Liberty then followed up that victory by rolling through the NCS Division II Dual Meet Championships, defeating Northgate 40-27 to claim the team title for the third consecutive season.
Coming into the Liberty meet, Freedom was hoping to create a three-way tie atop the standings with Liberty and Antioch. And after a pin by a Freedom wrestler in the 171-pound weight class got the score close at 19-28, it appeared that the Falcons would not go quietly.
But five consecutive pins by the Lions to finish the match, including three consecutive first-round falls in the three heaviest weight classifications, ended all doubt about who had the rightful claim to the dual meet title. Dominic Campa at 189 pounds started the string of pins by stopping his match with 33 seconds remaining in the first period. Denzel King took just four seconds longer than Campa to pin his opponent in the 215-pound weight class, and Tyler Blank bested both of them by pinning his 275-pound opponent with 48 seconds remaining in the first round.
At that point, the Lions led 46-19 with the two lightest weights remaining to clash. Austin Solari (103) and Paul Gomez (112) both pinned their opponents in their respective weight classes to finish the match.
Early in the match, the two teams traded blows to keep the scoring close. Liberty’s Josh Fio staved off two near-falls in the 119-pound match, and turned a 10-2 second-round deficit into a reversal and pin with 42 seconds remaining in the second round. “He sort of lost track of where he was at during the match,” said Liberty Coach Greg Chappel. “But he took advantage of good position later and was able to finish the match.”
Freedom responded with a pin from sophomore Roman Garcia in the 125-pound weight class and took a 9-6 lead when Zach Wiley captured an 8-2 decision at 130 pounds. Nico Serrano gave the lead back to Liberty with a third-round pin before Freedom grabbed a 13-12 lead following captain Dominic Dimercurio’s 12-4 victory in the 140-pound match.
It would be the last lead of the night for the Falcons, however, as three straight victories, including pins by Jesse Baldazzo and Kevin Milner, gave the Lions a comfortable margin they would never relinquish in a battle of two rival schools displaying young wresting talent that’s among the best in the North Coast Section.
“We have two freshmen and eight sophomores in our lineup,” said Freedom Coach John Parsons. “Half of those did not wrestle prior to high school, so they are on a learning curve. However, we hope to get about 10 guys to NCS this year, and we’ve wrestled well against tough competition.”
Liberty, meanwhile, carried the momentum from its BVAL dual title into the NCS Dual Championships, where the Lions routed Kennedy-Fremont 76-0 and Albany 57-18 before facing Northgate in the final. Anthony Boler got the Lions off to the lead at 160 pounds with a 6-5 decision. Liberty then saw the Broncos take a 15-3 lead before Tyler Blank pinned his heavyweight opponent 39 seconds into the match.
The Lions also picked up pins from freshman Joe Trujillo, junior Josh Fio, and junior Nico Serrano. Serrano’s third-round pin at 135 pounds secured the victory for the Lions, who wrestled with just one senior in the lineup, showing promise for the future as well as the present.
Both schools will be back in action at 3 p.m. today, Feb. 19, when Antioch hosts the Bay Valley Athletic League wrestling championships.