BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh wrestling team is continuing preparations for the 2012-13 season. The Mountain Hawks have been hard at work for more than two weeks of official practice. Things have been slightly different in the room with 15 freshmen on the roster, but head coach Pat Santoro likes what he’s seen so far and knows there is still plenty of work still to be done.
“Things are coming along pretty well considering there are 15 new faces in the room,” Santoro said. “Any time there are new faces, you still want to coach individually but there’s a big learning curve for the freshmen. They’ve been working extremely hard. They’re a hard-working competitive group. We have a lot of questions that need answered but we also have a lot of hungry guys who think they can win at a high level.”
Santoro continues to be pleased with the leadership provided by returning EIWA Champions Robert Hamlin and Shane Welsh among others. Also back in the mix is junior Joey Napoli who has moved up to 157 after deferring his eligibility last year.
“Joey really took advantage of last year to get bigger,” Santoro said. “Now, he looks like a 157-pounder. He has looked good. He’s going to be challenged early. He wants to wrestle the best and he’s going to see some top guys early in the season. He’s excited to be back competing and we’re glad to have him back in the lineup.”
There has been minimal weight class shuffling from the Mountain Hawks, but one of the areas where a returning wrestler made a move is 141 where sophomore Anthony Salupo drops after two seasons at 149.
“Anthony came in last summer and said he wanted to go down,” Santoro explained. “He has done everything right so far. He never looked like he was cutting weight and has done a great job.”
With the season rapidly approaching, a number of media outlets have begun to release preseason polls. The Mountain Hawks are ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Coaches Poll. Lehigh will face seven teams ranked in the top 25, including No. 2 Penn State, No. 4 Iowa, No. 7 Cornell, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 18 Pittsburgh and No. 25 Hofstra.
Individually, Lehigh has three men ranked by Amateur Wrestling News and two by W.I.N. Magazine. Hamlin is ranked third at 184 by both outlets. Sophomore Mason Beckman is rated 12th by AWN and 11th by W.I.N. at 133, while Welsh comes in at No. 20 at 149 in the AWN rankings.
Lehigh’s annual Brown and White Wrestle-offs are set for Thursday, November 1 at 7 p.m. inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. The Mountain Hawks’ first dual meet is set for the following Thursday when Binghamton visits Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Tickets for Lehigh wrestling are on sale and can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by visiting the Lehigh Ticket Office, located in Stabler Arena, or online at Lehighsports.com.