Posted: 01/06/2013 | Last updated: January 6, 2013 at 04:50 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Despite spotting No. 8 Cornell an early 11-0 lead, No. 25 Lehigh battled back winning four of the next six bouts, but the Big Red ultimately prevailed by a 20-13 score Sunday afternoon inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Senior Robert Hamlin knocked off defending NCAA Champion Steve Bosak 3-1 in sudden victory at 184, but it wasn’t enough as the Big Red won six bouts on the day.
The Mountain Hawks trailed by four entering the final bout, but Stryker Lane’s 3-1 decision over Jack Delia clinched the dual for the visitors. Lehigh falls to 3-4 with its third straight dual loss, while Cornell improves to 5-2.
“It was a hard fought dual,” explained Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “We wrestled well, it just wasn’t enough. 133 was a key match and heavyweight was another one we needed. Cornell is a very good team. We still have a lot of work to do before March, but there were some good key matches today.
Santoro continued, “Shane Welsh had a gut-check match and did a great job. Hamlin did a great job against Bosak, those are two warriors out there. We had a lot of positives but we have to work on a lot of things.”
Lehigh was forced to make several pre-match lineup changes with sophomore Anthony Salupo and freshman Brian Brill out with injuries.
Cornell raced to an early 11-0 lead with wins in the first three bouts. The match began at 125 where junior Alex Abreu met 11th-ranked Nahshon Garrett. Abreu hung tough early on, nearly scoring on two quality shots, but Garrett opened the scoring with a quick high double leg takedown. Garrett added a two-point near fall at the end of the first period, and continued to improve as the match progressed en route to an 18-3 technical fall victory in 7:00.
At 133, Lehigh sent out true freshman Randy Cruz, who was making his varsity dual debut against Cornell’s Bricker Dixon. Dixon opened the scoring with a second period takedown, and while Cruz took top in the third and rode out the entire period, he wasn’t able to turn Dixon and suffered a 2-1 loss with his only point being a penalty point for stalling.
With Salupo out of the lineup, true freshman Laike Gardner moved up to 141 to face No. 10 Mike Nevinger. The Big Red returning All-American used a headlock to lead 5-0 after one period and added two more second period takedowns to extend his lead. Gardner bounced back in the third period, scoring a reversal and then a late takedown to avoid bonus points as he fell 11-5.
Senior Shane Welsh needed a late rally to put the Mountain Hawks on the board with a win over Ryan Dunphy at 149. Welsh mustered three escapes in regulation, the second of which came after Dunphy called an injury timeout, but a Dunphy third-period takedown sent the match to overtime tied at three. After a scoreless sudden victory period, Welsh was penalized for an illegal hold in the first tiebreaker for an illegal figure four. Welsh was able to ride out the period and trailed 4-3 going into the second 30 second tiebreaker, where he scored a reversal and then rode out to win 5-4.
Senior Joey Napoli brought Lehigh within 11-7 at intermission with an 11-3 major decision over Chris Dowdy at 157. Napoli scored a first period takedown and a second period reversal then added three third period takedowns plus riding time to get to the eight point advantage.
After intermission, both teams sent out backups at 165 as Lehigh junior Albert Woody moved up two weight classes to face Cornell’s Jesse Shanaman. The Big Red were able to extend their team lead as Shanaman scored takedowns in the first and third period to blank Woody 5-0.
Cornell then bumped up top-ranked Kyle Dake from 165 to 174 to face sophomore Nathaniel Brown, fresh off his runner-up finish at the Midlands. Brown went for a big move early, but Dake ended up on top for the takedown and controlled the match from there, adding two second period takedowns and a reversal plus riding time to win 9-3 and give the Big Red a 17-7 lead.
The featured bout of the dual matched Hamlin and Bosak for the sixth time in their careers. After a scoreless first period that saw Bosak warned for stalling, Bosak escaped three seconds into the second period to take a 1-0 lead after two. Hamlin chose down for the third period, and after some early struggles on bottom was able to escape to tie the match at one with Bosak only able to accumulate 57 seconds of riding time advantage. The match went to sudden victory where Hamlin secured the winning takedown with 19 seconds remaining after a flurry of shots and re-shots by the two wrestlers.
“Anytime he wrestles Bennett or Bosak they’re going to try and ride him for a minute,” Santoro said. “They’re such great competitors and they’ll battle back-and-forth the rest of the year.”
Hamlin is now 5-1 versus Bosak all time, and the two-time EIWA champion and All-American has never lost back-to-back matches since moving up to 184 prior to start of the 2010-11 season.
Lehigh was able to creep within four at 17-13 as freshman John Bolich defeated No. 19 Jace Bennett at 197. The match was scoreless through two periods with all action in the first five minutes taking place from the neutral position. Bennett chose down to open the third and Bolich was successfully able to ride out the entire period to earn the victory.
Needing a technical fall or a pin to win the dual for Lehigh, Delia looked to upend Lane, but the Big Red senior scored a key second period takedown to clinch Cornell’s second consecutive win over Lehigh.
“We just need to tighten some things up,” Santoro said. “Randy Cruz will get some experience on the mat and get better. He had a great Midlands performance. He learned a good lesson today.”
The Mountain Hawks will take to the road next weekend for a pair of road duals against EIWA opponents. Lehigh will battle Navy Saturday at 2 p.m. at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md. and then will square off against American Sunday at 2 p.m. at Bender Arena in Washington, D.C. Both matches will be broadcast live at Lehighsports.com.
Cornell 20, Lehigh 13
125 – Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) tech fall Alex Abreu (Lehigh) 18-3, 7:00
133 – Bricker Dixon (Cornell) dec. Randy Cruz (Lehigh) 2-1
141 – Mike Nevinger (Cornell) dec. Laike Gardner (Lehigh) 11-5
149 – Shane Welsh (Lehigh) dec. Ryan Dunphy (Cornell) 5-4, t.b.
157 – Joey Napoli (Lehigh) major dec. Chris Dowdy (Cornell) 11-3
165 – Jesse Shanaman (Cornell) dec. Albert Woody (Lehigh) 5-0
174 – Kyle Dake (Cornell) dec. Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) 9-3
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec, Steve Bosak (Cornell) 3-1, s.v.
197 – John Bolich (Lehigh) dec. Jace Bennett (Cornell) 1-0
285 – Stryker Lane (Cornell) dec. Jack Delia (Lehigh) 3-1
Attendance – 1,914
Referee – Jake Llewellyn