Warning: The Liberty Hurricanes have been a Category 5 for three days now and there is no sign of a weakening storm.
2019 is off to a good start for Jody Karam and his Liberty Canes as they took down #5 Northampton Area on January 2nd and followed that up with a monumental (32-30) win over returning State Dual Team Champions and the State’s #1 ranked team Bethlehem Catholic on Friday night. It was a battle of Bethlehem and once again a coach named Karam came away as the winner. Jody Karam that is.
It was a dual that solidified Liberty as a real contender for not only their first ever PIAA State Team Tournament berth, but even a top four finish. Beating Northampton was no fluke and neither was Friday against BECAHI. Liberty is for real.
The battle started at 285 pounds where red-hot #8 Jaden Freeman, picked up crucial bonus points for Liberty when he pinned #14 Jase Crouse. #8 Dante Frinzi countered with a fall for Bethlehem Catholic over #20 Connor Werner at 106 pounds. #3 Tal-Reese Flemming was able to secure a major decision for Liberty at 113 pounds in a match coach Karam most likely wanted 5 or 6.
In a toss-up at 120 pounds, a pair of PIAA State Medalists clashed, with Liberty senior #6 Matt Maloney earning a (5-2) decision over sophomore #8 Matt Mayer. Things only got better for Liberty at 126 pounds when the State’s #7 ranked wrestler, Michael Torres, delivered a pivotal major decision over #23 Dillon Murphy to put the Canes up (17-6) in the dual after five bouts.
Torres got some redemption after giving up six team points on Wednesday night against Northampton – falling to 2-time Pennsylvania State Champion Julian Chlebove by fall. Fast forward two days and Torres knew what he needed to do.
“I felt very confident going into the match, Torres stated. Especially knowing I needed bonus points. I knew the major was a must, so for me to get it, meant the world to my team.”
2-time State Medalist and #3 ranked Kenny Herrmann closed the gap on Liberty when he collected a tech-fall over Niazi Ansar at 132 pounds. #6 Matt Lackman earned a hard-fought (4-1) decision over talented Liberty senior Travis Brown at 138 pounds. Pennsylvania State Champion, and the Nation’s #1 ranked wrestler at 145 pounds, Ryan Anderson put Bethlehem Catholic ahead by three when the senior pinned Christian Reid of Liberty in the first period.
In the next two bouts a pair of 2018 State Medalists gave the Golden Hawks a (30-17) advantage after #2 Cole Handlovic and #7 Luca Frinzi each earned technical-falls at 152 pounds and 160 pounds respectively.
Those would be the last points scored for Bethlehem Catholic.
In another toss-up and crucial meeting, Liberty again came out on top. This time it was a nail-bitter at 170 pounds between #15 Jaden Youwakim and #16 Joshua Talijan. Like their rankings would indicate, this one was decided by one point when Liberty’s Talijan secured a (5-4) decision over Youwakim. It was followed up by Liberty’s #18 Kevin Hennessey, who took care of business against Henry Pavis, earning an (8-2) decision and bringing them within seven points of BECAHI.
With just two bouts left Bethlehem Catholic head coach Rick Thompson elected to bump #9 Joe Kurtz up to 220 pounds. Therefore, at 195 pounds, Liberty senior #5 Damon Moyer took advantage of Bethlehem Catholic’s Jarius Rosado by pinning him in (2:57). With Bethlehem Catholic up (30-29) it all came down to 220 pounds. For the Canes it was #25 Jake Ahmad taking on BECAHI senior #9 Joe Kurtz, who was giving up 20 pounds by bumping up. With the bout tied (1-1), and under 60 seconds left in the third period, Ahmad lowered his level and reached out for a single leg attack which he cleanly finished for the go-ahead takedown.
As the Liberty bench exploded Ahmad pushed Kurtz out-of-bounds and secured the victory for the Hurricanes over #1 Bethlehem Catholic.
Liberty was rocking.
“There is no word to describe how I felt after watching my teammate Jake Ahmad secure the takedown” said senior Mike Torres. “This match meant everything to me, my coaches, my team, and all the people who support us. I am just happy we could do it in our home gym.”
After the match Canes head coach Jody Karam tweeted out his appreciation for the support.
— Jody Karam (@jodykaram) January 5, 2019
#11 Liberty defeats #1 Bethlehem Catholic (32-30)
285 lbs. – #8 Jaden Freeman (Liberty) over #14 Jase Crouse (Bethlehem Catholic) (Fall 5:51)
106 lbs. – #8 Dante Frinzi (Bethlehem Catholic) over #20 Connor Werner (Liberty) (Fall 2:58)
113 lbs. – #3 Tal-Reese Flemming (Liberty) over Trey Miletics (Bethlehem Catholic) (MD 16-4)
120 lbs. – #6 Matt Maloney (Liberty) over #8 Matt Mayer (Bethlehem Catholic) (Dec 5-2)
126 lbs. – #7 Mike Torres (Liberty) over #23 Dillon Murphy (Bethlehem Catholic) (MD 8-0)
132 lbs. – #3 Kenny Herrmann (Bethlehem Catholic) over Niazi Ansar (Liberty) (TF 16-1 5:44)
138 lbs. – #6 Matt Lackman (Bethlehem Catholic) over Travis Brown (Liberty) (Dec 4-1)
145 lbs. – #1 Ryan Anderson (Bethlehem Catholic) over Christian Reid (Liberty) (Fall 1:14)
152 lbs. #2 Cole Handlovic (Bethlehem Catholic) over Jason Rezac (Liberty) (TF 26-11 5:47)
160 lbs. – #7 Luca Frinzi (Bethlehem Catholic) over Alexander Cruz (Liberty) (TF 22-7 5:37)
170 lbs. – #16 Joshua Talijan (Liberty) over #15 Jaden Youwakim (Bethlehem Catholic) (Dec 5-4)
182 lbs. – #18 Kevin Hennessy (Liberty) over Henry Pavis (Bethlehem Catholic) (Dec 8-2)
195 lbs. – #5 Damen Moyer (Liberty) over Jarius Rosado (Bethlehem Catholic) (Fall 2:57)
220 lbs. – #25 Jake Ahmad (Liberty) over #9 Joe Kurtz (Bethlehem Catholic) (Dec 3-1)