Liberty Takes Third in State Wrestling Tournament Feb. 11

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Liberty Christian Wrestling Team

Congratulations to Liberty wrestlers who placed third overall in the TAPPS State Wrestling Tournament hosted at Liberty on Feb. 11. 

“It was an awesome experience to hear the gym erupt in applause for the wrestlers,” said head coach David Hughes. “I know the kids loved it, and it made the event that much more incredible. 

“Our boys worked hard and persevered through the season. Placing third in state is our highest finish in Liberty history – it was a great ending to a very good season.” 

Lineup and Results:

106 – Matt Thompson – Fourth Place
113 – Gage Reesor – State Champion
120 – Avrey Webb
126 – Josh Taylor – Third Place
132 – Ryan Leaverton
138 – Max Merriman – Fourth Place
145 – Jett Milner – Second Place
152 – Daniel Elsom
160 – Aaron Deaver – Second Place
170 – Matt Murillo
182 – Austin Mann
195 – Micah Stateson – Second Place
220 – Jordan Sharp – Fourth Place
285 – A.J. Seely – Fourth Place

Wrestling News – Feb. 6

In the first time in its school history, Liberty Christian will host a state athletic event for the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS). The state wrestling tournament will be held this Saturday, Feb. 11. 

“Liberty is honored to host this event,” said Athletic Director Greg Price. “The tournament will be an awesome conclusion to an outstanding year of preparation and hard work for these wrestlers.” 

More than 10 schools from around the state will compete. Weigh-ins begin at 7 a.m., with the opening ceremony to follow at 8:30 a.m. At 9 a.m., the wrestling matches will commence on three mats until the finals. 

The medals for the top three finishers in each weight class will be presented at the conclusion of their match. The top three teams will be recognized at the end of the day during the presentation of awards. 

Liberty President and Founder Dr. Rodney Haire said, “We hope everyone attending enjoys a day filled with excitement and joy as we all watch the top wrestlers in State TAPPS go head-to-head in a display of individual sportsmanship, talent, and ability that is ultimately for the pride of their team and their school.”

For other wrestling action, please see below.

A Wrestling Recap by Coach David Hughes

As seen in the Warrior Club newsletter in January

Warrior Wrestlers Take Second at McKinney Christian Academy Tournament

The Warrior season has proven to be very exciting and impressive. January brought much success, learning moments, and riveting action. In our first competition after Christmas break, our wrestlers traveled to McKinney Christian Academy for its annual invite tournament. 

Out of the 15 schools participating, private and public, our Warriors placed second as a team! In one of our best showings, we had eight placers. Sophomore Gage Reesor placed first for the first time in his young career. Junior Max Merriman and senior Jett Milner accompanied him atop the podium in their respective weight classes. It was one of the best days of wrestling for Max Merriman that day as he pinned two worthy opponents.

First Place in the McKinney Christian Academy Tournament: Jett Milner, Gage Reesor, and Max Merriman

In addition, junior Micah Stateson placed second, and senior Ryan Leaverton, senior Daniel Elsom, and sophomore Matt Murillo all battled back through the consolation bracket to place third. At the end of the tournament, Milner was named most outstanding wrestler of the lower weights. 

In the following week, the wrestlers of Justin Northwest High School traveled to Liberty for a dual that was one to remember. In a dual match (face-off between two teams), every wrestler in each weight class competes against the opposing school’s respective wrestler in his weight class. In this event, points are accumulated for the team based on the winning wrestler’s style of win. A win by pin gives the wrestler’s team six points. If the win is by decision (points) and not by pin, then three points are awarded. 

To start the battle, we opened the dual with the 120-pound weight class (determined before the match). Freshman Avrey Webb controlled his match and won by pin to put the Warriors on the scoreboard first. 

After the next several matches, Liberty built a solid lead until the upper weight classes met. The matches were full of suspense with back and forth momentum building. Junior Jordan Sharp managed to take the lead with just 15 seconds left in the match, only to lose a takedown attempt and the match in the closing seconds. 

In the following match, sophomore A.J. Seely was in a battle that had fans in the gym on the edge of their seats. The score was tied in regulation, forcing the first overtime with no points scored. With the second overtime ending in a tie, a third was needed, and it was full of anticipation. Northwest scored first, leaving Seely only 10 seconds to takedown his opponent for the win. Not for effort, Seely was unable to capitalize. 

Going into the final two matches of the evening, Liberty led by one point. Sophomore Matt Thompson wrestled a grueling match and fought with determination, but was caught and pinned giving Northwest six team points, which put Liberty down by five team points. We needed Reesor (113 pound) to pin his opponent for Liberty to record six points and capture the team win. Reesor was focused and had his mind set on one goal, which was to pin his opponent. That he did, and with fierce action, he took his opponent down, managed to set up a pinning combination, and turned his opponent over to his back for the individual and team win. In the end, Liberty came out on top, 34-33. 

The action in January did not stop there. In the ensuing weeks, Liberty traveled and competed in two tournaments. The first being the TCA invitational, which always proves to be a challenging contest. Liberty had four placers (another team best) for this tournament. Reesor placed second, Milner finished third, Stateson took fourth, and Seely pinned his final opponent for third. Overall, the team finished eighth out of 14 very tough public teams. 

Coyote Classic Medal Winners - Micah Stateson, Ryan Leaverton, Gage Reesor, Jett Milner, and Max Merriman

The second tournament was the Frisco Heritage Coyote Classic. We had a great showing and placed fourth as a team out of 14 in a tough field. Of the 12 wrestlers competing, we placed seventh. Reesor placed second, Merriman and Milner took first, Webb took fourth, Leaverton placed third, Elsom took fourth, and Stateson placed third. 

Leaverton, who dropped down to fill in our lineup at the 132-pound weight class, has been very exciting to watch and a huge benefit to our team. He had a memorable third place match with a known opponent from McKinney Christian. He scored a reversal just before time expired in regulation to force an overtime period (one minute, first score win) where both wrestlers start on their feet. Leaverton forced the action right away and scored with a takedown to get his hand raised for the win.

 On Jan. 28, Liberty wrestling hosted its first ever tournament onsite in preparation for the state meet that will be held at Liberty on Feb. 11. The meet included three mats, three score clocks and tables, more than 20 volunteers, and six teams. Our parents and volunteers did an amazing job, praises were given continuously, as well as excitement from the visiting coaches about our school hosting this year’s state tournament. The hospitality room was superb, and the entire event performed seamlessly. I am extremely humbled, grateful, and proud to a part of a program with such abundant support and generous efforts. 

On a final note, our Middle School wrestling team finished its season at the state tournament on Jan. 28. The Middle School team experienced one of the school’s most successful seasons, placing several wrestlers at numerous tournaments and defeating programs that were very difficult to compete against in the past. 

Both the seventh and eighth grade classes were very impressive, and it will be exciting to see these two groups of wrestlers compete at the next level. In the past, Liberty’s Middle School program was unable to have numerous if not one wrestler place in the top six for all-state honors. Without accomplished eight graders Tucker Owings and Garrett Sawyer competing due to injury, the team was still determined to make a name for our program. 

Of the 21 Middle School wrestlers traveling to state, 19 qualified for the second day of competition, and in the end, Liberty had five all-state wrestlers. Eighth graders Aron Hawkins and Paul Barbaro both wrestled their way to the finals and finished second. Eighth grader Spencer Cordell, who was undefeated on the season, entered the tournament off a weeklong illness and battled for fifth place. Eighth grader Dalton Pyle finished for sixth place. Newcomer and seventh grader Luke Millican finished an impressive fifth place in his first season of wrestling.

Overall, the Middle School team was awesome, with several wrestlers only one match or just points away from placing and making all-state honors. Coach Zak Bowles and Coach Karkar did an amazing job with the team this year and are an integral part of Liberty wrestling’s future success.

*These and other up-to-date and in-depth articles on Liberty athletics can be found in “Tracking the Warriors,” a monthly publication for members of the Warrior Club.

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