UNCG welcomes Liberty for nonconference bout
UNCG (5-7, 3-0 SoCon) vs. Liberty (7-6) Feb. 2, 4 p.m., Greensboro, N.C.
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- The UNCG wrestling team will seek its fourth consecutive dual win as it welcomes the Liberty Flames to Fleming Gymnasium on Wednesday afternoon.
- Last weekend, UNCG sent 10 wrestlers to the mat to participate in the Appalachian State Open. Freshman Keith Brown placed fourth at the 174-pound class, including defeating teammate Terrence Zaleski 8-6. Freshman Elijah Adams (184) lost a tight bout with Diego Bencomo of Duke, 9-6, to finish in second place. Mooresville, N.C., native Santonio Thompson (149) made his UNCG debut with two impressive wins, 15-11 and 22-15, but was eliminated from the tournament after getting pinned by Immanuel Kerr-Brown of Duke with six seconds remaining in the first period.
- UNCG leads the all-time series, 3-1. The Spartans and Flames will face each other on Feb. 2 for the second consecutive year. Last year, Liberty jumped out to a 3-0 lead with a Chad Porter (165 pounds) victory over UNCG's Victor Hojilla. The lead would be short-lived as UNCG would rip off six straight bouts and take a 23-3 advantage. UNCG's Byron Sigmon (174) and Peter Sturgeon (285) would collect victories over their opponents during the streak, 7-3 and 3-2, respectively. Liberty would not go down quietly as it would win the final three bouts, but it was unable to reclaim the lead as UNCG was victorious, 23-15.
- Liberty's lone victory against the Spartans came on Feb. 5, 2008, when the Flames won 21-15 in Lynchburg, Va.
- After dropping its first five duals of the year, UNCG has been on a torrid run, going 4-2 in 2011, including three straight wins in which it has doubled its opponents' score (80-40). UNCG is 3-0 in the Southern Conference for the first time since the 2006-07 season. During the current winning streak, UNCG has collected three pins, two technical falls and five major decisions. UNCG finished last season on a three-match winning streak, but has not won four consecutive matches since 2006 season when it defeated Buffalo, Appalachian State, Duke and The Citadel in succession.
- The Flames will be led by senior Josh Pelletier (285 pounds) as he has won four of his last six matches and sports an 8-3 record in dual meets this season.
- The confines of Fleming Gymnasium has proven to be nice to the Spartans as they are 8-2 in their last 10 home duals, including a perfect 4-0 record in conference bouts.
- Three Spartans have been furious out of the gates in the New Year as Ivan Lopouchanski, Sturgeon and Jamel Johnson are 5-1 in 2011.
- Peter Sturgeon (285 pounds) has been a force to be reckoned with as he leads the Spartans with five victories against ranked opponents including a victory over No. 13 Clayton Jack of Oregon State. Sturgeon only needed six seconds to pin Conor Sweeney of Bucknell. He is one of two Spartans with 20 wins thus far on the year. Teammate Lopouchanski leads the team with 30 wins.
- On Nov. 19, the Spartans hosted No. 4 Wisconsin for their first dual match of the season. UNCG jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the match, but dropped the final six weight classes to fall, 34-12. Manny Ramirez picked up a win at 125 pounds and Michael Crowley pinned his opponent at 141 pounds to start the match. Lopouchanski, then ranked No. 17, also pulled off a minor upset as he defeated No. 16 Cole Schmitt 9-7 at 149 pounds.
- Lopouchanski was named the first Southern Conference Wrestler of the Week on Nov. 24, the league office announced. A week later, on Dec. 1, he won the honor again. Lopouchanski is currently 30-7 on the year, having won individual titles at the Hokie Open and NC State Open. He has defeated No. 16 Cole Schmitt from Wisconsin twice, No. 6 Kurt Kinser from Indiana and No. 9 Brian Stephens from Virginia Tech. Four of his seven losses have come against wrestlers in the top 20 according to the latest InterMat ranking.
- UNCG currently has one wrestler ranked according to the latest InterMat rankings. Lopouchanski is ranked No. 16 at 149 pounds as he currently has a 30-7 record this season. His 30 wins are a record for wins at the 149-pound weight class in UNCG history. He is the first Spartan to win 30 bouts this season and Sturgeon isn't too far behind with 23 wins on the season.
- The Spartans kicked off their 2010 season this year at the Third Annual Hokie Open Wrestling Tournament. At the tournament, Lopouchanski won the 149-pound title with a win over then-ranked No. 16 Brian Stephens from Virginia Tech in the finals. Byron Sigmon was runner-up at 174 pounds.
- On Dec. 4, UNCG had two wrestlers place at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Lopouchanski (149 pounds) finished sixth, including a victory over-then No. 18 Cole Schmitt from Wisconsin. Sturgeon finished fifth at 285 pounds. Out of Sturgeon's eight bouts, six of them came against ranked wrestlers. His two losses came against No. 5 Jarod Trice of Central Michigan.
- UNCG's match against No. 4 Wisconsin on Nov. 19 marked the highest-ranked opponent that UNCG has ever hosted for a dual match in school history. The last time the Spartans wrestled against a team ranked as high as No. 4 was on Feb. 14, 2009, when UNCG faced No. 4 Nebraska in Chapel Hill, N.C.
- Last year, UNCG claimed its first-ever outright Southern Conference Tournament Championship. Lopouchanski, Hojilla and Sigmon all won individual titles at the tournament.
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