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    January 4, 2023 Louisville, Ky. RSS |

    Liberty University’s four-time-defending NCWA National Duals tournament champion men’s wrestling team is seeded No. 1 out of eight teams in the field for this Friday’s and Saturday’s event hosted by the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.

    The tournament is being held for the first time in conjunction with the multi-divisional National Duals, with separate brackets for NCAA Division II men, NCAA Division III men, NCAA women, NAIA men, and NAIA women. A complete list of teams is available on the NCWA.net website.

    The seedings for the tournament were determined partly by ranking procedures and partly by a coaches’ vote from the participating programs. Liberty was seeded first ahead of No. 2 Bellarmine University, based in Louisville, which is transitioning to the NCAA Division I ranks next season. The University of Toledo is ranked third ahead of No. 4 the Apprentice School (Va.), which is Liberty’s top rival in the Mid-Atlantic Conference, No. 5 Grand Valley State (Mich.) University, No. 6 Queens (N.C.) University of Charlotte, No. 7 University of Central Florida, and No. 8 Emory & Henry (Va.) College, which is transitioning to NCAA DII next season.

    The Flames will compete in the same pool as Grand Valley State, UCF, and Toledo in Friday’s pool competition with matches set for 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. Teams will be reseeded for Saturday’s 9 a.m. quarterfinals based on their records within their pools with semifinal and championship matches to follow at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.

    Flames freshman 184-pound wrestler Jackson Wakeland competes in Florida.

    This weekend’s tournament could be the toughest in recent years with the top six nationally ranked teams represented along with No. 9 UCF and No. 20 Emory & Henry, a total of 26 returning NCWA All-Americans including eight national champions, and 22 of a possible 33 wrestlers ranked in the top three at their respective weight classes. Liberty remained at No. 1 in the NCWA national rankings released on Christmas Day, with senior defending NCWA Grand National individual champions Dante Minnino (125 pounds), Ian McIlhenny (157), Josiah Murphy (197), Jeff Allen (235), and Rick Weaver (285) all ranked No. 1 at their respective weight classes.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer