NORMAN, Okla. – No. 14 Lehigh stormed out to a 16-0 lead but No. 10 Oklahoma stormed back to win the final five bouts, including four bonus point wins as the Sooners rallied for 22-16 win over the Mountain Hawks Sunday at McCasland Field House. A late first period pin by Oklahoma’s Jordan Keller gave the Sooners momentum, before Nick Lester gave the hosts the lead with a 6-1 decision over Anthony Salupo at 149.
“It couldn’t have been a better draw,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “We knew on paper they were favored in the first six matches. We knew 165 and 197 and maybe 133 would be key. We have to wrestle better in those matches.”
The loss snaps Lehigh’s four-dual winning streak and drops the Mountain Hawks to 9-5 on the dual season. Oklahoma improves to 11-2 with their first victory over the Mountain Hawks since 2002.
The dual began at 165, which benefitted the Mountain Hawks. Senior Sean Bilodeau started things off with an 11-5 win over No. 16 Bubby Graham, the first of three Lehigh wins over ranked Sooner wrestlers. Bilodeau led 2-1 in the first period when he used an inside trip to take Graham to his back for five points. Although unable to secure the fall, Bilodeau led 7-1 after one period and held on from there.
Freshman Nate Brown followed with Lehigh’s only bonus points of the dual, earning an 11-2 major over Marcus Armato. Brown took control of the match with a three point near fall early in the second period, which put him up 5-0. Junior Robert Hamlin followed up with a hard-earned 7-3 decision over Erich Schmidtke in a battle of ranked wrestlers at 184. Hamlin had a takedown in each period while only yielding three escapes in the bout.
At 197, senior Kadeem Samuels helped extend the Mountain Hawks’ lead with a 7-6 decision over Keldrick Hall. Samuels won the takedown battle 3-0 but yielded a pair of stalling points in addition to four escapes. The win avenged a loss to Hall by the same 7-6 score at the Midlands in late December.
Senior Zach Rey earned a workmanlike 5-3 win over Kyle Colling at heavyweight to give the Mountain Hawks a 16-0 lead at the halfway point.
Oklahoma’s comeback began at 125 as Jarrod Patterson dominated sophomore Alex Abreu for a 23-8 technical fall. Patterson took Abreu down at will, but Abreu did well to not yield near fall points, so the technical fall only counted for four team points.
Keller provided key bonus points for the Sooners when he was awarded a win by fall over freshman Mason Beckman at 2:59 at 133. With the wrestlers scrambling for position, Beckman’s shoulders appeared to be pinned as the buzzer went off to end the period, but the official’s ruling was that the fall occurred before the buzzer.
After climbing within six at 16-10, Oklahoma crept closer as third-ranked Kendrick Maple won a 14-5 major decision over sophomore Steve Dutton at 141. Maple scored off the opening whistle and was strong throughout the match, using his re-shot ability to rack up six takedowns. Dutton did score a takedown in the third period, but it wasn’t enough to erase the major decision.
The Sooners took the lead at 149 as Nick Lester won 6-1 over Salupo. The Lehigh freshman led 1-0 after one period due to an illegal hold called against Lester, but Lester went in front with a second period Takedown and added a second score in the final period.
With the Sooners up 17-16 with one bout remaining, Matt Lester put the dual away with a 16-0 technical fall over senior Brian Tanen in 5:16 to end the dual.
“It’s not losing, it’s the way we lost,” explained Santoro. “We got hit for stalling so many times in the final five matches and that’s unacceptable. You’re out there fighting to win, you’ve got to shoot. It’s too bad because 165 and up set us up well, but we needed to steal one more match and we couldn’t get it done.
The Mountain Hawks are off next weekend and will return to the mats February 11-12 when they head to New England for a pair of EIWA duals. Lehigh will wrestle Brown in Providence, R.I. February 11 at 3 p.m. before heading to Cambridge, Mass. to meet Harvard February 12 at noon. Both matches will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehighsports.com.
Oklahoma 22, Lehigh 16
165 – Sean Bilodeau (Lehigh) dec. Bubby Graham (Oklahoma) 11-5
174 – Nate Brown (Lehigh) major dec. Marcus Armato (Oklahoma) 11-2
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. Erich Schmidtke (Oklahoma) 7-3
197 – Kadeem Samuels (Lehigh) dec. Keldrick Hall (Oklahoma) 7-6
285 – Zach Rey (Lehigh) dec. Kyle Colling (Oklahoma) 5-3
125 – Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma) tech. fall (4pt) Alex Abreu (Lehigh) 23-8, 5:55
133 – Jordan Keller (Oklahoma) Fall Mason Beckman (Lehigh) 2:59
141 – Kendrick Maple (Oklahoma) major dec. Steve Dutton (Lehigh) 14-5
149 – Nick Lester (Oklahoma) dec. Anthony Salupo (Lehigh) 6-1
157 – Matt Lester (Oklahoma) tech. fall Brian Tanen (Lehigh) 16-0, 5:16