PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Three Lehigh wrestlers will compete for EIWA titles on Saturday as day one of the 109th EIWA Championships wrapped up Friday night at the RAC. Freshman Randy Cruz, junior Joey Napoli and sophomore Nathaniel Brown won semifinal bouts, with Cruz and Napoli winning by fall as the Mountain Hawks sit in fourth place with 82.5 points after one day of competition.
All three of Lehigh’s finalists earned automatic berths to the NCAA Championships, while sophomore Anthony Salupo also punched his ticket to nationals by guaranteeing a top six finish at 141.
Senior Robert Hamlin was denied in his bid for a third straight EIWA title as he defaulted due to injury in the first period of his semifinal bout with Navy’s Mason Bailey. Both Hamlin and fellow team captain Shane Welsh have forfeited out of the tournament and will have to await at-large bids to the NCAA Championships when they are announced next week.
“We would have liked some more wins but 149 and 184 were tough,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “It’s hard when you lose two workhorses like that from your lineup. We want to try and get those guys healthy and ready for the NCAA tournament.”
Cruz posted his second fall of the tournament to move into the finals at 133. He locked up a cradle late in the first period against Bucknell’s Paul Petrov and brought the Bison to his back for the fall in 2:51. Cruz, the No. 2 seed, will meet upstart No. 8 seed Matt Bystol of Columbia in the finals.
“He keeps wrestling and finds opportunities,” Santoro said of Cruz. “He keeps creating opportunities and is going to have to do it again tomorrow against a tough wrestler in Bystol who I think is underrated and under-seeded.”
Napoli also capitalized on a cradle to move into the finals with a pin as he stuck Navy’s Bobby Barnhisel at the 6:06 mark. The No. 2 seed at 157, Napoli scored a reversal to take a 4-2 lead before locking up the cradle and putting Barnhisel to his back. He will face Walter Peppelman of Harvard on Saturday.
“Joey just keeps battling,” Santoro said. “Like Robert (Hamlin) he just keeps fighting. He just keeps going, looking to score points. Instead of being content just winning he went for the kill and that’s what you like to see in the postseason.”
Brown made Lehigh 3-for-3 in semifinals bouts with a 3-1 decision over Penn’s Ian Korb. The top seed at 174, Brown broke a 1-1 tie with a takedown with 1:15 remaining in the third and rode out the remainder of the bout. Brown’s finals opponent will be Navy freshman Mat Miller, the No. 2 seed.
Hamlin defaulted out of his match against Bailey after aggravating an injury suffered in practice leading up to the championships. Bailey led 4-1 at the time of the stoppage.
Lehigh’s fifth semifinalist was freshman John Bolich, who fell 3-1 to Penn’s top seeded Micah Burak at 197. Bolich will face Cornell’s Jace Bennett in the consolation semifinals and will clinch a NCAA tournament berth with a victory in that bout.
Four Mountain Hawks competed in Friday night’s consolation rounds. Salupo earned a spot in the top eight with a 9-5 win over John Boyle of American, then defeated Army’s Connor Hanafee to assure himself a spot in the top six. The EIWA was awarded seven automatic berths at 141. Salupo will face Cornell’s top seed Mike Nevinger in Saturday morning’s consolation semifinals.
Freshman Max Wessell became the seventh Mountain Hawk to place in the top eight after posting a 16-5 major decision over Chris Manna of Columbia. Wessell dropped his next match 4-0 to Stryker Lane of Cornell, and will wrestle for seventh place against David Ng of Harvard.
Senior Alex Abreu and freshman Ben Haas were eliminated in the second round of consolations as their seasons came to an end.
Cornell has reclaimed the team lead with 109.5 points after Navy led following Friday’s afternoon session. The Midshipmen are second with 94 points while Penn is third with 91.5. Lehigh leads host Rutgers for eight points for fourth.
The 109th EIWA Championships continue Saturday with session three, featuring consolation semifinals and seventh place matches beginning at 10 a.m. The final session with first, third and fifth place matches will begin at 3 p.m. with audio coverage at Lehighsports.com.
125 – Alex Abreu
Second round consolation: L by dec. Patrick Prada (Navy) 4-2
133 – Randy Cruz
Semifinals: Fall Paul Petrov (Bucknell) 2:51
Finals: vs. Matt Bystol (Columbia)
141 – Anthony Salupo
Second round consolation: dec. John Boyle (American) 9-5
Consolation quarterfinal: dec. Connor Hanafee (Army) 6-4
Consolation semifinal: vs. Mike Nevinger (Cornell)
149 – Shane Welsh
Second round consolation: Medical forfeit
157 – Joey Napoli
Semifinals: Fall Bobby Barnhisel (Navy) 6:06
Finals vs. Walter Peppelman (Harvard)
165 – Ben Haas
Second round consolation: L by major dec. Phillip Barreiro (American) 17-8
174 – Nathaniel Brown
Semifinals: dec. Ian Korb (Penn) 3-1
Finals: vs. Mat Miller (Navy)
184 – Robert Hamlin
Semifinals: L by inj. default Mason Bailey (Navy) 2:12
Consolation semifinals: Medical forfeit
197 – John Bolich
Semifinals: L by dec. Micah Burak (Penn) 4-0
Consolation semifinals: vs. Jace Bennett (Cornell)
285 – Max Wessell
Second round consolations: major dec. Chris Manna (Columbia) 16-5
Consolation quarterfinal: L by dec. Stryker Lane (Cornell) 4-0
Seventh place match:
1. Cornell 109.5
2. Navy 94
3. Penn 91.5
4. LEHIGH 82.5
5. Rutgers 74.5
6. Harvard 72
7. Columbia 67.5
8. Army 64
9. American 49.5
10. Bucknell 39.5
11. Brown 33.5
12. Princeton 23.5
13. F&M 17.5
14. Sac. Heart 0