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Eight Final­ists, 12 All-Amer­i­cans Keep Liberty On Top

| Scott Farrell

ALLEN, Texas –Another day of domination kept Liberty atop the NCWA Championships standings board with eight finalists leading its group of 12 All-Americans.

The Flames’ takeover of the tournament brackets is all but wrapped up with 196 team points, and counting. Left to see in Saturday’s placing rounds at the Credit Union of Texas Event Center is how much of the NCWA’s record book can this Liberty team claim as well.

Liberty’s pending championship comes as no surprise – it has won the last three NCWA titles. But this fourth consecutive trophy will set the program’s first record in a day that will likely have others fall as well. Only one other NCWA team has ever won three consecutive championships – Grand Valley State from 2006-2008. No one has won four straight until now.

It's an impressive run. Jesse Castro and a Liberty staff that outnumber most schools’ qualifier lists were all smiles as they racked up plenty of mileage Friday moving among the 10-mat layout. If there was a moment at which there wasn’t a Liberty wrestler competing on a mat somewhere, you couldn’t tell.

Yet to see Saturday is the conclusion of another extended national title run as Texas A&M senior Ty’Rae Carter reached the 149-pound championship match again. Carter is poised for a historic match looking to become only the fifth NCWA wrestler to win three national titles. He was the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the NCWA Championships in 2019 and 2020. Including a national runner-up finish in 2018, Carter becomes only the third NCWA wrestler to reach four national championship matches and the first since 2010.

This Liberty lineup is just getting started - six of Liberty’s eight finalists are first-time NCWA All-Americans. That’s quite a showing from the Flames’ young wrestlers. Jeffrey Allen, a senior and two-time defending NCWA champion at 235 pounds, will have to tell the rest what it’s like to wrestle on the raised stage in the finals matches. He’s the only one on the roster who’s been there before and only the 15th wrestler to appear in three national title matches.

The Apprentice School had a great showing Friday resulting in its second-place showing at days’ end with 130.5 points. The Builders have four wrestlers in the finals – three of them will face Liberty opponents – and two other All-Americans wrestling in consolations that will aim to fend off third-place Grays Harbor College (Wash.). The Chokers have 115.5 points with one finalist but eight other All-Americans looking to score in the placing matches.

Another national title run, this one by the three-time defending Division II NCWA champion Penn State Wrestling Club, is in jeopardy. The Nittany Lions overtook the Ohio State WC on Friday to vault into first with 85.5 points, just ahead of the Buckeyes’ 83. Ohio State WC has placed second behind Penn State WC the past two tournaments. Both teams have six wrestlers in the placing matches Saturday to set up a great rush to the finish.

Among the NCWA records within reach for Liberty on Saturday:

* This will be Liberty’s fifth overall team title, which ties it with Grand Valley State for the most all-time among NCWA programs.

* The eight finalists give the Flames a solid shot at earning six national champions. Liberty already owns part of the record of five in one season from the 2019 and 2020 Championships to tie with Grand Valley State from 2001.

* Liberty’s 12 All-Americans ties for fourth in NCWA history for one season.

* The team scoring record is in jeopardy. Liberty’s 196 points and 12 wrestlers competing Saturday put it within reach of Grand Canyon’s record of 254.5 points from the 2014 Championships. Liberty’s school record is 228 points from its win at the 2020 Championships.