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Lib­er­ty Leads NCWA Cham­pi­onships With 11 in Quar­ter­fi­nals; Grays Harbor Near

| Scott Farrell

ALLEN, Texas – The Liberty Flames entered the NCWA Championships as the favorites and wrestled to that end Thursday, resting for the day atop the team standings with 62.5 points after two sessions of action at the Credit Union of Texas Event Center. But the three-time defending NCWA champions received a push in the early going and hold a precarious margin against a surging field.

Liberty entered the tournament with the deepest lineup with 20 qualifiers and has 11 of them wrestling in Friday morning’s quarterfinals. It remains the Flames’ tournament to lose with powerhouse top seeds in the first two and last two weights. But they have yet to shake free of Grays Harbor College (Wash.), a full step behind with 50 points, or conference mate The Apprentice School (48.5), Central Florida (46.5) or Springfield Tech (44.5) in the Division I standings.

Each of Liberty’s top-ranked wrestlers advanced into Friday morning’s quarterfinals: Garrett Good (141 lbs.), David Over (165), two-time national champion Jeff Allen (235) and Rick Weaver (285), the national runner-up in 2020. Also among the Flames’ 11 quarterfinalists alive in the championship rounds are each of their 2-seeds in Dante Minning (125), Logan Roberts (133), Blake Barrick (184) and Josiah Murphy (197). Jaylen Fyffe also remains alive in the 125 quarters, the only weight class where Liberty has two in the quarters.

Charles Hudson, a two-time returning All-American (4th in 2020, 7th in 2019 at 141 lbs) is still alive at 149 and will face two-time national champion and Most Outstanding Wrestler Ty’Rae Carter of Texas A&M in the quarterfinals in one of Friday morning’s feature matches. Ian McIlhenny (157) faces top-ranked Zachary Snyder of Toledo in the quarters in another feature match.

Based on seeding, the day’s biggest upset came from Jeremy Roberts of Gray Harbor, seeded 25th overall, who took down ninth-seeded and returning All-American Keith Skaggs of MIT, 8-4, in the round of 16. Roberts had three wins on the day, topping Damian Thayer of Liberty in the opening round 5-3 followed by a 14-10 decision over Thomas Hoffman of Rowan. Roberts’ results helped spur Grays Harbor into second place as one of its eight quarterfinalists, second only to Liberty.

Joining Roberts in the quarters are top-seeded Sione Halo at 197, second-seed Octavio Alejandre at 235, Donnie Krissak and Noah Cortez each at 125, Saul Rocha, the 6-seed at 141, Karter Kares at 165 and 3-seed Desmond Bowers at 184.

The Apprentice School, second to Liberty at the Mid-Atlantic Conference Championships, saw its two top-seeded wrestlers make it to the quarterfinals with Bruno Alves at 125 pounds and Colton Messick at 133. Second-seeded Raekwon Jackson, a returning All-American at 133 from the 2020 Championships, is in the quarterfinals at 141. Peter Cortapasso (285) and third-seeded John Pierce (235) also reached the quarters. Apprentice has seven wrestlers in the quarterfinals.

Texas A&M’s Carter steamrolled his three opponents Thursday, earning two tech falls by combined 43-12 scores and then punched a note in the NCWA record book with an 11-second pin in the second round, the seventh-fastest pin in tournament history. Zeke Alleman of Dixie State topped that in the next round with a 10-second pin.

Carter aims to become the first wrestler to earn MOW honors three times on the men’s side.

The Ohio State Wrestling Club is atop the Division II standings with 45.5 points bolstered by four wrestlers in the quarterfinals. Moustapha Bal, seeded third, and Yury Pozdneev, seeded fourth, each won two matches to advance in the 157 class. Benjamin Blickie, the four seed at 165, won three matches to reach the quarters. The top eight seeded wrestlers all reached the quarters at 165 and 184, the only two weight classes to fall according to its seeding in the first day. OSUWC’s Graham Carson earned a tech fall and a pin at 174 to reach the quarters as the 4-seed.

Penn State WC, the defending Division II champion from 2020, is second just behind with 40 points.

The 174 bracket offered the day’s most unexpected results as a series of upsets sent four double-digit seeds into the quarterfinals. Dylan Zoucha of the Wisconsin WC, the 12-seed, opened the string with an 8-6 win over Zachary Wolanin of the Ohio State WC in the round of 16. Samuel Calvert of MIT, the 14-seed, outlasted third-seed Parker Drake of Lincoln Memorial. John Arentz of the Penn State WC, the 11-seed, won 7-3 over Riley Hackworth of Florida, and 10th-seeded Drew Doscher of Clemson closed the run with a 2:24 fall on 7-seed Richard Capodilupo of New Hampshire. Three of the top four seeds will meet that upstart foursome in the quarters.

Another big win came from Michael Jackson of Allen University, the 22-seed at 197 pounds, who upset the 11- and 6-seeds to reach the quarters. Roberts (25) of Grays Harbor and Jackson (22) are the two highest-seeded wrestlers remaining in the championship rounds.

Team scores and individual brackets can be found at: