IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Lehigh wrestling team visited Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the first time since 2002, but the host Hawkeyes greeted the Mountain Hawks rudely, as No. 5 Iowa raced to a 23-0 lead en route to a 26-9 win over No. 23 Lehigh on Thursday. The Hawkeyes won the first six bouts and seven of the ten matches overall.
Lehigh’s nine team points came on three straight wins from sophomore Nathaniel Brown, senior Robert Hamlin and freshman John Bolich at 174 through 197. The Mountain Hawks fell to 3-3 with the setback while Iowa improves to 7-0.
“They were controlling the hand fighting,” explained Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “We were reacting more to what they were doing to us instead of getting our offense going. Iowa is probably the best hand fighting team in the country and we got out hand fought. In the second half of the dual we made some adjustments.
Santoro continued, “I think the team is going to learn a lot of what we need to do in these last two and a half months. We need to fight hard on our feet, especially early on. We have to close periods out and close matches and hopefully we’ll have that figured out by Midlands.”
Brown delivered Lehigh’s first win of the day with a 3-2 decision over Grant Gambrall at 174. The match was tied 1-1 in the third period when Brown came out on top after a mini scramble for the only takedown of the bout with just under a minute remaining.
Hamlin then followed with a 9-4 decision over eighth-ranked Ethen Lofthouse in a battle of top ten wrestlers at 184. Hamlin opened the scoring with a takedown and then showcased strong defensive skills to thwart a Lofthouse takedown attempt in the final half minute of the first period. Hamlin added a takedown in the second period plus two more in the third as he improves to 4-1 on the season.
Bolich closed out the Mountain Hawk run with a 3-2 decision over Nathan Burak at 197. Bolich rode out the second period and with two third period escapes, a 1:31 riding time advantage proved to be the difference.
“John worked a lot on some simple things this week,” Santoro said. “He worked a lot on some simple things, especially about his positioning. He did a really nice job overall and a good job hand fighting against Burak.”
Iowa raced to a 23-0 lead with wins in the first six bouts. The Hawkeyes scored bonus points in the first three weight classes as top-ranked Matt McDonough opened with a first period pin over junior Alex Abreu at 125, No. 2 Tony Ramos won a 12-3 major decision over freshman Cody Kievman at 133 and Mark Ballweg won a 15-5 major decision over sophomore Anthony Salupo at 141.
Like Salupo, senior Shane Welsh scored the first takedown in his match with Michael Kelly, but the Hawkeye benefitted from a four-point first period move to rally for a 9-4 win.
At 157, fourth-ranked junior Joey Napoli met top-ranked Derek St. John. The returning NCAA finalist recorded takedowns in each of the first two periods to hand Napoli his first loss of the season 6-0.
Iowa’s lead reached 23-0 as Nick Moore downed freshman Eric Hess 7-4 at 165. Following the three consecutive Lehigh wins, Hawkeye heavyweight Bobby Telford closed the dual with a convincing 11-4 decision over freshman Jack Delia.
“Iowa’s a good team,” Santoro said. “They did a nice job today; hats off to their coaching staff. We know we have to get better but today was a good test for us.”
The Mountain Hawks will now take time off for final exams and will return to action at the 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships, December 29-30 in Evanston, Illinois. Lehigh’s next dual will be on Sunday January 6, when the Mountain Hawks welcome EIWA rival Cornell to Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall for a 2 p.m. match.
Iowa 26, Lehigh 9
125 – Matt McDonough (Iowa) pinned Alex Abreu (Lehigh) 2:05
133 – Tony Ramos (Iowa) major dec. Cody Kievman (Lehigh) 12-3
141 – Mark Ballweg (Iowa) major dec. Anthony Salupo (Lehigh) 15-5
149 – Michael Kelly (Iowa) dec. Shane Welsh (Lehigh) 9-4
157 – Derek St. John (Iowa) dec. Joey Napoli (Lehigh) 6-0
165 – Nick Moore (Iowa) dec. Eric Hess (Lehigh) 7-4
174 – Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) dec. Grant Gambrall (Iowa) 3-2
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa) 9-4
197 – John Bolich (Lehigh) dec. Nathan Burak (Iowa) 3-2
285 – Bobby Telford (Iowa) dec. Jack Delia (Lehigh) 11-4
Referees – Keith Poolman, Mike Exline
Attendance – 5,326