Braves Upend No. 12 West Liberty State
NEWBERRY, S.C. – UNCP booked 16 takedowns in winning six of 10 individual matches as the Braves handed head coach Jamie Gibbs his second victory over a nationally ranked Division II foe with a 21-12 upset of 12th-ranked West Liberty State in the opening session of the Super Region I Duals Friday evening at Newberry's Eleazer Arena.
The triumph gave UNCP (9-6) its most dual meet victories since the 2003-04 campaign, while also snapping a double-digit losing streak for the Braves against nationally ranked Division II squads. West Liberty (3-5), who brought an 8-4 series lead into its match with the Black and Gold, suffered its third loss in the last five meetings with UNCP. It was the first victory for the Braves over a Division II Top 20 foe since defeating then-No. 20 Carson-Newman on Dec. 2, 2006, at the Carson-Newman Duals.
Russell Weakley gave the Braves an early edge with a dominant performance in the opening tilt of the match, grabbing a 7-1 lead in the first 115 seconds of the 125-pound bout before pinning Sean Jordan with a little more than a minute left in the first period. West Liberty would battle back to tie the team score at six apiece with tight decision victories at 133 and 141 pounds, respectively, but consecutive victories by Brandon Bradley (149 pounds) and Rashaad Saunders (157) gave UNCP a lead it would not relinquish.
The Braves pushed its advantage out to 15-9 following a 10-5 victory by all-American J.J. Davis in his 174-pound match-up with Matt Littleton, but the Hilltoppers cut their deficit to just three points on the strength of an 8-4 victory by Brandon Neifeld in the 184-pound bout.
Aiming to keep the momentum on their side of the mat, Shane Nolan used a third-period takedown to upset seventh-ranked Mitch Knapp, 3-1, and clinch the team victory, before Erik Stancil closed out the upset win with a 5-2 victory in his heavyweight match-up with Mike Carpenter.
UNCP will battle Seton Hill in its Friday Day 1 nightcap at the Super Region I Duals. Wrestling action was set to get underway at 7 p.m.
UNCP 21, #12 West Liberty State 12
125: Russell Weakley (UNCP) pinned Sean Jordan (WLS) F 1:58
133: Nick Wykoff (WLS) dec. Timdarius Thurston (UNCP) D 11-7
141: Matt Cunningham (WLS) dec. Dorian McDougald (UNCP) D 6-5
149: Brandon Bradley (UNCP) dec. A.J. Gavin (WLS) D 12-7
157: Rashaad Saunders (UNCP) dec. Kayne Melko (WLS) D 4-3
165: Derrick Williams (WLS) dec. Derving Rios (UNCP) D 3-1
174: #5 J.J. Davis (UNCP) dec. Matt Littleton (WLS) D 10-5
184: Brandon Neifeld (WLS) dec. John Sturrock (UNCP) D 8-4
197: Shane Nolan (UNCP) dec. #7 Mitch Knapp (WLS) D 3-1
285: Erik Stancil (UNCP) dec. Mike Carpenter (WLS) D 5-2
Starting Weight: 125
Records: UNCP 9-6; West Liberty State 3-5