DES MOINES, Iowa – Lehigh senior Robert Hamlin won a 6-3 decision over Dan Rinaldi of Rutgers to reach the quarterfinals for the third straight year as the Mountain Hawks wrapped-up day one of the NCAA Championships Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena. Freshman Randy Cruz and sophomore Nathaniel Brown joined Hamlin in advancing to Friday’s second day of action.
Hamlin improved to 7-0 all-time versus Rinaldi as he scored takedowns on low double leg shots in each of the first period. He added a third period escape and a penalty point for stalling, compared to just three escapes for Rinaldi. The No. 3 seed at 184, Hamlin will face No. 6 Ryan Loder of UNI in the quarterfinals. With one more win on Friday, Hamlin will become Lehigh’s 16th three-time All-American.
“Robert did a nice job,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “It was nice for him to get that first match out of the way. Some guys really struggled this morning. Nate admitted he couldn’t control his nerves, but he looked much better tonight.”
Cruz put forth a strong effort against No. 3 seed Tyler Graff of Wisconsin in the round of 16 but ultimately fell 3-0. After a scoreless first period, Graff rode out Cruz in the second, and while the Lehigh freshman nearly turned Graff in the third, Graff reversed and added a point for riding time advantage. Cruz will now face Michigan’s Rossi Bruno in a second round consolation at 133.
“He had an opportunity and almost turned him,” Santoro said of Cruz’ round of 16 match. “That was the difference in the match. He’s got a tough road tomorrow. Today is over. We need to learn from what happened today. Tomorrow is all about winning the next match.”
Brown overcame an upset loss in Thursday’s morning session to edge Greg Zannetti of Rutgers 2-1 in the tiebreakers to stay alive at 174. The wrestlers traded escapes in regulation and after a scoreless sudden victory period Brown escaped in the first 30 second tiebreaker and rode out Zannetti to survive and advance. Brown, who picked up his first career win in three tries over Zannetti, will now face No. 7 seed Jordan Blanton of Illinois in the consolations. Brown defeated Zannetti 3-2 in the Midlands quarterfinals in December.
The NCAA Championships and 2012-13 season came to an end for sophomore Anthony Salupo and junior Joey Napoli who were both eliminated with losses in Thursday’s evening session. Salupo fell 6-3 to 11th seeded Mike Nevinger at 141, while Napoli dropped a 7-1 decision to Danny Zilverberg of Minnesota. Salupo’s season ends at 13-11 while Napoli, who lost just twice this season entering Thursday’s action, saw his junior year come to an end at 18-4.
As a team, Lehigh remains tied for 31st place with 4.5 points. Two-time defending champion Penn State holds a 3.5 point lead over Oklahoma State, with Minnesota, Iowa and Oregon State rounding out the top five on day one.
“Every round you have to fight,” Santoro said. “Everything’s a battle. They all have good people tomorrow. If you fight hard and put yourself in good positions and find ways to win, you win. There’s no magic formula. You have to battle. We have to show up and wrestle tomorrow.”
The 2013 NCAA Championships continue Friday morning with the championship quarterfinals and two rounds of consolations beginning at 10 a.m. CT from Wells Fargo Arena. All of Lehigh’s NCAA tournament action can be heard live, for free at Lehighsports.com.
133 – Randy Cruz
Rd. of 16: L by dec. No. 3 Tyler Graff (Wisconsin) 3-0
Second round consolation: vs. Rossi Bruno (Michigan)
141 – Anthony Salupo
First round consolation: L by dec. Mike Nevinger (Cornell) 6-3
157 – No. 3 Joey Napoli
First round consolation: L by dec. Danny Zilverberg (Minnesota) 7-1
174 – No. 9 Nathaniel Brown
First round consolation: dec. Greg Zannetti (Rutgers) 2-1, t.b.
Second round consolation: No. 7 Jordan Blanton (Illinois)
184 – No. 3 Robert Hamlin
Rd. of 16: dec. Dan Rinaldi (Rutgers) 6-3
Quarterfinals: vs. No. 6 Ryan Loder (UNI)