PHILADELPHIA – The Lehigh wrestling team opened up action at the NCAA Championships by winning five of its eight matches Thursday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center. Sophomore Joey Napoli delivered the highlight of session one for Lehigh at 149 as he upset No. 11 seed Andrew Nadhir of Northwestern with a fall from neutral at the 6:00 mark.
After losses to Iowa wrestlers at 133 and 141 Napoli put the Mountain Hawks on the scoreboard for the tournament. Napoli and Nadhir were tied at one in the third period when they entered a scramble situation Napoli was able to position himself well enough to secure the fall from neutral. Napoli will now wrestle the No. 6 seed Jason Chamberlain of Boise State in the round of 16.
At 165, Brandon Hatchett became Lehigh’s second round of 16 wrestler after winning a 6-4 decision over Buffalo’s John-Martin Cannon. Hatchett turned Cannon for a two-point near fall and added a third period takedown plus two escapes. Next up for Hatchett is the defending NCAA Champion and No. 2 seed Andrew Howe from Wisconsin.
EIWA Champion Robert Hamlin was impressive in his first round match, winning a 11-1 major decision over Mike Larson of Missouri at 184. The sophomore totaled four takedowns and led 5-1 after two periods before tacking on a pair of takedowns and a penalty point for stalling against Larson, plus riding time. Hamlin has now defeated Larson four times this season and will now face a familiar foe in Rutgers’ Dan Rinaldi.
Junior Joe Kennedy waited until the final seconds of the third period but a takedown with under ten seconds remaining broke a 1-1 tie and gave him a 3-1 decision over Tyler Dickenson of Michigan State in the opening round at 197. Like Hatchett, Kennedy will also face a No. 2 seed, Clayton Foster of Oklahoma State.
Top-ranked and No. 1 seeded junior heavyweight Zach Rey became the fifth Mountain Hawk to reach the round of 16 with a 6-1 decision over Parker Burns. Rey will now meet David Marone of Virginia Tech Thursday night.
The first Lehigh wrestler on the mats Thursday morning was freshman Frank Cagnina, who scored an early takedown in his match with No. 6 seed Tony Ramos of Iowa. The Hawkeye answered with a takedown late in the second period and was able to ride out to tie the match at four heading to the third. Ramos scored an escape and an insurance takedown in the final period to win 6-3. Cagnina will now wrestle a pigtail consolation against Demetrius Johnson of Chattanooga.
Fellow freshman Stephen Dutton had to contend with defending NCAA runner-up Montell Marion of Iowa at 141.Marion rode two first period takedowns to an 8-3 decision, dropping Dutton to the consolations where he will face Jon Kohler of Maryland.
Lehigh’s eighth qualifier, freshman Austin Meys dropped a 13-5 major decision to Curran Jacobs a 174. Meys will now face former Lehigh teammate Alex Caruso of Rutgers in the consolations.
In the team race, Lehigh finished session one in a tie for eighth with Virginia Tech with 13 points. Penn State is out to an early 20-18 lead over Iowa with Cornell third with 16.5 points.
The NCAA Championships will continue Thursday night with session two, featuring the round of 16 and one round of consolations, set to get underway at 6:30. As always, all of Lehigh’s action at the NCAA Championships can be heard for free at Lehighsports.com.
133 – Tony Ramos (Iowa) dec. Frank Cagnina (Lehigh) 6-3
Round of 32
141 – Montell Marion (Iowa) dec. Stephen Dutton (Lehigh) 8-3
149 – Joey Napoli (Lehigh) pinned Andrew Nadhir (Northwestern) 6-0
165 – Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) dec. John-Martin Cannon (Buffalo) 6-4
174 – Curran Jacobs (Michigan St.) major dec. Austin Meys (Lehigh) 13-5
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) major dec. Mike Larson (Missouri) 11-1
197 – Joe Kennedy (Lehigh) dec. Tyler Dickenson (Michigan St.) 3-1
285 – Zach Rey (Lehigh) dec. Parker Burns (Campbell) 6-1