Liberty Rallies Again, Wins National Duals over Apprentice

January 26, 2019 | By Scott Farrell and Ted Allen

MESQUITE, Nevada – Liberty made history Saturday, rallying for the second time in two weeks to upend old foe Apprentice, 28-18, and win the 2019 NCWA National Duals. The Flames, top-seeded in the 16-team tournament, become the first team to repeat as the National Duals champion since the NCWA began sponsoring it as a championship event in 2009. 

The title was Liberty's fourth NCWA National Duals crown, also a new record, and the Flames pulled it off in nearly as dramatic fashion as they did two weeks prior against their Mid-Atlantic Conference rivals. In Saturday’s championship match, Liberty trailed 15-0 before winning seven of the last eight matches, including a pin. In a consolation semifinal match at the Virginia Duals back on Jan. 12, Liberty rallied from a 24-4 deficit before taking a 26-24 win. 

The duals win here only heightens what has become the NCWA’s best current rivalry. Liberty is also the defending NCWA team champion, having won last year’s National Championships by a half-point over Apprentice, clinching it with a win in the 235-pound title match at that event. What these two teams will bring to the 2019 NCWA Championships will be the top story to follow heading into the March 14-16 tournament in Allen, Texas, outside Dallas.  

Apprentice opened the match with consecutive pins by Colton Messick at 125 pounds and Kolin Johnson at 133. Ty Boyd then followed with a 5-4 decision over Charles Hudson at 141 to post a 15-0 advantage for the Builders. 

It was a 10-5 decision by sophomore Chad Cantrell at 149 pounds that started Liberty’s surge. Flames junior 157-pounder Andrew Burgette needed less than two minutes to record an 18-0 technical fall of Apprentice's Tyler Allen to bring Liberty to within 15-8. 

The Builders, sixth at last year’s National Duals, stopped Liberty’s momentum for the moment in the 165 match when Chad Simmons edged Luke Ely, 4-3. But it would be their last win. Despite the runner-up finish, Apprentice kept its string alive of placing among the top six teams at this tournament every year but two since 2010. 

Sam Karel’s pin of Jeremy Mosley at 174 pulled Liberty back within a one-match striking distance, 18-14, before Josh McIlhenny tied the dual up at 18-18 in the next match at 184 with an 11-3 major decision over William Sorey. Austin Amos, whose national-title-winning match pushed Liberty over Apprentice in last year’s NCWA Championships, won by decision over Dan Henson to give the Flames their first lead at 21-18. 

"It's hard to give another team that kind of momentum, but our guys were anticipating going down early, our senior guys and upper weights, especially," Liberty Assistant Coach Chris Williamson said.

"They did a really good job of keeping their composure, not panicking and wrestling the way they should have."

Jeffrey Allen then clinched the title in the next match with a 14-2 major decision at 235 over Ross Graham, last year’s 197-pound national champion. 

"That basically sealed the dual up for us," Williamson said. "Any time Ross would get out of position, Jeff would put him on his back and he dominated the match."

Dominick Johnson won the 285 match 4-2 over John Pierce.

Liberty trailed Emmanuel College 15-3 in last season’s National Duals title match as well before rallying with wins in the final six bouts for a 30-15 win that came on their home mats.

"It's pretty amazing," Williamson said. "We were pumped up afterwards, but we realize that's only half of the battle. We can get excited that we are the dual National Champions, but the big one is in March."

By winning the National Duals, the Flames earned 20 team points that will carry into their Grand National title defense at the NCWA Championships.  Apprentice, earning 19 team points, still has a shot at a national title this year as the National Individual Tournament title is no longer affected by the National Duals' team points.  The duals' points are added to the tournament points afterwards to crown an overall Grand National Champion.


2019 NCWA National Duals 

Championship Match
Box Score

Liberty 28, Apprentice 18
125 lbs. – Colton Messick, Apprentice, def. Lyndon White, by fall, 1:57
133 lbs. – Kolin Johnson, Apprentice, def. Lukas Araujo, by fall, 0:45
141 lbs. – Ty Boyd, Apprentice, def. Charles Hudson, by dec., 5-4
149 lbs. – Chad Cantrell, Liberty, def. Tristan Mabe, by dec., 10-5
157 lbs. – Andrew Burgette, Liberty, def. Tyler Allen, by tech fall, 18-0 (1:55)
165 lbs. – Chad Simmons, Apprentice, def. Luke Ely, by dec., 4-3
174 lbs. – Samuel Karel, Liberty, def. Jeremy Mosley, by fall, 2:35
184 lbs. – Josh McIlhenny, Liberty, def. William Sorey, by maj. dec., 11-3
197 lbs. – Austin Amos, Liberty, def. Dan Henson, by dec., 6-1
235 lbs. – Jeffrey Allen, Liberty, def. Ross Graham, by maj. dec., 14-2
285 lbs. – Dominick Johnson, Liberty, def. Peter Cortapasso, by dec., 4-2