BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The sixth-ranked wrestling team battled back from a 15-0 deficit at intermission but Matt Wilps’ come-from-behind win over senior Joe Kennedy at 197 clinched what became an 18-16 victory for No. 17 Pittsburgh Saturday night inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. The Mountain Hawks received bonus point wins from junior Robert Hamlin and senior Zach Rey, but Lehigh’s 26 match home winning streak comes to an end.
Lehigh (0-1) made its best efforts at a comeback, winning four of the final five bouts and coming up just short in the other.
Senior Brandon Hatchett put the Mountain Hawks on the board in the first bout following intermission, defeating Tyler Wilps 7-4 at 165. Freshman Nate Brown was next up against P.J. Tasser in a rematch from the semifinals of last week’s UB Open, won by Tasser 3-2. On Saturday it was Brown scoring a first period takedown on a pancake move. Tasser reversed to open the second period but Brown escaped to take the lead and added a third period escape while battling a bloody nose to hold on for the 4-3 win.
Hamlin was dominant in his win over Andy Vaughan at 184, racking up seven takedowns and a reversal in an 18-6 major decision, which pulled Lehigh within 15-10 with two bouts remaining.
Kennedy and Wilps met a week before with Wilps pulling out a one-point victory in the tiebreakers. Tied 1-1 early in the third Kennedy took the lead with a takedown, but following a stall warning on Kennedy and a Wilps escape, the Panther struck late in the period, controlling Kennedy’s ankles for the winning takedown, and then preventing an escape in his 4-3 win which clinched the match for Pittsburgh (1-0).
“We knew going in it could come down to that match,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “We knew it would be big. Joe wrestled a great match, but he took that stall call that he didn’t need. He’ll learn from that but it cost us. Those two guys will probable get together a few more times. Joe has to find a way to win that match.”
Rey ended things quickly in his bout at heavyweight, taking down Joel Yahner off the opening whistle and eventually working him over for the fall in just 1:01.
Pitt raced to an early 6-0 lead as Anthony Zanetta and Shelton Mack won decisions over true freshmen Mason Beckman and Chris Dinnien at 125 and 133 respectively. With sophomore Stephen Dutton out of the lineup, junior Alex Abreu bumped up to 141 and hung in there with Travis Shaffer, but Shaffer mustered a third period escape and a late takedown to win 3-0.
At 149 senior Kyle Rosser gave third-ranked Tyler Nauman all he could handle. Rosser scored the opening takedown and reversed Nauman in the second period to lead 5-4, but the Panther battled back with a third period score and held off Rosser 7-6 to give Pittsburgh a 12-0 lead.
“A lot of guys wrestled much better than last week,” Santoro said. “Kyle Rosser was in position to win his match against a guy who beat him by seven points last week. Brown turned his result around and did some good things. Abreu did an awesome job. He was in a position to win that match. He just over attacked at the end.”
The lead grew to 15-0 at intermission as Donnie Tasser scored a pair of third period takedowns to defeat junior Shane Welsh 6-2 at 157.
The loss was the first at home for Lehigh under Santoro. The last team to defeat Lehigh at Grace Hall was Hofstra back in February, 2008.
“We’ve got a lot of room to improve,” Santoro concluded. “We have to have the mindset to go out and attack. The matches we lost tonight we didn’t do that.”
The Mountain Hawks will look to rebound next weekend when they host a tri-match with Illinois and Clarion on Sunday November 20 inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Lehigh will face Illinois at noon and Clarion at 4 p.m. with Illinois and Clarion meeting at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME or by logging on to Lehighsports.com.
Pittsburgh 18 Lehigh 16
125 – Anthony Zanetta (Pitt) dec. Mason Beckman (Lehigh) 9-2
133 – Shelton Mack (Pitt) dec. Chris Dinnien (Lehigh) 10-5
141 – Travis Shaffer (Pitt) dec. Alex Abreu (Lehigh) 3-0
149 – Tyler Nauman (Pitt) dec. Kyle Rosser (Lehigh) 7-6
157 – Donnie Tasser (Pitt) dec. Shane Welsh (Lehigh) 6-2
165 – Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) dec. Tyler Wilps (Pitt) 7-4
174 – Nate Brown (Lehigh) dec. P.J. Tasser (Pitt) 4-3
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) major dec. Andy Vaughan (Pitt) 18-6
197 – Matt Wilps (Pitt) dec. Joe Kennedy (Lehigh) 4-3
285 – Zach Rey (Lehigh) pinned Joel Yahner (Pitt) 1:01
Attendance – 1,506
Referee – George Chilmonik
Homepage photo by Leah Kulp ’12. Inside photo by Brooke Zumas.