Blue Raiders Place 2nd at Alumni Duals to former NCAA D-1 Liberty
The MT Wrestling team hosted 4 collegiate teams as well as 4 high school teams (Beech, Blackman, Father Ryan, and Rossview) on Saturday, November 5th at Smyrna H.S. The four high schools competed in exhibition duals as the date is considered part of the preseason in Tennessee. All of the schools had connections to MTSU, either past or present with coaching alumni at Father Ryan and Beech and graduates on the MTSU roster from Beech, Blackman, and Rossview. The college event started with a spirited dual between the host Blue Raiders and Spartanburg Methodist College (NJCAA, 2-2). MTSU (2-1, #13 NCWA Coachesí Poll) got off to a 13-0 lead before the Pioneers scored a point with a forfeit at 125, a tough 8-4 decision by Eric Feuerbacher (Fr, 6-2) at 133 over Brandon Stevens, and a major decision by Trey Thigpen (So, 3-0) over Damian Kennerly 12-4 at 141. At 149, MTSU forfeited due to an injured Kyle Chandler who should be back in time for the Campbellsville Duals (NAIA) on 11/19/11 in Campbellsville, KY. Everett Colbert (So, 6-1) got the Blue Raiders back on the winning track with a 18-8 major decision (5 takedowns) over Jonathan Cloud to make the team score 17-6. Senior Captain Nick Appleby (4-2) then added 6 team points with a fall in 2:44 over Jonathan Dykes to make it 23-6. But that is when the Pioneers of SMC made a run with 4 straight wins to end the match. At 174, Jonathan Roberts (Fr, 3-4) lost a decision by riding time to Michael Clevenger 7-6. 184 pounder Rakim Talley (Fr, 4-2) then lost in overtime 10-8 to Mateo Rojas in a hotly contested match that saw Rojas score a reversal in the waning seconds to take it to overtime. The 197 match also went into overtime with Denzel Caldwell (Fr, 2-4) losing 3-1 to a 4x state placer from SC Keyshon Flores. While losing 3 matches straight the Blue Raiders assured themselves of victory with only 1 match remaining by keeping the Pioneers from scoring bonus points. Tyler Bond wrestled at 285 losing by major decision 16-4 to Preston Pickens leaving the final score at 23-19 in MTSUís favor. Michael LaBadie (Fr, 3-3) lost an exhibition match at 184 9-6 to Michael Young.
The second match of the day pitted the MTSU-B squad vs. the Liberty-B team with MTSU coming out victorious. Freshmen Shane Shaffner (2-2), Eric Feuerbacher (bumping to 141), Joseph Melson (1-1), Michael LaBadie, Adam Wells (4-3), and Jonathan Taylor (1-0) all recorded victories in the match. For Melson and Taylor it was their first collegiate wins. Next up for the Blue Raiders was the short-sided squad from Arkansas Baptist (NJCAA, 0-3). With only 4 starters on the travel roster due to injuries, the Buffaloes never had a chance and ultimately lost 52-3 to MTSU. In actual matchups, Trey Thigpen bumped to 149 and defeated Hakeem Howard by pinfall in 1:18, Everett Colbert won by major decision 13-3 recording 4 more takedowns over Darius Cosby, and Tyler Bond lost by decision 3-2 to Aaron Robinson.
The finals of the tournament pitted the host Blue Raiders against the Liberty Flames. Liberty University was reclassified in the offseason after winning 3 NCAA East Regional Championships under Coach Jesse Castro. Liberty (6-0, #5 NCWA Coachesí Poll) beat Spartanburg 33-10 and Arkansas Baptist 51-6. While Liberty would end up defeating MTSU by a wide margin, by closer inspection the match was much closer. At 125, Anthony Patnode got a well-fought decision victory over Jeremy Beale 7-4 to go 3-0 on the day for the Blue Raiders and solidify his spot amongst the top of the NCWA as he is currently ranked #3 in the country in points. The 133 pound contest was a tale of two matches with Ryan Miller of Liberty getting off to a 6-0 lead after the first period over former TN state champ and NCWA Preseason All-American Eric Feuerbacher. Eric then fought back to make the score 8-3 after the second period. Choosing neutral in the third, he then scored a takedown and 2 pt nearfall but came up short losing 8-7. The team score was equal at 3-3. Trey Thigpen earned the lead back for MTSU with a 15-5 major decision over Aaron Beverly. During this match, Trey who is a 2x NCWA Preseason All-American became the all-time leader in takedowns for the modern era (2007-2011) with 84 overall, passing Anthony Pierce (07-09). That means that the career leaders for takedowns, falls, nearfalls, wins, and quickest pin are all currently on the MTSU roster. After a forfeit at 149, Liberty jumped back in the lead 9-7 and would not relinquish it again. Everett Colbert would lose his first match of the season 8-4 against Robert Clymer at 157 making the team score 12-7 Liberty. A quick pin for the Flames by preseason NCWA All-American Gabriel Bird at 165 over Captain Nick Appleby in 2:00 made the team score 18-7. At 174, Jonathan Roberts lost a close 4-3 decision to Keyshawn Ward, which made it 21-7. In order for the Blue Raiders to win this match, they would need 3 victories by fall and a decision loss from the next 4 grapplers, all Freshmen. This seemed possible after Rakim Talley pinned his opponent, Brandon McKee, in 6:19 to close the gap to 21-13. The decision loss came at 197 with Aaron Thompson of Liberty winning 7-2 over Denzel Caldwell. At 235, Adam Wells fought hard but lost by major decision 13-5 to Brandon Lawrence earning an assured victory for the Flames. Replacing Tyler Bond at 285 was Senior Miles Taylor bumping up from 235 to face an experienced Andrew Wilson of Liberty. Unfortunately the move didnít pay off with Wilson recording a pinfall in 1:26 ending the match at 34-13 Liberty.
The Blue Raiders next head to Shorter University in Rome, GA for the Roman Open on 11/12/11 at the Winthrop-King Centre. Several MTSU wrestlers have a chance of placing in the 16-man bracket with Anthony Patnode (125), Eric Feuerbacher (133), Everett Colbert (157), and Michael LaBadie (184) getting consideration for seeds.