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Liberty rallies to overtake Lindenwood-St. Charles for NCWA Duals title



Liberty athletes lift the championship trophy after claiming NCWA Duals title. Jason Heartsfield photo.

DALTON, Ga. – Liberty University took advantage of a forfeit late in its championship match and converted wins in the final three bouts into a national title as it topped Lindenwood-St. Charles, 25-15, to clinch the NCWA National Duals in its first year of eligibility.

The teams jockeyed through four lead changes in the first seven matches before Lindenwood’s forfeit and six-point gift at 184 pounds gave Liberty the lead for good at 16-15. It also allowed Liberty to bump its 197-pounder, Nick Knowles, to 235 to take on Lindenwood’s Spencer Daniels. Aaron Thompson of Liberty set up what would become the decisive match with a close 3-2 win at 197, then Knowles beat Daniels 7-2 to clinch the title for Liberty.

Liberty’s Andrew Wilson won the heavyweight match 4-2 for the final 25-15 count.

Lindenwood-St. Charles, undefeated in its other matches, had to forfeit the 184 class throughout the two-day tournament due to injury.

“We had scouted them and saw that they had been giving up that weight,” said Liberty coach Jesse Castro. “We felt it was our best bet tactically.”

Liberty won seven of the 11 matches in the final, held at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center.

Liberty, the top seed in the tournament, had been an NCAA Division I program before the school discontinued the scholarship program last year. The NCWA provided a home for the Flames’ program and allowed them to keep their program alive and its wrestlers on campus.

The Flames withstood a stiff challenge from Maryland-Baltimore County in the semifinals, taking a 25-21 win.

“My hat’s off to the UMBC team,” Castro said. “They made us compete with everything we were worth, and we did not anticipate that. It’s a testament to this association, and the vision the NCWA has is real encouraging and inspiring.”

It was the first NCWA competition of the season for Lindenwood-St. Charles, which was seeded No. 2. LSC is a former NAIA program competing within the NCWA during its transition seasons toward future NCAA Division II membership. Prior to the final the Lions stormed past the rest of the competition, with its closest match being a 29-point win over Grand Valley State (Mich.) in the semifinals.

LSC’s Blayne Shockley opened the championship match with a 16-0 technical fall over Liberty’s Jeremy Beale. The Flames’ Scott Clymer responded two bouts later with a 9-0 major decision over Jacob Janes that put Liberty back in front, 7-5. But LSC’s Craig Chiles topped Peter Crawford, 3-0, to put the Lions back in the lead at 8-7 four matches in. There were no pins in the match.

“I was impressed with the level of competition here,” said LSC coach Chad Smith. “We knew we were going to have to give up that weight due to injury, so it was up to the rest of them to pick up the scoring. I couldn’t be prouder of how our guys wrestled here.”

UMBC, seeded fifth, jumped ahead of Grand Valley State with a fall and a major decision in the first three matches, and beat the Lakers 31-10 in the third-place match. Kriss Dutt opened the match with a fall in 1:49 at 125 pounds, and Brian Samuels topped MattMorrill 8-0 at 141 for a 13-0 lead that wouldn’t be challenged.

Lindenwood-Belleville edged The Apprentice School 27-22 for fifth place. Lindenwood-Belleville is also in its first year of NCWA membership. The teams scored back-and-forth victories early on before Lindenwood-Belleville stretched its lead to 21-10 in the middle weights. But it took a 5-2 decision at heavyweight by Jacob Gregg to seal the win.

In the inaugural high school division, Alabama’s top-ranked team, Thompson, swept two duals from Bradley Central (Tenn.) and Grissom (Ala.). Thompson and Grissom are 1-2 in the most recent Alabama state poll. Grissom topped Bradley Central 42-21 in the other dual in the round-robin format.

The multi-state high school division served as a springboard toward a vision of having an NCWA-sponsored high school national duals tournament in the future in which every state would send a duals champion to the event.

Liberty and Lindenwood-St. Charles are among the favorites at the 2012 NCWA Championships, set for March 8-10 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Off the mat, the NCWA assisted the Dalton community with its 6:12 Project, in which the association’s wrestlers perform service projects in the cities that host its championship events. NCWA wrestlers and staff served meals at Dalton’s City of Refuge homeless shelter on Friday, and conducted a canned food drive on Saturday that brought in more than $1,000 worth of food for the shelter.

“The community involvement of the NCWA was something new to us,” Smith said. “It’s impressive, and they did a great job of drumming up community support for this event.”

FINAL RESULTS
(Jan. 28 at Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center)


Championship Match results
Liberty 25, Lindenwood-St. Charles 15
125 – Blayne Shockley, LSC, def. Jeremy Beale, tech fall 16-0
133 – Ryan Miller, Liberty, def. Michael Caldwell, 14-13
141 – Scott Clymer, Liberty, def. Jacob Janes, major dec. 9-0
149 – Craig Childes, LSC, def. Peter Crawford, 2-0
157 – Chase Boontjer, Liberty, def. Cullen Halpin, 2-11
165 – Daniel Breit, LSC, def. Mark Busse, major dec. 10-1
174 – Clayton McFarlane, LSC, def. Keshaun Ward, 5-0
184 – Royal Brettrager, Liberty, wins by forfeit
197 – Aaron Thompson, Liberty, def. Jed Mamie, 1-0
235 – Nick Knowles, Liberty, def. Spencer Daniels, 7-2
285 – Andrew Wilson, Liberty, def. Austin Garza, 1-0

Finals Matches
Championship - Liberty 25, Lindenwood-St. Charles 15
3rd place - UMBC 31, Grand Valley State 10
5th place - Lindenwood-Belleville 27, Apprentice 22
7th place - Mercer 1, Middle Tennessee State 0 (forfeit)
9th place - Marion Military 51, North Florida 6
11th place - Central Florida 44, Georgia Southern 9
13th place – Wichita State 38, East Tennessee State 24
15th place – Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. 1, Southern Virginia 0 (forfeit)
17th place - Carroll 33, Auburn 14
19th place - Georgia 25, Cincinnati 15
21st place - Tennessee 39, Connecticut 3
23rd place - Bowling Green 27, Toledo 24

Semifinals
Liberty 25, Md.-Baltimore County 21
Lindenwood-St. Charles 41, Grand Valley State 12

Quarterfinals
Liberty 43, Mercer 10
Md.-Baltimore County 22, Apprentice 21
Grand Valley State 24, Lindenwood-Belleville 23
Lindenwood-St. Charles 57, Middle Tennessee State 6

Round of 16
Liberty 39, Southern Virginia 18
Mercer 29, Marion Military 16
Md.-Baltimore County 56, East Tennessee State 3
Apprentice 27, Central Florida 16
Lindenwood-Belleville 47, Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. 17
Grand Valley State 44, North Florida 6
Middle Tennessee State 32, Georgia Southern 25
Lindenwood-St. Charles 47, Wichita State 14

Consolation First Rounds
(for 5th place)
Apprentice 26, Mercer 19
Lindenwood-Belleville 34, Middle Tennessee State 15
(for 9th place)
Marion Military 51, Southern Virginia 3
Central Florida 51, East Tennessee State 4
North Florida 31, Mass. Inst. of Tech. 24
Georgia Southern 28, Wichita State 27
(for 17th place)
Carroll 47, Tennessee 18
Georgia 45, Bowling Green 6
Auburn 36, Toledo 10
Cincinnati 29, Connecticut 5

Consolation Second Rounds
(for 9th place)
Marion Military 28, Central Florida 24
North Florida 30, Georgia Southern 20
(for 17th place)
Carroll 38, Georgia 7
Auburn 31, Cincinnati 21
(for 21st place)
Tennessee 33, Bowling Green 24
Connecticut 19, Toledo 18

Consolation Third Round
(for 13th place)
East Tennessee State 42, Southern Virginia 16
Wichita State 22, Mass. Inst. of Tech. 15

HIGH SCHOOL DIVISION
(round-robin format)
Grissom (Ala.) 42, Bradley Central (Tenn.) 21
Thompson (Ala.) 56, Bradley Central (Tenn.) 15
Thompson (Ala.) 1, Grissom (Ala.) 0 (forfeit)

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