PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Lehigh wrestling team put forth its second straight impressive performance to start the season, as the 15th-ranked Mountain Hawks won eight bouts in knocking off No. 14 Pittsburgh 29-7 Friday night at Fitzgerald Field House. Just like in Lehigh’s win over Drexel a week ago, junior Sean Bilodeau was a winner by fall, while Lehigh’s two true freshmen posted bonus-point wins.
The win moves the Mountain Hawks to 2-0 on the season, while Pitt falls to 0-1.
“We wrestled well and wrestled hard,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “We’re still making some little mistakes but the guys are going hard for seven minutes. We have something to build off of. Today was a good test and we responded well by attacking and pushing the pace.”
After winning all ten weight classes in the season opener against Drexel, Lehigh fell behind early on Friday, as senior Mitch Berger dropped a 17-4 major decision to 14th-ranked Panther Anthony Zanetta at 125. From there, however, it was all Lehigh as the Mountain Hawks rolled to seven straight wins to take a commanding 26-4 lead. Like last Friday, true freshmen Frank Cagnina and Stephen Dutton got the Brown and White going in the right direction.
Cagnina picked up his second major in as many bouts with a 12-4 win over Shelton Mack at 133. Cagnina scored takedowns in each of the first two periods and broke the match open with three takedowns in the third to earn the major decision and tie the dual at four.
With Pittsburgh missing Tyler Nauman at 141, Dutton took full advantage against backup Mike Tully to post a 15-2 major decision. Dutton built a 7-1 lead after one period with a pair of takedowns and a three-point near fall and added a reversal and two-point near fall to open the second period.
Sophomore Joey Napoli won his second straight bout without the benefit of a takedown as he downed Dane Johnson 5-1 at 149. The difference in the bout was a three-point near fall for Napoli in the second period as he added a third-period escape and riding time.
The wildest bout of the night took place at 157 where Bilodeau met Donnie Tasser. In the first period, Bilodeau took Tasser to his back for two-and-two and led 4-1 after the first three minutes, but the Panther Turned the tide with an escape, a takedown and a pair of three-point near falls in the second period to take a 10-5 lead. Bilodeau began the third period down but reversed Tasser before putting him on his back before securing the fall at 6:16.
“Sean made a little mistake and gave up eight points in about 40 seconds,” Santoro explained. “But then he came right back and scored some big points of his own.”
At 165, junior Brandon Hatchett made a first period takedown stand in a 5-1 win over Adam Counterman, setting the stage for a big win by freshman Austin Meys over 19th-ranked Ethan Headlee at 174. Meys avenged a loss to Headlee last season at the Penn State open by winning the battle on their feet with a first period takedown. The match was 2-2 going to the third period after a pair of Headlee escapes. In the final period, the two men traded reversals, before Meys escaped to take a 5-4 lead and with riding time prevailed 6-4 to extend Lehigh’s lead to 23-4.
“Meys was very methodical but he really controlled the match,” Santoro said. “Headlee is a very tough kid, but Meys wrestled hard and was in control. That’s a good win for him.”
Panther true freshman Max Thomusseit gave sophomore Robert Hamlin all he could handle in their matchup at 184. Thomusseit scored a pair of first period takedowns to lead 4-2 after one. Hamlin picked up a takedown in the second period, but was reversed by Thomusseit and trailed 7-5 after two periods. Hamlin took advantage of his superior conditioning in the third period with an escape and two takedowns to rally for a 10-8 victory.
Pittsburgh finally stopped the Lehigh run with a win at 197 as Zac Thomusseit downed junior Joe Kennedy 7-4. Kennedy struggled to find his offense and gave up a four-point move in the third period which proved to be the difference.
The only battle between two ranked wrestlers came in the final bout of the dual at heavyweight as junior Zach Rey squared off against Pitt’s Ryan Tomei. The wrestlers traded escapes in regulation and went to overtime tied at one. After a scoreless sudden victory period, Rey picked up an escape in the tiebreakers and kept Tomei from scoring to prevail 2-1.
Lehigh will wrap-up its road trip on Sunday when the Mountain Hawks travel to No. 6 Penn State. The match is slated for a 2 p.m. start from Rec Hall. The dual will be broadcast on WLVR-FM as well as online at Lehighsports.com.
Lehigh 29, Pittsburgh 7
125 – Anthony Zanetta (Pitt) maj. dec. Mitch Berger (Lehigh) 17-4
133 – Frank Cagnina (Lehigh) maj. dec. Shelton Mack (Pitt) 12-4
141 – Stephen Dutton (Lehigh) maj. dec. Mike Tully (Pitt) 15-2
149 – Joey Napoli (Lehigh) dec. Dane Johnson (Pitt) 5-1
157 – Sean Bilodeau (Lehigh) Fall Donnie Tasser (Pitt) 6:16
165 – Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) dec. Adam Counterman (Pitt) 5-1
174 – Austin Meys (Lehigh) dec. Ethan Headlee (Pitt) 6-4
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. Max Thomusseit (Pitt) 10-8
197 – Zac Thomusseit (Pitt) dec. Joe Kennedy (Lehigh) 7-4
285 – Zach Rey (Lehigh) dec. Ryan Tomei (Pitt) 2-1, t.b.