BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In its most impressive win of the season to date, the Lehigh wrestling team won six of ten bouts to upset No. 16 Oklahoma 21-14 in front of 2,719 fans Friday night at Stabler Arena. Senior Robert Hamlin gave Lehigh the lead for good with a 22-7 technical fall in 5:43 over Nolan McBryde at 184, as the Mountain Hawks won the final four bouts to rally for the victory.
The win is Lehigh’s first over a ranked foe this season as the Mountain Hawks improve to 6-5, while Oklahoma falls to 6-5.
“Every single man who went out there tonight wrestled pretty well,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “They all fought pretty hard for the team and that’s the reason we came away with a victory tonight.”
Junior Alex Abreu propelled Lehigh to a fast start with a 5-3 sudden victory decision over Kyle Garcia at 125. Abreu took a first period lead after Garcia was penalized twice for stalling. The match remained 1-0 into the third period as Abreu built a riding time advantage before yielding an escape. Garcia scored the only takedown in regulation to take a 3-1 lead but an Abreu escape plus riding time tied the match at three. Abreu scored the decisive takedown just six seconds into the sudden victory period.
Oklahoma then claimed the lead with back-to-back wins at 133 and 141. Lehigh freshman Randy Cruz dropped a 10-5 decision to ninth-ranked Cody Brewer as the Sooners evened the score at 3-3. At 141 sophomore Anthony Salupo returned to the Lehigh lineup and wrestled reasonably well against top-ranked Keldric Maple, but Maple proved to be too strong in a 15-5 major decision victory.
The biggest upset of the night came at 149 as senior Shane Welsh edged ninth-ranked Nick Lester 3-2, avenging a 10-0 major decision loss at the Midlands Championships. All three of Welsh’s points came in the second period on a penalty point for locked hands by Lester and a reversal. Lester was only able to manage a pair of escapes as Lehigh cut the deficit to 7-6 after four bouts.
“Shane just needed to make some adjustments on bottom,” Santoro said. “You still need to be able to score points there and he knows that. He was in deep a couple times but Lester is really hard to score on.”
At 157, junior Albert Woody subbed for the injured Joey Napoli and held his own against Matt Lester, but dropped a 5-0 decision as the Mountain Hawks trailed 10-6 at intermission.
The Sooners grabbed their second bonus win in the first bout after the break as fourth-ranked Bubby Graham won by major decision, 11-3 over freshman Ben Haas. It would be the last win of the evening for Oklahoma.
Sophomore Nathaniel Brown started Lehigh’s run with a 13-1 major decision over Matt Reed at 174. Brown scored a takedown and added a three-point near fall to lead 5-0 after one period and added three more takedowns to pull Lehigh within four.
Hamlin was dominant in his second technical fall of the season as he collected nine takedowns in just over two periods of action. A late three point near fall in the second gave Hamlin the back points necessary to pursue the five point technical fall.
“Both Brown and Hamlin were focused and poised and workmanlike,” Santoro said. “They knew had to go out and score points and build that lead. They were both outstanding tonight.”
Freshman John Bolich extended Lehigh’s lead with a 2-0 decision over Brad Johnson. After a scoreless first period, Bolich rode out the second and scored an escape plus 1:31 worth of riding time to give the Mountain Hawks a four point lead.
At heavyweight Lehigh called on freshman Max Wessell, who used the week to bulk up from 197 in his varsity dual debut. Tied 1-1 in the third, Wessell scored a takedown for the deciding points in a 3-2 decision over Keldrick Hall, clinching Lehigh’s fourth win-or-tie in its last five duals against Oklahoma (3-1-1).
“It can be tough for freshmen on the first time out in front of the home fans,” Santoro said of Wessell’s performance. He went out and handled it really well.”
The Mountain Hawks will be back on the mats Saturday when they host No. 10 Oregon State at 2 p.m. inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Tickets can be purchased online at Lehighsports.com or in person at Grace Hall prior to the match.
Lehigh 21 Oklahoma 14
125 – Alex Abreu (Lehigh) dec. Kyle Garcia (OU) 5-3, s.v.
133 – Cody Brewer (OU) dec. Randy Cruz (Lehigh) 10-5
141 – Kendric Maple (OU) major dec. Anthony Salupo (Lehigh) 15-5
149 – Shane Welsh (Lehigh) dec. Nick Lester (OU) 3-2
157 – Matt Lester (OU) dec. Albert Woody (Lehigh) 5-0
165 – Bubby Graham (OU) major dec. Ben Haas (Lehigh) 11-3
174 – Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) major dec. Matt Reed (OU) 13-1
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) tech fall Nolan McBryde (OU) 22-7, 5:43
197 – John Bolich (Lehigh) dec. Brad Johnson 2-0
285 – Max Wessell (Lehigh) dec. Keldrick Hall (OU) 3-2
Attendance – 2,719
Referee – Gary Kessel