Hilltopper Wrestlers Tie Ashland 18-18

February 14, 2009

The West Liberty wrestling team closed out its regular season by battling Ashland University to an 18-18 tie Saturday night at the ASRC.

Coach Brian Davis's Hilltoppers dominated the lighter weights, winning four of the first five matches.

Junior 157-pounder Mitch Smith capped West Liberty's early surge with the only fall of the match, a third-period pin of Ashland senior Nic Albaugh, and the hosts held a 15-3 lead at the midway point. The Eagles got back in the match with back-to-back decisions at 165 and 174, although the Hilltoppers' Brandon Neifeld threw a big scare into Ashland's nationally-ranked Justin Ferguson in their 174-pound match. Ferguson, ranked No. 7 in the nation, had to come from behind in the third period to force the match into an overtime period before pulling out a 6-4 decision.

West Liberty 184-pounder Mitch Knapp gave the hosts a bit more breathing room with his 9-5 decision against Tom Kerrigan but Ashland picked up a forfeit at 197 pounds and the Hilltoppers' lead was down to 18-15 heading into the final match.

Tyler Hawkins scored a takedown of the Hilltoppers' Cody Tominack in the final 30 seconds of their 285-pound match to salvage the tie for the Eagles with a 3-2 decision.

West Liberty closed out the regular season with a 4-3-1 dual meet record.

The Hilltoppers will be idle this week in preparation for the NCAA Division II Regional, scheduled for Feb. 27-28 at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa.

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