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Liberty Wrestling Ranked No. 1 in East Region
In its latest listings, Division I College Wrestling (D1CW) ranks Liberty No. 1 amongst the five East Region teams which will battle in the NCAA East Regional Championships on Sunday. Gardner-Webb follows in second place, while Sacred Heart, Millersville and Campbell round out the five-team field.
Each program will try to send individuals to the NCAA Championships by winning their respective weight classes at the East Regionals on Sunday, while also gunning for the team title. Liberty has had a stronghold on the title since its reinstatement, claiming the championship each of its four years competing.
The Flames have sent 20 grapplers to the national tournament in the past four years, with only 23 Division I teams sending more in the same time span.
Aside from the team rankings, D1CW.com also has ranked the top-three grapplers of each weight class. Five active Liberty wrestlers are favored to win individual titles, as they hold down the No. 1 spot of their weight class. Redshirt seniors Chad Porter (165), Aaron Kelley (184) and Josh Pelletier (HWT) are ranked No. 1, while junior T. J. Mitchell (133) and freshman Joel Stafford (125) also have the No. 1 nod.
Gardner-Webb holds the second most No. 1 rankings with three grapplers being placed in the top position of their weight class.
Liberty has Seth Hicks (141), Royal Brettrager II (174) and Aaron Thompson (197) placed at No. 2 in the Feb. 24 rankings, while Julian Colon (157) is No. 3 in what may be one of the most competitive weight classes.
Chad Porter also holds a ranking from the NCAA's final Division I Coaches Panel Ranking, from Feb. 22. The Parkersburg, W. Va., native is No. 30 in the ranking which is used as a tool for part of the NCAA selection process. Porter has won the 165-pound title each of his three times competing in the NCAA East Regional Championship.
As part of its lead-in coverage for the 2011 NCAA East Regional Championship, LibertyFlames.com will run a wrestling-related feature story each day, helping prepare readers for Sunday's national qualifying event. Be sure to check back each day for the latest wrestling story at LibertyFlames.com.