UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Junior Joey Napoli upset second ranked Dylan Alton at 157 but two-time defending national champion and No. 2 ranked Penn State won eight of the first nine bouts en route to a 29-6 win over No. 21 Lehigh Friday night at Rec Hall. The Mountain Hawks were competitive in several other matches, losing four by a combined seven points, as they fall to 1-1 on the season.
Freshman heavyweight Jack Delia delivered Lehigh’s other win with a 5-3 decision over Jon Gingrich at heavyweight capping the 101st meeting between the longtime Eastern rivals.
With Lehigh trailing 14-0 after four bouts Napoli rebounded from an early 2-0 hole to defeat Alton to put the Mountain Hawks on the scoreboard. Alton scored late in the first period and was able to ride out to lead 2-0 after one. Napoli chose bottom in the second and escaped to cut the deficit to one, then added a takedown of his own and rode out to lead 3-2 going to the third. He stayed tough on top, keeping Alton down for the entire period while building up riding time for the fourth point.
“(Joey) wants to be a national champion,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “He knows he has a lot of work to do and he’s going to continue to work. He keeps wrestling and when you keep wrestling good things happen.”
Penn State (1-0) started fast as national finalist Nico Megaludis won by technical fall over junior Alex Abreu at 125. The Nittany Lions also benefitted from third-period takedowns to win one point decisions in the bouts at 133 and 141. First, Jordan Conaway scored a late takedown to break a 1-1 tie in a 3-2 decision over freshman Laike Gardner. Sophomore Anthony Salupo scored early against Bryan Pearsall at 141 but Pearsall rallied with a takedown in the second. A third period escape tied the bout at four and Pearsall added a go-ahead takedown to go up 6-4. Pearsall was able to build up a riding time advantage, which proved to be decisive as Salupo added two more points with an escape and a penalty point for Pearsall stalling.
At 149, the Nittany Lions sent out senior James English in place of No. 10 Andrew Alton but senior Shane Welsh was unable to capitalize. English broke a 1-1 tie with a third period takedown, and added a second score countering a desperation takedown attempt from Welsh to win 5-2.
“The fight just wasn’t there like last week,” Santoro explained. “We were tentative at 133 and 149. Laike is usually a goer. He usually shoots three or four times per minute. He’ll learn from that. He’s a competitor.
He wants to be great and he’ll make adjustments.
The Nittany Lions benefitted from back-to-back bonus wins after intermission to grow their lead to 23-3. National champion David Taylor was impressive in a 20-5 technical fall win over freshman Eric Hess at 165, while Matt Brown worked a 12-2 major decision over sophomore Nathaniel Brown at 174.
The most anticipated bout of the evening matched returning 174-pound national champion Ed Ruth up at his new weight class against senior Robert Hamlin at 184. Ruth started strong with three first period takedowns and then a fourth early in the second to build a 9-3 lead before Hamlin stormed back with two takedowns of his own to trail 11-8 after two periods. Hamlin escaped to open the third, but despite a pair of quality shot attempts was unable to register a tying takedown as Ruth prevailed 11-9.
“Robert just wrestled the whole time,” Santoro said. “He kept fighting but gave up too much too early. If you want to win a national championship you can’t start off tentative and wait for the third period. You have to get the motor going in the first period. Both guys were scoring points which is what you want to see. That was the match of the night in terms of the action.”
At 197 Penn State’s Quentin Wright overcame a slow start to defeat freshman John Bolich 10-4. In the final bout of the dual, Delia moved to 2-0 on the young season scoring takedowns in the first and third periods in his win over Gingrich.
The Mountain Hawks will wrap-up their first road trip of the season on Saturday when they travel to Bloomsburg for a 2 p.m. match.
Penn State 29, Lehigh 6
125 – Nico Megaludis (PSU) tech fall Alex Abreu (LU) 19-4, 5:07
133 – Jordan Conaway (PSU) dec. Laike Gardner (LU) 3-2
141 – Bryan Pearsall (PSU) dec. Anthony Salupo (LU) 7-6
149 – James English (PSU) dec. Shane Welsh (LU) 5-2
157 – Joey Napoli (LU) dec. Dylan Alton (PSU) 4-2
165 – David Taylor (PSU) tech fall Eric Hess (LU) 20-5, 5:46
174 – Matt Brown (PSU) major dec. Nathaniel Brown (LU) 12-2
184 – Ed Ruth (PSU) dec. Robert Hamlin (LU) 11-9
197 – Quentin Wright (PSU) dec. John Bolich (LU) 10-4
285 – Jack Delia (LU) dec. Jon Gingrich (PSU) 5-3
Referees – Gary Kessel, Anthony Zullo
Attendance – 6,422