UMBC Wrestling Has Success In Dalton, Georgia

Dalton, Ga. -- UMBC's wrestling team had its best-ever finish at the NCWA National Duals on Saturday, placing third at the event with a 5-1 dual meet record.

Though the team was without returning NCWA national finalist, Daniel Carr (149 / Southern-Garrett), UMBC took No. 1 seed and eventual champion Liberty to the wire in a 25-21 bout that was Liberty's toughest dual of the tournament.

Jesse Castro, the coach of Liberty -- a former NCAA DI program, which last year won the East Region and defeated the University of Maryland in a dual -- said UMBC pushed his team to its limit.

“My hat’s off to the UMBC team,” Castro told “They made us compete with everything we were worth, and we did not anticipate that. It’s a testament to this association, and the vision the NCWA has is real encouraging and inspiring.”

In the finals, Liberty defeated Lindenwood-St. Charles -- last year's NAIA runner-up, which is transitioning to NCAA DII -- by a score of 25-15.

UMBC opened the tournament on Friday night with a 44-9 win over the University of Georgia, followed by a 56-0 shutout of North Florida.

On Saturday, the Retrievers defeated East Tennessee State, 56-3, in a dual in which UMBC 197-pounder Alec Pence (Chopticon) won a rematch of last year's Mid-Atlantic Conference final by major decision.

That dual meet win put UMBC into the quarterfinals against conference rival The Apprentice School, which had defeated the University of Central Florida in an earlier round. (Central Florida and The Apprentice School had both recently fared well at the Virginia Duals, where UCF beat Johns Hopkins 35-11 and Apprentice placed fourth in the American College division.)

Apprentice jumped out to a 21-3 lead over UMBC, before the Retrievers strung together five straight wins to close out the dual. Mike Munno (174 / DeMatha) got the rally started with a major decision over an Apprentice wrestler who had defeated him previously; Chris Urps (184 / Chesapeake-AA) then pinned a wrestler who had pinned him earlier this year; Eldar Muradov (197 / Russia) and Pence (235) then bumped up to beat two of Apprentice's better wrestlers. The match came down to heavyweight, where Karim Mansour (285 / Western Tech) avenged an earlier loss to Apprentice's heavyweight to grab the 22-21 victory.

The win advanced UMBC to the Liberty bout in the semi-finals, where Kris Dutt (125 / Howard), Kekura Musa (133 / Blair), Martin Mitchell (157 / Laurel), Pence and Mansour all won bouts.

After falling to Liberty, UMBC faced perennial power Grand Valley State (Michigan) for third place. UMBC dominated the meet, 31-10, with wins from Dutt, Musa, Brian Samuels (141 / Leonardtown), Junior Monzey (165 / Georgetown Prep), Urps, Munno, Muradov and Mansour.

Impressively, Mansour went a perfect 6-0 at the duals, which demonstrates the marked improvement the senior has made throughout his college career.

Mitchell, who leads UMBC in wins with a record of 38-11, went 5-1, as did Musa, Urps and Muradov, who leads the team with 16 pins. Dutt went 4-1.

Samuels, who is second on the team with 15 pins, went 4-2, as did Pence. Munno went 3-2. Monzey went 3-3.

Here's coverage of the event from ... leID=24627

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