ST. LOUIS – All three of Lehigh’s returning All-Americans advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals as the Mountain Hawks completed day one of the NCAA Championships Thursday at Scottrade Center. Brandon Hatchett, Robert Hamlin and Zach Rey all remain alive in the championship bracket while four of Lehigh’s other five qualifiers advanced to day two and are alive in the consolations.
Lehigh finished day one with 18 points, which ties the Mountain Hawks with Nebraska and Northwestern for ninth place.
“Like in a lot of tournaments there were a lot of ups and downs,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “We wrestled a lot better tonight. We got into the flow of the tournament. This morning I’m not sure if we were quite ready. There’s a lot of wrestling left. Tomorrow we need to come out hard win some in the wrestle backs and try to win those three in the quarters that would make a big difference.”
Hatchett was the first Mountain Hawk on the mats in Thursday’s evening session and won a 4-2 decision over Dallas Bailey of Oklahoma State at 165. Hatchett scored an early takedown and proceeded to ride Bailey for most of the first and second periods to earn the victory. He moves on to face No. 3 seed Andrew Sorenson of Iowa State in the quarterfinals.
Hamlin followed up that performance with an 8-3 win over Tony Dallago of Illinois at 184. The No. 2 seed, Hamlin built an early 4-1 first period lead with two takedowns off of low single leg shots. He added an insurance takedown in the third period to advance to the quarterfinals, where No. 7 seed Josh Ihnen of Nebraska awaits.
Rey advanced to the quarterfinals for the fourth straight year, winning a 2-1 decision over Brandon Williamson of West Virginia. A 1:02 riding time advantage proved to be the deciding factor after Rey and Williamson traded escapes in the second and third periods. Rey, the No. 4 seed at heavyweight and defending NCAA champion, will face fifth-seed Bobby Telford of Iowa Friday morning.
“It was a tight match but Zach wrestled a lot better tonight,” Santoro said. “It’s about chasing the title and trying to get another one. Nobody is going to roll over for him, he has to go out and earn it. He was moving well tonight. He wrestled with more emotion and did a great job on top.”
Senior Joe Kennedy was the only Mountain Hawk knocked out of the championship bracket Thursday evening as he dropped a 5-2 decision to Cayle Byers of Oklahoma State. Kennedy will now face Keldrick Hall of Oklahoma in the second round of consolations.
Three of the four Mountain Hawks who lost their first round matches bounced back with wins in the first round of consolations to advance to the second day of competition. Freshman Mason Beckman and sophomore Steve Dutton also provided bonus points with major decision wins at 133 and 141 respectively.
Beckman scored an early takedown and three-point near fall off a two-on-one tilt and added another takedown to lead Garrett Drucker of Oregon State 7-1 after one period. Beckman went on to an 11-1 major decision as he will face Zach Horan of Central Michigan on Friday morning.
Dutton won a 13-4 major decision over Mike Morales of West Virginia, breaking the match open with a three-point near fall in the second period before adding a pair of takedowns in the third. He will now face No. 8 seed Darius Little of NC State.
Senior Brian Tanen also advanced to the second round of consolations, using a first period takedown and close to three minutes of riding time to defeat Dan Waddell of Chattanooga 4-1. He will next face Josh Kreimier of Air Force.
Junior Shane Welsh was the only Lehigh wrestler eliminated on Thursday, after dropping a 6-1 decision to No. 10 seed Cam Tessari of Ohio State at 149. Welsh, the EIWA Champion at 149, sees his season come to an end at 23-7.
“Those bonus points were huge,” Santoro said of Beckman and Dutton’s wins. “Tanen came up big as well. Shane wrestled well but ran into two tough kids. He had a good year overall and his best wrestling is still ahead of him.”
Defending champion Penn State placed seven wrestlers in the quarterfinals and continues to lead the team race with 38.5 points. Minnesota is second with 33, while Cornell is in third place with 27.5..
The 2012 NCAA Championships continue Friday at 10 a.m. CT with the championship quarterfinals and two rounds of consolations from Scottrade Center. The quarterfinals will be televised live on ESPNU while all of Lehigh’s matches can be heard for free at Lehighsports.com.
Round of 16
165 – Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) dec. Dallas Bailey (Oklahoma State) 4-2
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. Tony Dallago (Illinois) 8-3
197 – Cayle Byers (Oklahoma State) dec. Joe Kennedy (Lehigh) 5-2
285 – Zach Rey (Lehigh) dec. Brandon Williamson (West Virginia) 2-1
First round consolations
133 – Mason Beckman (Lehigh) major dec. Garrett Drucker (Oregon State) 11-1
141 – Steve Dutton (Lehigh) major dec. Mike Morales (West Virginia) 13-4
149 – Cam Tessari (Ohio State) dec. Shane Welsh (Lehigh) 6-1
157 – Brian Tanen (Lehigh) dec. Dan Waddell (Chattanooga) 4-1