LEWISBURG, Pa. – After placing seven wrestlers in the semifinals, Lehigh advanced three wrestlers to the finals after day one of the 2011 EIWA Championships at Sojka Pavilion. Freshman Frank Cagnina, sophomore Robert Hamlin and senior Zach Rey will compete in Sunday’s finals for the Mountain Hawks, who sit in second place after day one with nine wrestlers still alive.
“We wrestled really hard,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “Tactically though in some cases we made some mental mistakes and we can’t do that. We had been very sharp coming in. The effort was great, but the tactics were not great.”
Cagnina became Lehigh’s first true freshman EIWA finalist since Matt Fisk in 2006 with a thrilling come-from-behind 4-2 sudden victory win over Penn’s Rollie Peterkin at 133. After a scoreless first period, Peterkin rode out the second period and escaped to open the third. In the late stages of the final period, Cagnina converted a takedown and rode out to force overtime with the match tied at two. In the sudden victory period Cagnina shot a high crotch and converted the takedown, nearly adding two near fall points after a brief struggle from Peterkin. Earlier in the day Cagnina picked up two bonus point wins including a second period pin of Brown’s Cort Choate. Cagnina will meet Cornell’s Mike Grey in the finals.
“He keeps coming and coming and finds a way to win,” Santoro said of Cagnina. “It was a great start to the round. All around our wrestling was really good in the semifinal round, but tactically we can’t afford to make those mental mistakes and that was the difference in that last round.”
The Mountain Hawks hit a rough patch midway through the semifinal round, but Hamlin put Lehigh back on track with a 4-1 decision over Dan Rinaldi of Rutgers at 184. Hamlin won his first two matches of the day by major decision and in the semis, converted a first period takedown, which proved to be the difference, adding an escape and riding time along the way. Like Cagnina, Hamlin will also face a Cornell wrestler in the finals, in Steve Bosak.
Rey compiled three bonus victories on the way to his third straight EIWA finals at heavyweight. The defending EIWA champion, Rey moved to 29-0 on the season by pinning Franklin & Marshall’s Dan Canfield and Harvard’s Andrew Knapp before posting a dominant 12-3 major decision over Kevin Lester of Columbia in the semifinals. In the finals, Rey will meet Ryan Flores of American for the third time this season. Rey won the previous two meeting this season, but Flores beat Rey in sudden victory in the 2009 EIWA finals.
Lehigh’s two other number one seeds stumbled in the semifinal round after promising starts. At 141, freshman Stephen Dutton opened the tournament with two wins including a technical fall in his first bout before meeting upstart Casey Thome of Army in the semifinals. Dutton struck first with a takedown and led 3-1 going into the third period before Thome caught Dutton on the edge of the mat and put him on his back, securing the shocking fall in 5:37.
Junior Brandon Hatchett endured a similar situation at 165, taking the early lead on Eren Civan of Columbia in the semis. Hatchett, however, got caught in a scramble for a takedown and two-point near fall in the final seconds of the second period that gave Civan the lead. Hatchett continued applying pressure but could not score the points necessary to tie the match as Civan prevailed 6-4.
Another mistake proved costly at 174 as Austin Meys gave up a takedown in the final seconds of the first period while trying to separate Matt DeMichiel’s hands for a takedown of his own. The takedown stood up as DeMichiel knocked off Meys for the second time this season, 3-2 being the final score.
“We let a lot of matches slip away today,” Santoro explained. “Dutton was having a great day and a great match and relaxed on the edge and ended up being put on his back and pinned. He’s got to bounce back tomorrow. Brandon (Hatchett) was probably a little over-aggressive in going for the cradle and Austin (Meys) was a little overaggressive as well.”
Lehigh’s seventh semifinalist, junior Joe Kennedy wrestled a strong match against top-ranked Cam Simaz at 197. The match was tied 1-1 through regulation and a sudden victory period, but in the tiebreakers, Simaz turned Kennedy for a three-point near fall and then escaped to win 5-1.
Sophomore Joey Napoli and junior Sean Bilodeau also remain alive in the consolations for Lehigh. Napoli gave up a takedown in the final ten seconds to lose a 4-3 heartbreaker to Mario Mason of Rutgers in the quarterfinals, but rebounded with a major decision and a pin in the consolations to guarantee himself a top-six finish at 149.
Bilodeau had the bad luck of facing top-ranked Steve Fittery of American in the quarterfinals at 157 as he dropped a 12-3 major decision despite nearly putting Fittery on his back in the final seconds. He needed a third-period comeback to defeat Columbia’s Jake O’Hara and after a loss in the consolation quarters will wrestle for seventh place on Sunday.
The only Mountain Hawk not to survive day one was senior Mitch Berger. Lehigh’s lone senior starter, Berger did have a bright spot on the day, winning a major decision over Columbia’s Penn Gotfried in the opening bout of the tournament before dropping his next two bouts.
In the team race, Cornell leads in its quest for a fifth straight team title. The Big Red have six men in the finals and 146 team points. Lehigh is comfortably in second place with 105, while American, Rutgers and Penn round out the top five.
“Right now we just have to try to get as many guys as possible to the national tournament,” Santoro said. “That’s what we came here for. We still have a shot to get a number of guys through and we have to get them through tomorrow.”
The 107th EIWA Championships conclude Sunday at Bucknell’s Sojka Pavilion. Session three, with the consolation semis and placement rounds will begin at 10 a.m. while the finals will begin at 3 p.m. with audio coverage on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehighsports.com beginning at 2:45.
125 – Mitch Berger
First round: major dec. Penn Gotfried (Columbia) 10-1
Quarterfinals: L by major dec. Frank Perrelli (Cornell) 12-3
2nd round consolations: L by dec. Nick Arujau (American) 7-3
133 – Frank Cagnina
First round: pinned Cort Choate (Brown) in 3:47
Quarterfinals: major dec. Kyle Gilchrist (Columbia) 10-2
Semifinals: dec. Rollie Peterkin (Penn) 4-2, s.v.
Finals: vs. Mike Grey (Cornell)
141 – Stephen Dutton
First round: tech. fall Josh Houldsworth (Columbia) 16-0, 6:06
Quarterfinals: dec. Dustin Haislip (Navy) 7-4
Semifinals: pinned by Casey Thome (Army) 5:37
Consolation semifinals: vs. Corey Manson (Cornell)
149 – Joey Napoli
Quarterfinals: L by dec. Mario Mason (Rutgers) 4-3
2nd round consolations: major dec. Joe Locksmith (Navy) 10-0
Consolation quarterfinals: pinned Andrew Lenzi (Penn) 4:22
Consolation semifinals: vs. Ganbayar Sanjaa (American)
157 – Sean Bilodeau
Quarterfinals: L by major dec. Steve Fittery (American) 12-3
2nd round consolations: dec. Jake O’Hara (Columbia) 6-5
Consolation quarterfinals: L by dec. D.J. Meagher (Cornell) 9-5
Seventh place match: vs. Brantley Hooks (Bucknell)
165 – Brandon Hatchett
First round: dec. Alex Smith (Army) 7-1
Quarterfinals: dec. Mason Bailey (Navy) 4-1
Semifinals: L by dec. Eren Civan (Columbia) 6-4
Consolation semifinals: vs. Patrick Graham (American)
174 – Austin Meys
Quarterfinals: pinned Matt Fullowan (F&M) 5:59
Semifinals: L by dec. Matt DeMichiel (Navy) 3-2
Consolation semifinals: vs. Scott Giffin (Penn)
184 – Robert Hamlin
First round: major dec. Thomas Barreiro (American) 16-6
Quarterfinals: major dec. Michael Erdman (Princeton) 14-5
Semifinals: dec. Dan Rinaldi (Rutgers) 4-1
Finals: vs. Steve Bosak (Cornell)
197 – Joe Kennedy
Quarterfinals: dec. Jay Hahn (Bucknell) 3-2
Semifinals: L by dec. Cam Simaz (Cornell) 5-1, t.b. 1
Consolation semifinals: vs. Daniel Mitchell (American)
285 – Zach Rey
First round: pinned Dan Canfield (F&M) 5:43
Quarterfinals: pinned Andrew Knapp (Harvard) 3:10
Semifinals: major dec. Kevin Lester (Columbia) 12-3
Finals: vs. Ryan Flores (American)
Team Standings (Saturday final)
1. Cornell 146
2. LEHIGH 105
3. American 84
4. Rutgers 83
5. Penn 80.5
6. Navy 69.5
7. Columbia 53
8. Army 52.5
9. Bucknell 49.5
10. Princeton 40.5
11. Harvard 35.5
12. F&M 18
13. Brown 6