LYNCHBURG, Va. – Emmanuel College parlayed a quick lead into winning five of the first six matches, and the Lions rolled on to a 33-13 win over Liberty in the championship match of the NCWA National Duals. Emmanuel College won the overall NCWA Championship (the Collegiate Cup) last season after a 5th place finish in the 2016 National Duals.
With the win, the Lions earn 24 team points that will advance to the NCWA Championships in March. Liberty as runner-up, earned 23 points toward the nationals, and so on down the 20-team field.
This is the eighth consecutive season that the NCWA has a new National Duals champion. No team has repeated with the title since Grand Valley State won three in a row from 2007-09, and since 2009, only Liberty (2012-13) has been able to reach the finals match the following year as a defending champion.
Emmanuel clinched the title following the 197-pound bout when Maveric Reichsteiner, the top-ranked NCWA wrestler in that class and defending National Champion, pinned Austin Amos of Liberty in 1:43. Reichsteiner scored a takedown in the opening seconds and moved for the fall from there.
Just prior to the clincher, fans watched one of the tournament's best matches at 184 pounds as top-ranked and defending NCWA champion Cody Chaney took on sixth-ranked Taylor Westlake of Liberty. Chaney got ahead early with a pair of takedowns, scored another in the second period, and yielded only three escapes in recording an 8-3 win that put Emmanuel ahead, 21-10.
Trailing 18-4 through six weights, Liberty rallied in the 174-pound match, turning to the strength of its lineup in the middle weights. Josh Ferenczy turned the match around for a moment with a first-period pin against Dylan Gouine. Ferenczy, last year's national runner-up, is the top-ranked wrestler at 174, while Gouine was wrestling up a weight while being ranked ninth at 165.
Emmanuel got an quick boost by gaining a forfeit at 125 for a quick 6-0 lead. Dylan Carlile than pushed the lead to 9-0 with a 6-2 decision over Ashton Robinson. Tyler Sigler got Liberty on the board with a gritty win at 141. Sigler had a 10-0 lead early, but gave up seven straight points before suffering a shoulder injury. The junior fought through it, rejoining the mat with only 10 seconds left in injury time, and scored a takedown late for a 16-7 win.
Jeremiah Lutz kept Liberty from getting any momentum off of Sigler's tough win when he scored a 3-1 win over Brandon Robinson in the next match to put the Lions ahead, 12-4.
At 157, Jay Sheppard rallied from a 5–1 deficit by scoring a takedown with four nearfall points in the second period. Sheppard, ranked sixth in the nation, then added a few escapes for a 10-6 win over 11th-ranked Andrew Burgette of Liberty. Emmanuel's lead moved to 18–4 after the 165 match when JA Jones posted a 4–0 decision over Richard Cerebe. Jones, a junior, is likely to move up in the NCWA rankings after sitting at 12th last week.
Despite the match being clinched, at 235, Charles Hancock put Liberty back on the board with a 3-1 decision over Zak Pitt to get the Flames to within 27-13. The Lions then finished off their championship run when Kenny Mason pins Dominick Johnson in 54 seconds at heavyweight.
In the third-place match, Grand Valley State six of seven matches from 149-235 to seal a 31-20 win over The Apprentice School. Trailing 10-3 at the time, Jake Sobeck started the Lakers' rally with a pin at the end of the first period, and Trevor Pickett (174) added a major decision along the way before Derek Desloover punctuated the spree with another first-period pin at 197 that clinched the win. Harun Bogdanic closed the winning run with an 8-1 decision at 235.
Central Florida, the defending champion, placed fifth with a last-match rally for a one-point win over first-time participant Alfred State. Top-ranked Jesse Gaudin of UCF scored a third-period takedown against Jeff Andrews for a 4-3 decision at 285 that decided the match's winner. Alfred State trailed 24-11 through seven weights before George VanValen and Brandyn Whitacre scored back-to-back first-period pins at 184 and 197 to get the Pioneers within one at 24-23. Mitchell Lattuca then took a 5-0 decision at 235 to put Alfred State ahead by two entering the final heavyweight match.
Springfield Tech defeated Middle Tennessee, 30-18, in the seventh place match. Springfield's heavyweight Donovan Lozada remained undefeated on the year as he stormed through the 285-lb competition including a win over Gaudin by pin in 0:19. Lozada will assuredly be the nation's new #1 wrestler at the weight.
The NCWA Championships are March 9-11 in Allen, Texas, where the association will be celebrating its 20th anniversary.
CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH BOXSCORE
Emmanuel 33, Liberty 13
125 lbs. – Alberto Perez, Emmanuel, wins by forfeit
133 lbs. – Dylan Carlile, Emmanuel, def. Ashton Robinson, Liberty, 6-2
141 lbs. – Tyler Sigler, Liberty, def. Will Hale, Emmanuel, 16-7
149 lbs. – Jeremiah Lutz, Emmanuel, def. Brandon Robinson, Liberty, 3-1
157 lbs. – Jay Sheppard, Emmanuel, def. Andrew Burgette, Liberty, 10-6
165 lbs. – JA Jones, Emmanuel, def. Richard Cerebe, Liberty, 4-0
174 lbs. – Josh Ferenczy, Liberty, def. Dylan Gouine, Emmanuel, by fall 1:38
184 lbs. – Cody Chaney, Emmanuel, def. Taylor Westlake, Liberty, 8-3
197 lbs. – Maveric Reichsteiner, Emmanuel, def. Austin Amos, Liberty, by fall 1:43
235 lbs. – Charles Hancock, Liberty, def. Zak Pitt, Emmanuele, 3-1
285 lbs. – Kenny Mason, Emmanuel, def. Dominick Johnson, Liberty, by fall 0:54
Championship – Emmanuel 33, Liberty 13
3rd place – Grand Valley State 31, Apprentice 20
5th place – Central Florida 27, Alfred State 26
7th place – Springfield Tech 30, Middle Tennessee 18
9th place – Temple 31, Florida 24
11th place – Penn State WC 41, Connecticut 15
13th place – James Madison 28, Toledo 25
15th place – Maine 34, MIT 22
17th place - South Carolina
18th place - Md.-Baltimore County
19th place - Ohio State WC
20th place - East Carolina
For more inforamtion on the Lions, please visit www.goeclions.com