Men’s wrestlers roll to fourth NCWA National Duals title in a row, sixth overall, in dominating fashion
Liberty University’s top-ranked men’s wrestling team captured its record fourth consecutive NCWA National Duals championship and sixth in its 11 seasons in the league with overpowering showings both Friday and Saturday at the LaHaye Ice Center (LIC).
“We had a dominating performance,” said Flames 197-pound senior Josiah Murphy, who was one of seven Liberty wrestlers (out of 11 weight classes) to finish 4-0 individually.
The others were 133-pound graduate Logan Robertson, 141-pound sophomore Garrett Good, 149-pound junior Brandon Ahlemann — the only one to win all four by fall — 165-pound junior David Over, 235-pound senior Jeff Allen, and junior heavyweight Rick Weaver, who racked up three pins and a technical fall.
It was the fourth time Liberty has hosted the NCWA National Duals with the LIC converted into a wrestling arena with an insulated cover placed over the ice. The Flames won the tournament at home for the third time after also claiming titles twice in Georgia in 2012 and 2015 and once in Las Vegas in 2019.
On Friday, the Flames opened the tournament by winning their three-team pool in convincing fashion, pummeling Central Florida 47-3 and No. 4 Grays Harbor (Wash.) 50-12, on the strength of six wins by pin. Then, in Saturday morning’s semifinal, Liberty faced its toughest opposition of the tournament, overcoming No. 3 Grand Valley (Mich.) State, 32-17, with four more falls, before rolling over second-ranked Apprentice School from Newport News, Va., 39-7 in the championship final.
“We’re thankful, that the Lord blessed us like He has, and that we’re injury-free and COVID-free,” said Flames Head Coach Jesse Castro, who watched last weekend’s Virginia Duals from home in quarantine. “We didn’t wrestle all that well (on Friday). We started getting better as the tournament progressed, and it culminated in the final. That’s the best we’ve wrestled all weekend. I wanted to put an exclamation mark on it.”
“We wrestled the best out of any of the duals in that last match,” added Murphy, who pinned the Builders’ Caleb Hartung in 2 minutes, 29 seconds. “I rolled him from a front headlock, but it was a fight, a dogfight. They wrestled really well. They fought with heart. We just really rose to the occasion.”
“I’m proud of my guys. We wrestled really well,” added 125-pound senior Dante Minnino. “Everybody was always looking for points, always looking to score. We just went into every match ready to go. Our team works really hard every day. Everybody grinds and we’re ready to compete whenever. We’ve got to be able to roll with the punches and put our best foot forward (against) anybody that’s in front of us. We’re ready to go. We’re starting to get to that point in the year where everyone’s starting to scratch for the (NCWA Grand) Nationals at the end of the year.”
In the semifinal match against Grand Valley State, after Minnino withdrew with a medical forfeit, Robertson scored a 5-2 decision over Cody Castelline at 133 pounds and Good pinned Andrew Kakoos in 4:06 at 141.
“We matched up well with (Grand Valley State),” Castro said. “We feel that we took the wind out of their sails early on. They expected to win those first three matches in a row, if not dominate them. So once that didn’t materialize, the momentum shift was just too much for them.”
Ahlemann, Over, and Weaver helped clinched the team’s berth into the championship final by recording first-period falls — in 2:01 over Gustavo De Lima, 2:09 over Austin Holbrook, and 1:02 over Zac Foote, respectively.
On Feb. 5, Liberty will travel to the Messiah Open in Grantham, Pa., before competing in meets in West Virginia and South Carolina on Feb. 11 and 13. The Flames will then host the Feb. 26 Mid-Atlantic Conference Championships, looking to win the team title for the 10th consecutive time and qualify as many wrestlers as possible for the March 10-12 NCWA Grand Nationals in Allen, Texas. There, as it did in the NCWA National Duals this weekend, Liberty will contend for its record fourth consecutive NCWA Grand Nationals team trophy.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media
NCWA National Duals results
Liberty 33, Grand Valley State 17
125 – Michael Merritt (GV) d. Dante Mininno (L), medical forfeit
133 – Logan Robertson (L) d. Cody Castelline (GV), 5-2
141 – Garrett Good (L) p. Andrew Kakoos (GV), 4:06
149 – Brandon Ahlemann (L) p Gustavo De Lima (GV), 2:01
157 – Trevor Dusty (GV) t.f. Cole Waddy (L), 16-0
165 – David Over (L) p. Austin Holbrook (GV), 2:09
174 – Seth Dominguez (GV) d. Ethan Martin (L), 5-2
184 – Seth Konynenbelt (GV) d. Blake Barrick (L), 2-0
197 – Josiah Murphy (L) d. Joseph Posledni (GV), 5-4
235 – Jeffrey Allen (L) d. Kurtis Smith (GV), 9-6
285 – Rick Weaver (L) p. Zac Foote (GV), 1:02
Liberty 39, Apprentice School 7
125 – Bruno Alves (AS) d. Jaylen Fyffe (L), 12-5
133 – Logan Robertson (L) d. Dillon Messick (AS), 15-8
141 – Garrett Good (L) d. Raekwon Jackson (AS), 9-4
149 – Brandon Ahlemann (L) p. Zachary Ortega (AS), 1:47
157 – Jordan Robins (AS) m.d. Cole Waddy (L), 11-1
165 – David Over (L) m.d. AJ Deutel (AS),16-3
174 – Eddy DeAngelis (L) d. Matthew Henson (AS), 8-5
184 – Blake Barrick (L) t.f. Robin Edens (AS), 15-0
197 – Josiah Murphy (L) p. Caleb Hartung (AS), 2:29
235 – Jeffrey Allen (L) d. John Pierce (AS), 6-0
285 – Rick Weaver (L) p. Peter Cortapasso (AS), 1:41
Friday’s Pool A results
Liberty 47, Central Florida 3
125 – Dante Mininno (L) d. Unknown (Unattached), by forfeit
133 – Logan Robertson (L) m.d. Nicolas Clay (CF), 14-5
141 – Garrett Good (L) d. Dominick Carter (CF), 9-3
149 – Brandon Ahlemann (L) p. Dominick Acosta (CF), 2:36
157 – Cole Waddy (L) d. Nicolas Alvarez (CF), 4-2
165 – David Over (L) p. Charley Roche (CF), 4:57
174 – Agustin Ameigeiras (CF) d. Eddy DeAngelis (L), 2-0
184 – Blake Barrick (L) d. Zion James (CF), 4-0
197 – Josiah Murphy (L) t.f. Jason Rehburg (CF), 19-3
235 – Jeffrey Allen (L) p. Aaron Sacca (CF), 0:38
285 – Rick Weaver (L) t.f. Michael Morales (CF), 19-0
Liberty 50, Grays Harbor 12
125: Dante Mininno (L) p. Donnie Krissak (GH), 6:40
133 – Logan Robertson (L), by forfeit
141 – Garrett Good (L) p. Austin Cleland (GH), 2:50
149 – Brandon Ahlemann (L) p. Elijah Gandert (GH), 5:37
157 – Colton Duncan (GH) p. Cole Waddy (L), 6:26
165 – David Over (L) p. Karter Kares (GH), 3:39
174 – Ryan Cummings (GH) p. Theo Sewell (L), 1:39
184 – Blake Barrick (L) m.d. Desmond Bowers (GH), 12-2
197 – Josiah Murphy (L) m.d. Lucas Ashley (GH), 15-6
235 – Jeffrey Allen (L) p. Slone Halo (GH), 1:35
285 – Rick Weaver (L) p. Octavio Alejandro (GH), 5:43