PRINCETON, N.J. – With its three returning All-Americans leading the charge, Lehigh advanced four wrestlers to the finals of the 108th EIWA Championships, capping a strong performance on day one at Princeton’s Jadwin Gym. Senior Brandon Hatchett, junior Robert Hamlin and senior Zach Rey are joined in the finals by upstart junior Shane Welsh, who advanced to the finals at 149 from the No. 6 seed.
The Mountain Hawks are locked in a tight team race with five-time defending champion Cornell, who surged ahead of Lehigh in the semifinals to take a 136.5-119 lead. Lehigh placed all ten of its entrants in the top eight and had eight semifinalists, going 4-4 in that round, while Cornell also placed all ten. The Big Red had just six semifinalists, but advanced five men to Sunday’s finals.
“We wrestled well today, there’s no question,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “We wanted to put as many guys in the finals as possible. We got four, we would have liked to get six or seven, but we’ll need guys to come back strong tomorrow and wrestle hard for third.”
Welsh delivered the biggest upset of the day for the Mountain Hawks, following up a first round win by fall with a 4-2 tiebreaker decision over No. 3 seed Chris Villalonga of Cornell in the quarterfinals. Tied 2-2 at the end of regulation and a scoreless sudden victory period, Welsh rode out Villalonga in the first tiebreak period, and then secured a reversal on the edge in the second 30 second tiebreak. Welsh then advanced to the finals with a win by medical forfeit over Harvard’s Corey Jantzen. He will face the No. 8 seed, Kevin Tao of American in the finals.
“That’s one we we’ve been circling for a while,” Santoro said of Welsh’s win over Villalonga. “Shane has wrestled well all year. He did everything he needed to do and now tomorrow he has a chance to win an EIWA title.”
Hatchett went 3-0 on the opening day to reach the finals at 165 for the second time in three years. After winning his first bout by major decision, Hatchett secured back-to-back decisions, including a 4-1 win over Corey Lear of Bucknell in the semifinals. He will face Scott Winston of Rutgers in the finals.
The defending champion at 184, Hamlin went 3-0 with two decisions and a quarterfinal pin over Michael Gorman of Army. A penalty point for stalling was the decisive score in his 2-1, semifinal win over Navy’s Luke Rebertus. Hamlin will face Steve Bosak of Cornell in a rematch of last year’s EIWA finals. Hamlin has won three of the previous four meetings with Bosak with the Big Red’s lone win coming two months ago.
Rey became a four time EIWA finalist with a pair of falls on Saturday. After earning a first round bye, the defending NCAA Champion stuck Dan Hopkins of Rutgers in 1:36 and then broke open a close bout with Penn’s Steve Graziano in the third period before securing the fall at the 6:42 mark.
Four others Mountain Hawks fell in semifinal bouts.
At 133 freshman Mason Beckman fell 4-1 to Penn’s Bryan Ortenzio after winning his first two bouts by decision. Beckman will have a rematch with Columbia’s Kyle Gilchrist, who he beat in the first round 3-0, in the consolation semis.
Sophomore Steve Dutton was mere seconds from the finals at 141, but Cornell’s Mike Nevinger scored a takedown with less than five seconds remaining to stun Dutton 6-5. Dutton will next face Richard Durso of Franklin & Marshall.
Lehigh’s other true freshman, Nate Brown, suffered a 3-1 sudden-victory semifinal loss to Brown’s Dave Foxen at 174. Brown fell one second shy of maintaining riding time in the third period and gave up the decisive takedown early in the overtime period. Next up for Brown is Cornell’s Billy George.
After an opening round major decision, senior Joe Kennedy struggled to find his offense, needing a late escape and takedown to top Harvard’s James Fox 4-2 in the tiebreakers in the quarters. In the semis, Kennedy and Penn’s Micah Burak traded escapes, but Burak eclipsed the one minute riding time threshold and won 2-1. Kennedy will next face arch nemesis Daniel Mitchell of American.
Senior Brian Tanen rebounded from an opening round loss to qualify for his first NCAA tournament at 157. After losing his opening round bout to Harvard’s Walter Peppelman, Tanen met Navy’s Bobby Barnhisel in the second round of consolations. Down by three in the third period, Tanen rallied to secure two takedowns, forcing sudden victory where he picked up another takedown to win 9-7. In his next match, he used a penalty point for an illegal head scissors plus two escapes to edge Bucknell’s John Regan 3-2, guaranteeing sixth place at worst in a weight were the EIWA qualifies its top six automatically for the NCAA championships.
“Brian has been through a lot,” Santoro said. “He wrestled sick for much of the second semester. He finally had some time off and made the most of it today. He was able to turn some losses around and qualify for nationals which was outstanding to see.”
All four of Lehigh’s finalists, plus Tanen and Dutton secured NCAA tournament berths on Saturday. Tanen will face No. 2 seed Ganbayar Sanjaa of American in the consolation semifinals.
At 125, sophomore Alex Abreu rallied from a loss by fall in the opening round to pin Rutgers’ Vincent Dellafave from the neutral position in the third period to earn a spot in the top eight. Abreu dropped his next bout to Navy’s Tyler Sackett, but will wrestle for seventh place on Sunday against Army’s Scott Filbert.
The 108th EIWA Championships continue on Sunday from Princeton’s Jadwin Gym. Session three, featuring the consolation semifinals and placement matches, is set for 10 a.m., while the championship finals will begin at 3 p.m. The finals will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as online at Lehighsports.com.
125 – Alex Abreu
First round: L by Fall Thomas Williams (American) 1:06
Second round consolation: Fall Vinnie Dellafave (Rutgers) 6:04
Consolation quarterfinals: L by major dec. Tyler Sackett (Navy) 8-0
7th place match: vs. Scott Filbert (Army)
133 – Mason Beckman
First round: dec. Kyle Gilchrist (Columbia) 3-0
Quarterfinals: dec. Jordan Thome (Army) 2-0
Semifinals: L by dec. Bryan Ortenzio (Penn) 4-1
Consolation semifinals: vs. Kyle Gilchrist (Columbia)
141 – Steve Dutton
First round: tech fall Zach Tanenbaum (Brown) 16-0, 5:39
Quarterfinals: dec. Billy Ashnault (Rutgers) 6-3
Semifinals: L by dec. Mike Nevinger (Cornell) 6-5
Consolation semifinals: vs. Richard Durso (F&M)
149 – Shane Welsh
First round: Fall Justin Belanger (Sacred Heart) 6:19
Quarterfinals: dec. Chris Villalonga (Cornell) 4-2, t.b.
Semifinals: W by medical forfeit Corey Jantzen (Harvard)
Finals: vs. Kevin Tao (American)
157 – Brian Tanen
First round: L by major dec. Walter Peppelman (Harvard) 11-0
Second round consolations: dec. Bobby Barnhisel (Navy) 9-7, s.v.
Consolation quarterfinals: dec. John Regan (Bucknell) 3-2
Consolation semifinals: vs. Ganbayar Sanjaa (American)
165 – Brandon Hatchett
First round: major dec. Jeff Lemmer (Brown) 17-7
Quarterfinals: dec. Mason Bailey (Navy) 8-1
Semifinals: dec. Corey Lear (Bucknell) 4-1
Finals: vs. Scott Winston (Rutgers)
174 – Nate Brown
Quarterfinals: dec. Matt Fullowan (F&M) 2-1
Semifinals: L by dec. Dave Foxen (Brown) 3-1, s.v.
Consolation semifinals: Billy George (Cornell)
184 – Robert Hamlin
First round: dec. Erich Smith (Penn) 7-1
Quarterfinals: Fall Michael Gorman (Army) 2:53
Semifinals: dec. Luke Rebertus (Navy) 2-1
Finals: vs. Steve Bosak (Cornell)
197 – Joe Kennedy
First round: major dec. Tyler Lyster (Bucknell) 11-3
Quarterfinals: dec. James Fox (Harvard) 4-2, t.b.
Semifinals: L by dec. Micah Burak (Penn) 2-1
Consolation semifinals: vs. Daniel Mitchell (American)
285 – Zach Rey
Quarterfinals: Fall Dan Hopkins (Rutgers) 1:36
Semifinals: Fall Steve Graziano (Penn) 6:42
Finals: vs. Ryan Flores (American)
Team scores through day one
1. Cornell 136.5
2. Lehigh 119
3. American 88.5
4. Penn 81
5. Navy 79.5
6. Columbia 60.5
7. Rutgers 59
8. Harvard 53.5
9. Army 44
10. Princeton 39.5
11. Brown 37
12. F&M 27
13. Bucknell 22
14. Sacred Heart 6