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Lib­er­ty Leads After Day One

| Scott Farrell

ALLEN, Texas – It’s a four-team race after the first day of the 2020 NCWA Championships. Liberty, the two-time defending champion, has a 14.5-point lead over The Apprentice School (58 points) with Springfield Tech CC (57.5) and Grays Harbor College (55) just behind going into Friday morning’s quarterfinals.

Liberty still has 14 wrestlers alive in the championship brackets and four in the consolations. Apprentice has 10 in the championship brackets and two in consolation. STCC (5 championship, 7 consolation) and Grays Harbor (7, 5) each have 12 wrestlers still alive as well. All but two of the top-four seeds in each weight class remain in their championship brackets.

The tournament continues at 9 a.m. Friday with the men’s quarterfinals and consolations and the opening rounds of the women’s tournament.

Here’s a review of Thursday’s action in each weight class:

125 pounds – The top four seeds all advanced to the quarterfinals. Top-seeded Colton Messick of Apprentice has a key match coming up in the quarters facing nine-seed Dylan Beddow of STCC. Messick had two pins to advance. Apprentice has a second wrestler in the bracket in freshman Dillon Messick, the seven-seed, who will face returning All-American and second-seeded Kameron Kempker of Grand Valley State. STCC’s third seed, Chris Vega, faces Schreiner’s Cody Cabanban in another quarterfinal, and the 4-5 match is West Chester’s Manuel Canfijn facing Jovan Garcia of Big Bend CC (Wash.).

133 pounds – Two of the top eight seeds have fallen here, highlighted by one of the day’s biggest upsets as Trevor Dusty of Grand Valley State upended third-seed Eduardo Rodriguez of Big Bend CC in the opening round, 5-4. Texas’ Enrique Munguia moved into the quarters with an 8-4 win in the round of 16 over Dusty. Mason Blank of Penn State-Mont Alto earned two decisions to reach the quarters, where he’ll face four-seed Rahsun Lawrence of East Carolina. Two Penn State-Mont Alto wrestlers are alive in the quarters, as eight-seed Connor Herron faces top-seeded Kolin Johnson of Apprentice. The other quarter will play a role in the top team standings as David Ortiz, the two-seed from STCC, faces seven-seed Diego Nunez of Grays Harbor.

141 pounds – Liberty got a boost by Charles Hudson edging seven-seed Aaron Ward of Mott CC in the second round to advance to the quarters and will now face second-seeded Justin Trinh of Central Florida. Penn State-Mont Alto has another quarterfinalist in five-seed Jack Coulston, who faces Shalek Colon of Apprentice, the four seed. Top-seeded Marcos Mercado of STCC faces nine-seed Cade Cox of Big Bend in another quarter, and East Carolina’s returning All-American Wesley Hollingsworth, the three-seed, takes on West Chester’s Jake Taylor in the other quarter.

149 pounds – Defending national champion Ty’Rae Carter of Texas A&M still sits atop the bracket following two pins and takes on eight-seed Daniel Veleas of UConn in the quarters. This bracket lost its five- and seven-seeds, one of which provided a surprise when Ohio State WC’s Moustapha Bal beat five-seed Michael Gowen of Liberty, 7-5. Bal faces four-seed Cary Palmer of Temple in the quarters. Third-seeded Joseph Pecaitis of the Penn State WC topped Carter Weeks of the Iowa State WC 11-8 in a great match between two of the association’s best club teams. Pecaitis faces Akron’s Andrew Halko, the six-seed, in the quarters. Hunter Weiss of Wayne State faces returning national finalist Zach Blevins of Toledo in the other quarter.

157 pounds – Adolfo Delacruz of Sacramento State headlined this weight class by advancing to the

quarterfinals with an 11-4 win over Sadaqut Zamani of the Fresno State WC. He and Florida’s Hayden McCandless, the nine-seed, took two of the quarterfinal spots that saw all of the other top-eight seeds advance. McCandless faces Grand Valley State’s top seed, Brandon Turner, Friday morning while Delacruz take on Liberty’s third-seeded and returning All-American Chad Cantrell. Apprentice’s Bryson Woody, the seven seed, will try to keep pace with Cantrell in another quarterfinal against second-seeded Colin Cronin of Temple. The 4-5 match is Calvin Kopstein of James Madison facing Michael Klee of the Cal Poly WC.

165 pounds – This is a key weight class as Liberty moves into its strengths at the middle weights and a key quarterfinal match between the Flames’ Joe Scott, the top seed, and Apprentice’s eight seed Alec Deutel. Both advanced through two rounds either by pin or tech fall. Liberty also has the three-seed in the bracket alive, and David Cox will face UConn’s Mackay Revis, the six seed, in the quarters. Travel restrictions kept the two-seed, Mason Brestel of the Maryland WC, home, and 15-seed Max-Henry Nelson of Pacific Lutheran took advantage to reach the quarters, where he’ll face seven-seed Patric Schmitz of the Cal Poly WC. The other quarter is the 4-5 match with Farmingdale State’s Stephen Illicete taking on Grays Harbor’s Desmond Bowers.

174 pounds – Liberty has wrestlers alive on both sides of the brackets, starting with two-seed Cody Richmond, who faces Andy Gonzalez, the seven-seed, of Grays Harbor in the quarters. On the opposite side, five-seed Luke Ely of Liberty takes on four-seed Seth Konynenbelt of Grand Valley State. Apprentice is also alive with sixth-seeded David McElravy taking on Mott CC’s Seth Dominguez, the three-seed. Roman Porter of Big Bend CC upset eight-seed Nick Kostyak of Penn State-Mont Alto in the round of 16 and will face top-seed Clay Perry of UCF in the quarters.

184 pounds – The Flames have two wrestlers alive here too, and got a key win in this weight class when Liberty’s Ethan Martin upended Apprentice’s third-seeded William Sorey, 7-5, in the round of 16. Martin now faces Cade Wilbert, the six seed, of the Penn State WC in the quarters. On the other side of the bracket, top-seed Sam Karel earned a pin, a forfeit and a decision to stay atop the bracket. He’ll face Cal Poly WC’s nine-seed, Jared Larsen, in the quarters. The five-seed is now out of this bracket as well when USC’s Dartagnan Phan, seeded 12th, pinned fifth-seeded Brendan Rice of the Michigan WC. Phan takes on Grand Valley State’s Sione Halo, the four seed, the quarters.

197 pounds – The Ohio State WC took the headlines here, advancing two wrestlers into the quarterfinals. Eldar Muradov of OSUWC is the second seed and scored a pin and a tech fall to reach the quarters, where he’ll face James Madison’s Ryan Thomas, the seven seed. Fourth-seeded Kyler Slade defeated Penn State WC’s Danny Starr to advance from the round of 16, and Slade now faces Great Lakes Conference rival and fifth-seeded Dominic Vasquez of Toledo in the quarters. This bracket has been a banner showing thus far for the Division II teams as the Iowa State WC also has a quarterfinalist in eight-seed Tyler Roling. Liberty has two alive in this bracket as well and is again on the top bar with top-seed and returning All-American Austin Amos will face Roling in the quarters. Liberty’s Blake Barrick, the three-seed, will face Dixie State’s six-seed, Bradley Antesberger, in the quarters.

235 pounds – This bracket has a key match between contenders coming Friday when Grays Harbor’s two-seed, Octavio Alejandre, faces John Pierce of Apprentice, the seven-seed. Pierce earned two pins today and Alejandre scored two pins and a major decision. Nicholas Nash of Akron advanced to the quarterfinals here, taking advantage of a wide-open quadrant that saw fifth-seeded Blaine Neal of Colorado State absent due to travel restrictions. Nash, seeded 12th, will face Wayne State’s Tyson Cisneros, the four-seed, in the quarters. A second seeded wrestler is absent here as well after Dominic Ledoux of Springfield Tech won his third match of the day, 8-6, over Grays Harbor’s Noah Winder, the six-seed. Ledoux now has a great challenge taking on David Smith, one of two Liberty wrestlers still alive in the championship bracket and a returning All-American as the three-seed. Liberty also has the top seed in Jeffrey Allen, who takes on West Chester’s Leo Teti-Cassidy, the eight seed, in the quarters.

285 pounds – Liberty has two wrestlers in these quarterfinals as well, but one of them will have to face the top seed in Friday’s quarters. Alexander Hicks of Liberty advanced with a 3-1 win over Clay Morrison of Texas A&M in the round of 16. He’ll face Mitchell Bischoff, the top-seed from Akron who scored two pins Thursday to reach the quarters. Liberty’s two-seed, Frederick Weaver, earned two pins and a forfeit to get the quarters and a match against seven-seed Jantsen Marnis of Dixie State. This bracket will also feature another key match between contenders Apprentice and Grays Harbor in the 4-5 match. Mervyn Penniston-John of Grays Harbor scored one of his two pins Thursday in 16 seconds to advance, and Apprentice’s Peter Cortapasso had a 35-second pin in his opening match to move on. The bracket’s other quarterfinal has the three-seed, Lance Clapp of Mott CC, taking on six-seed Darrin Washington of the University of Houston-Downtown.

Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. Friday at the Allen Event Center. Full results can be found at