalists and five national champions," Liberty Head Coach Jesse Castro said. "What I'm most thrilled about is the fact that a lot of seniors went out on top. Some won a national championship, some were all-Americans, and even some who didn't place still went out on top because this was a team effort, winning this third national championship in a row, and they were a part of it. Their leadership was huge to us."
Juniors Chad Cantrell (157), Joe Scott (165), and Jeff Allen (235) and seniors Sam Karel (184) and Austin Amos (197) claimed individual national crowns, matching the team's total from 2019, when all five Flames wrestlers in the finals won.
"The day was full of ups and downs, as expected, but by and large, the momentum was so great that it was like a tidal wave how these guys performed," Castro said. "They were ready. They worked all season long and this was the culmination of that hard work."
"It's great as a senior to go out with a third national title, but it's even better to go out with a third national team title," added Amos, who finished his career with a 118-17 record. "You can win as many individual national titles as you want, but the team title is the ultimate goal."