BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In its final meet of the dual season No. 10 Lehigh put forth a dominant performance, winning nine bouts in a 35-4 rout of Penn Sunday inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. The Mountain Hawks won the final nine bouts, including four bonus point wins and three upsets of top-ten ranked Penn wrestlers.
With the victory Lehigh closes the dual season at 15-6 overall and 7-1 against EIWA opponents.
“I’m really pleased,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “Penn’s a really good team and we knew that on paper there would be a lot of tight matches. We were fortunate to come out on top tonight, but as we always say, it’s about the postseason. Last year we won the dual and Penn came back and had a great conference tournament, so we have to peak in two weeks.”
No. 10 Lehigh dominates Penn to win dual finale 35-4
Lehigh honored its lone senior starter, Mitch Berger prior to the match, but Berger dropped a 12-4 major decision to Mark Rappo at 125 in the opening bout. It was the only win of the day for the Quakers, who fell to 10-6 overall and 5-2 in the EIWA.
True freshmen Frank Cagnina and Stephen Dutton keyed the Lehigh run as they provided back-to-back upset wins to give Lehigh a 6-4 lead.
Cagnina bounced back from a loss to Matt Fusco of Rutgers Thursday night by defeating fifth-ranked Rollie Peterkin 5-2 at 133. Cagnina chose neutral in the second after a scoreless first period and scored the first takedown of the match. He added a second takedown in the third period to secure his second win over a top-ten wrestler this season.
Dutton then gave the Mountain Hawks the lead with an 8-7 decision over No. 9 Zack Kemmerer at 141. Dutton scored a takedown 19 seconds into the first period and rode Kemmerer for the remaining 2:41. Kemmerer responded with a takedown in the second period but with two escapes Dutton led 4-2. Dutton scored his second takedown in the third period and with riding time was able to hold on for a one-point victory after Kemmerer mounted a late charge with two third period takedowns.
Lehigh picked up its first two bonus wins of the day to take a 16-4 lead into intermission. At 149, sophomore Joey Napoli racked up four takedowns in a 10-2 major decision over Andrew Lenzi, while junior Sean Bilodeau followed with his sixth fall of the year, putting Brad Wukie on his back for a pin in just 23 seconds.
The Mountain Hawks were able to continue their momentum into the second half of the dual. Junior Brandon Hatchett concluded a strong weekend by defeating Gabe Burak 7-2 at 165. Hatchett scored to second period takedowns and reversed Burak to open the 3rd.
At 174 freshman Austin Meys squared off against returning All-American Scott Giffin. After a scoreless first period Meys rode Giffin out in the second period and reversed him to take a 2-0 lead early in the third. Meys went to work from the top position and looked to turn Giffin with his quarter nelson. Giffin fought valiantly wrestling with an injured shoulder and knee, but when Meys turned him, Giffin called for injury time and defaulted at 6:04 to give Meys the win and Lehigh six more team points.
Junior Robert Hamlin extended Lehigh’s lead with a 12-4 major decision over Erich Smith at 184. After a slow start Hamlin worked his way into three third period takedowns to secure the major.
Lehigh’s third upset came at 197 where junior Joe Kennedy knocked off fourth ranked Micah Burak 4-3. Kennedy countered a Burak charge with a throw late in the first period and ended up on top with a takedown to lead 4-3 after one. Burak trailed 3-0 before escaping and taking down Kennedy in the third, but Burak allowed Kennedy to escape for the deciding point and Kennedy held his ground defensively in the final seconds.
“Joe hasn’t really been sharp lately,” Santoro said. “To come back and beat a guy who I think is one of the best wrestlers in the country was really good for him. It was a hard fought match. Micah keeps coming and Joe’s a goer too but Joe got that throw at the end of the first period which was huge.”
In the final bout of the day junior Zach Rey was challenged at times by Kyle Cowan, but scored two first period takedowns and added another in the third to win 9-2, moving his season record to 26-0. Rey is the first Lehigh wrestler to post an undefeated regular season since Troy Letters in 2005.
“As a team, this is the way you want to be wrestling at the end of the year,” Santoro said. “We just have to keep this momentum going forward.”
The Mountain Hawks will now shift their focus to the 107th EIWA Championships, March 5-6 at Bucknell’s Sojka Pavilion.
Lehigh 35 Penn 4
125 – Mark Rappo (UP) major dec. Mitch Berger (LU) 14-6
133 – Frank Cagnina (LU) dec. Rollie Peterkin (UP) 5-2
141 – Stephen Dutton (LU) dec. Zack Kemmerer (UP) 8-7
149 – Joey Napoli (LU) major dec. Andrew Lenzi (UP) 10-2
157 – Sean Bilodeau (LU) pinned Brad Wukie (UP) 0:23
165 – Brandon Hatchett (LU) dec. Gabe Burak (UP) 7-2
174 – Austin Meys (LU) injury default Scott Giffin (UP) 6:04
184 – Robert Hamlin (LU) major dec. Erich Smith (UP) 12-4
197 – Joe Kennedy (LU) dec. Micah Burak (UP) 4-3
285 – Zach Rey (LU) dec. Kyle Cowan (UP) 9-2
Referee – Joe Bartell
Attendance – 1,554