BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh fans enjoyed their first look at the Mountain Hawks 2011-12 wrestling team with the annual Brown and White wrestle-offs in front of 1,173 fans Thursday inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Nine bouts were contested on the evening, including three exhibitions, as the Mountain Hawks showcased their talents, but also showed that there is plenty of room for improvement leading into the start of the season.
“It was wrestle-offs, which are always tough,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “A few guys were really tentative. Some guys were great and were really aggressive, but on the whole we need to get a lot more aggressive. It was good to get the guys down to weight to wrestle off. We’ll make some adjustments into next week and some guys will get the nerves under control a little bit better.”
The evening began with a matchup between junior Alex Abreu and freshman Chris Dinnien at 133. Abreu was the early aggressor, scoring takedowns in each of the first two periods, before Dinnien reversed near the end of the second period tied at four. Choosing neutral to start the third period, Abreu converted his third takedown of the bout and secured riding time to win 7-5.
Sophomore Steve Dutton provided the only bonus point win of the night, earning an 18-3 technical fall over Jim Carucci at the 5:44 mark at 141.
At 149, the main bout matched a pair of veterans in senior Kyle Rosser and junior Shane Welsh. In a match that featured several good scrambles, and some impressive funk from Welsh, it was Rosser who scored takedowns in each of the first two periods and two more in the third to win 9-3.
Freshman Anthony Salupo, a 149 pounder coming off a deferred year, took on 157-pounder Cal Stack in an exhibition. Stack used his weight advantage to keep things early close, but Salupo scored two third period takedowns to grab an 8-3 victory.
With senior Sean Bilodeau still working his way down to 157, senior Brian Tanen and freshman Eric Hess battled in the main bout at the weight class. Hess converted a low single leg takedown to lead 2-0 after one period but that would be the only scoring of the bout as the second period featured no points, and then Tanen erased a two minute-plus riding time advantage by riding out the third to give Hess the 2-0 win.
Junior Joey Napoli is expected to defer his eligibility while he moves up from 149 to 157 and in an exhibition bout at his new weight, Napoli earned a 12-5 decision over Dillon Smith.
The next bout was scheduled to put a pair of true freshmen as 174-pounder Nate Brown was to meet 184-pounder John Bolich. By late afternoon, it was learned Bolich was a late scratch due to illness, so Bilodeau stepped in to wrestle Brown. Despite giving up some size the bulked-up Bilodeau converted a third period takedown and added riding time to win 3-1.
At 197 seniors Joe Kennedy and Kadeem Samuels locked horns in what was expected to be one of the night’s most competitive bouts. Both wrestlers kept the scoring low, but it was Kennedy who mustered a takedown in the third period to win 3-1 with a riding time advantage just over one minute.
In the final bout of the night, NCAA heavyweight champion Zach Rey met freshman Jack Delia. The freshman did not back down, but Rey totaled four takedowns, including two in the final period and went on to win 10-3.
“On the whole, we had some guys who did some great things,” Santoro said. “But we had a lot of people who didn’t open up. For a few guys it was their first time wrestling in Grace Hall.”
The Mountain Hawks will open the 2011-12 season November 6 at the Buffalo Open in Buffalo, N.Y. Lehigh is expected to enter 15-20 wrestlers in the open tournament. The dual meet opener against Pittsburgh is set for November 12 at 7 p.m. inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by visiting the Lehigh ticket office, located in Grace Hall or by logging on to Lehighsports.com.
133 – Alex Abreu (White) dec. Chris Dinnien (Brown) 7-5
141 – Steve Dutton (Brown) tech. fall Jim Carucci (White) 18-3, 5:44
149 – Kyle Rosser (White) dec. Shane Welsh (Brown) 9-3
Ex – Anthony Salupo (White) dec. Cal Stack (Brown) 8-3
157 – Eric Hess (White) dec. Brian Tanen (Brown) 2-0
Ex – Joey Napoli (Brown) dec. Dillon Smith (White) 12-5
Ex – Sean Bilodeau (White) dec. Nate Brown (Brown) 3-1
197 – Joe Kennedy (Brown) dec. Kadeem Samuels (White) 3-1
285 – Zach Rey (Brown) dec. Jack Delia (White) 10-3
Attendance – 1,173
Referee – Jake Llewellyn