PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Down 6-0 after two bouts and 9-6 halfway through the 10th-ranked Lehigh wrestling team won the final five bouts to knock off No. 7 Rutgers 21-9 in front of over 5,000 fans at Louis Brown Athletic Center. Three Mountain Hawks upset higher-ranked Rutgers opponents as Lehigh snaps the Scarlet Knights’ 16-dual winning streak as the Brown and White improve to 14-6 on the season and 5-1 against EIWA foes.
“It was a great environment tonight,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “Rutgers really did a nice job promoting the match. We lost those first two, which put us in a hole but the guys responded well. We got key wins from Joey Napoli, Brandon Hatchett all the way through. It was an outstanding performance.”
The host Scarlet Knights (20-2, 8-1 EIWA) had the early momentum as wins at the first two weight classes gave Rutgers an early 6-0 lead. Joe Langel scored reversals in each of the first two periods in a 7-2 win over senior Mitch Berger at 125, while backup 125 Matt Fusco scored an early takedown and added a second in the final seconds of the second period to stun freshman Frank Cagnina 5-3 at 133.
Freshman Stephen Dutton put Lehigh on the scoreboard with an impressive 6-1 win over Trevor Melde at 141. Dutton scored takedowns in the first and third periods plus a second period escape and riding time.
“Stephen Dutton got things rolling and after that we just kept pushing the pace and pushing the pace,” Santoro said. “It made a big difference in the matches.”
At 149, sophomore Joey Napoli upset top-ten ranked Mario Mason 7-2. Mason scored first, but Napoli reversed and built a large riding time advantage heading into the second period. Napoli escaped for the only points of the second period and added a penalty point for Mason’s second stalling warning and a third period takedown plus a riding time advantage.
Rutgers took the lead at the halfway point as Daryl Cocozzo won a 5-3 decision over junior Sean Bilodeau, but from there Lehigh took control winning the final five bouts.
Junior Brandon Hatchett impressed in a 7-2 win over Scott Winston at 165. After a scoreless first period Hatchett escaped to open the second and added a takedown to lead 3-0. Hatchett was reversed to open the third but escaped and added a second takedown to account for the final margin.
The deadlock was broken at 174 as former Lehigh teammates Austin Meys and Alex Caruso squared off. The bout was deadlocked at one into the third period before Meys took Caruso down and picked up over one minute of riding time to win 4-1 and give Lehigh its first lead of the night.
Sophomore Robert Hamlin extended the lead with a 5-2 decision over Dan Rinaldi at 184, while junior Joe Kennedy clinched the dual for the Brown and White with a 3-2 win over Mike Wagner at 197. Wagner scored the only takedown of the match but Kennedy scored two escapes and rode out the third period despite nearly being reversed several times to win on riding time.
The matchup at heavyweight came down to riding time as well as top-ranked Zach Rey moved to 25-0 with a 2-1 win over D.J. Russo. Rey escaped in the second period then built a minute-plus advantage in the third before Russo escaped. Rey did have to defend a late Russo takedown attempt at the final buzzer.
The Mountain Hawks will wrap-up the dual season Sunday when they host the Penn Quakers at 1 p.m. inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Tickets can be purchased online or by visiting the Lehigh ticket office located in Grace Hall.
125 – Joe Langel (RU) dec. Mitch Berger (LU) 7-2
133 – Matt Fusco (RU) dec. Frank Cagnina (LU) 5-3
141 – Stephen Dutton (LU) dec. Trevor Melde (RU) 6-1
149 – Joey Napoli (LU) dec. Mario Mason (RU) 7-2
157 – Daryl Cocozzo (RU) dec. Sean Bilodeau (LU) 5-3
165 – Brandon Hatchett (LU) dec. Scott Winston (RU) 7-2
174 – Austin Meys (LU) dec. Alex Caruso (RU) 4-1
184 – Robert Hamlin (LU) dec. Dan Rinaldi (RU) 5-2
197 – Joe Kennedy (LU) dec. Mike Wagner (RU) 3-2
285 – Zach Rey (LU) dec. D.J. Russo (RU) 2-1
Referees – Gary Kessel and Anthony Zullo
Attendance – 5,011