LYNCHBURG, Va. – Just two and half weeks removed from the beginning of the 2008-09 season, three Liberty wrestlers have received national recognition.
Tim Harner, Chad Porter and Chris Daggett were each listed among the Top 20 wrestlers in their respective weight classes, when InterMat, the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) and USA Today released the USA Today/NWCA/InterMat Team and Individual preseason rankings last week.
Harner (Sr., Norristown, Pa.) was the highest ranking Flame, garnering a No. 17 ranking at 141 pounds. Last year, Harner led the Flames with 32 victories and 11 wins by fall, while ranking second on the squad with a 14-3 dual match record. He was one of two grapplers to advance to the Round of 16 at the NCAA National Championship, posting a 2-2 record during his second-straight trip to the national event.
Porter (Sr., Parkersburg, W.Va.) ranked one spot lower than Harner at 165 pounds, finding a spot at No. 18 in the listing. The junior, who is planning on redshirting this season to focus on his academic progress, finished last year with a 28-19 overall record, while adding an 11-3 mark in matches determined by major decision.
Porter was the second Flame to advance to the Round of 16 at last year’s NCAA National Championship, earning the program’s first-ever win in the championship bracket when he upset No. 16 Kurt Swartz of Boise State, 7-4, in the opening round.
Daggett (Sr., Parkersburg, W.Va.) rounds out Liberty’s trio of preseason Top 20 grapplers, taking the No. 19 spot at 184 pounds. The rising senior made his first trip to the NCAA National Championship after capturing the title at the NCAA East Regional, hosted by Liberty. Daggett finished the year with a 12-17 overall record and a 9-13 mark at 184 pounds.
In the team listing, defending national champion Iowa was listed first, taking all 11 first-place votes to be the nation’s unanimous preseason favorite. Iowa State followed at the No. 2 spot, while Cornell, Ohio State and Missouri rounded out the remaining Top 5 programs.
Harner, Porter and Daggett will be on hand this Thursday evening, when head coach Jesse Castro tries to determine his 2008-09 starting line-up by hosting the program’s annual Red and White Intersquad Wrestle Off. The exhibition match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., inside the Schilling Center.