LEWISBURG, Pa. – Sophomore Robert Hamlin captured the EIWA title at 184 to lead the Lehigh wrestling team to a second place finish at the 107th EIWA Championships, which wrapped-up Sunday at Sojka Pavilion. Hamlin defeated Cornell’s Steve Bosak 6-5 in the finals to win Lehigh’s 197th individual championship, leading the way for the Mountain Hawks, who qualified seven wrestlers for the NCAA Championships.
"We knew coming in Cornell was a heavy favorite," said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro, as the Big Red won their fifth straight team title. "We knew it would be a challenge. We were hoping to get a couple more guys in the finals, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. Last year we came out flat, but this year I thought we wrestled really hard. I’m proud of the way we wrestled. Great to have a tournament like this to get ready for Nationals."
Hamlin and Bosak squared off for the second time this season, with Hamlin winning the previous meeting 5-4 at Stabler Arena. The Vermont native got off to a fast start scoring an early takedown on a quick shot, before yielding a quicker escape. Bosak escaped to open the second period and added a takedown of his own to take a 4-2 lead. Hamlin evened the match at four with escapes in the second and third periods. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Hamlin countered a Bosak shot and quickly got behind the Big Red grappler for the decisive takedown. A subsequent Bosak escape accounted for the final margin as Hamlin won to improve to 28-2 on the season.
"I wrestled Bosak before so I knew what to expect," Hamlin said. "Last time we wrestled I wasn’t aggressive. I didn’t take many shots. This time my goal was to take a lot more shots, put more pressure on him and try to score some more takedowns."
Top-ranked junior heavyweight Zach Rey was not as fortunate as he suffered his first loss of the season, a 4-2 tiebreaker setback to Ryan Flores of American. The loss dropped Rey’s season record to 29-1, with two previous victories over Flores included in the win total. The wrestlers were tied at one after regulation and a sudden victory period. Flores was down first to open the tiebreakers, and took the lead when Rey was penalized for locked hands early in the period. Needing to ride out to maintain just a one point deficit, Flores reversed Rey onto his back in the final seconds. No near fall points were awarded so Rey trailed 4-1, but he could only muster an escape in the second 30 second tiebreaker period.
"At that elite level you have to be focused to beat a guy like that over and over again," Santoro said. "Flores is a great wrestler and they’ve been back and forth for a few years. We need to do some homework and get ready for the NCAA tournament."
Lehigh’s third finalist, Frank Cagnina did not compete, forfeiting to Cornell’s Mike Grey at 133.
Among those who competed in Sunday morning, four Mountain Hawks won matches to earn automatic berths to the NCAA championships.
At 141, freshman Stephen Dutton delivered Lehigh’s only bonus point of the session with a dominant 13-1 major decision over Corey Manson of Cornell in the consolation semifinals. Dutton dropped a 4-2, sudden-victory decision to Penn’s Zack Kemmerer in the consolation finals to take fourth place in his first EIWA tournament.
Freshman Austin Meys also qualified for NCAAs with a win in the consolation semifinals at 174. Meys erased an early 4-0 deficit to defeat Scott Giffin of Penn 10-5, scoring ten unanswered points along the way. With NCAA qualification secured, Meys defaulted to Rutgers’ Alex Caruso for fourth place.
Sophomore Joey Napoli and junior Joe Kennedy both overcame consolation semifinal losses to place fifth at 149 and 197 respectively, clinching NCAA berths in the process. Napoli dropped a 5-2 decision to American’s Ganbayar Sanjaa, but rallied to defeat Daniel Young of Army 6-0 in the fifth place match. Napoli scored takedowns in the first and third periods and added an escape and riding time advantage.
Both of Kennedy’s bouts went into sudden victory. In the consolation semifinals, American’s Daniel Mitchell converted a late score in the overtime period to win 6-4. Sudden victory was kinder to Kennedy in the fifth place match as he funked his way to a deciding takedown to defeat Mike Wagner of Rutgers 5-2.
The fifth wrestler who was slated to compete in the consolation semifinals was junior Brandon Hatchett, but he forfeited both of his bouts to finish in sixth place at 165. Hatchett, the No. 1 seed at 165 will have to wait until Wednesday, when the NCAA announces the at-large selections and brackets, to see if he qualifies for the NCAA Championships.
Junior Sean Bilodeau was the only Mountain Hawk to wrestle for seventh and eighth place and suffered a 5-4 defeat to Bucknell’s Brantley Hooks to finish in eighth place.
Cornell placed six wrestlers in the finals and crowned four champions on the way to its fifth straight team title. The Big Red scored 173.5 points, with Lehigh coming in second with 119. Spots three through five went to Rutgers (116.5), American (106) and Penn (98). Bucknell senior Kevin LeValley, the 149 pound champion, was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler.
Lehigh’s qualifiers will now move on to the NCAA Championships, March 17-19 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
EIWA Finals Results
125 – Frank Perrelli (Cornell) dec. Mark Rappo (Penn) 6-4
133 – Mike Grey (Cornell) med. forfeit Frank Cagnina (Lehigh)
141 – Matt Mariacher (American) dec. Casey Thome (Army) 4-2
149 – Kevin LeValley (Bucknell) dec. Kyle Dake (Cornell) 4-2, s.v. 2
157 – Steve Fittery (American) dec. Bryce Saddoris (Navy) 5-1
165 – Scott Winston (Rutgers) dec. Eren Civan (Columbia) 3-2, t.b.
174 – Mack Lewnes (Cornell) major dec. Matt DeMichiel (Navy) 13-3
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. Steve Bosak (Cornell) 6-5
197 – Cam Simaz (Cornell) dec. Micah Burak (Penn) 1-0
285 – Ryan Flores (American) dec. Zach Rey (Lehigh) 4-2, t.b.
133 – Frank Cagnina – 2nd place
Finals: L by med. forfeit Mike Grey (Cornell)
141 – Stephen Dutton – 4th place
Consolation semifinals: major dec. Corey Manson (Cornell) 13-1
Third place match: L by dec Zack Kemmerer (Penn) 4-2, s.v.
149 – Joey Napoli – 5th place
Consolation semifinals: L by dec. Ganbayar Sanjaa (American) 5-2
Fifth place match: dec. Daniel Young (Army) 6-0
157 – Sean Bilodeau – 8th place
Seventh place match: L by dec. Brantley Hooks (Bucknell) 5-4
165 – Brandon Hatchett – 6th place
Consolation semifinals: med forfeit to Patrick Graham (American)
Fifth place match: med forfeit to Justin Kerber (Cornell)
174 – Austin Meys – 4th place
Consolation semifinals: dec. Scott Giffin (Penn) 10-5
Third place match – med forfeit to Alex Caruso (Rutgers)
184 – Robert Hamlin – 1st place
Finals: dec. Steve Bosak (Cornell) 6-5
197 – Joe Kennedy – 5th place
Consolation semifinals: L by dec. Daniel Mitchell (American) 6-4, s.v.
Fifth place match: dec. Mike Wagner (Rutgers) 3-1 s.v.
285 – Zach Rey – 2nd place
Finals: L by dec. Ryan Flores (American) 4-2, t.b.
Final team scores
1. Cornell 173.5
2. LEHIGH 119
3. Rutgers 116.5
4. American 106
5. Penn 98
6. Navy 81.5
7. Columbia 63
8. Bucknell 59
9. Army 56
10. Harvard 47.5
11. Princeton 42.5
12. F&M 20
13. Brown 3.5