ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Lehigh snapped its three dual losing streak, winning four of the first five bouts and holding off a late Navy charge to down the Midshipmen 19-15 Saturday at Alumni Hall. The Mountain Hawks won six bouts overall to defeat Navy for the second straight year and even their dual record at 4-4.
With the win Lehigh has also cut Navy’s lead in the all-time series to one at 47-46.
“Navy is always tough because they fight hard,” explained Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “They’re the ones defending our country. I always look forward to wrestling Navy because you know it’s going to be an exciting match that comes right down to a match or two near the end. That’s what happened today. We have a lot of work to do but we took a step in the right direction today.”
The dual began at 125 where junior Alex Abreu helped get Lehigh out to a strong start with a 7-1 decision over Patrick Prada. Abreu scored takedowns in each of the first two periods and was strong on top accumulating over three minutes of riding time.
“He needed that,” Santoro said of Abreu’s win. “He has wrestled a who’s who of 125s this year. He’s had a great mindset and knows what he’s been up against all year. He knows he has an opportunity every time to get better and this was a nice win for him.”
Freshman Randy Cruz followed with his first career dual meet win, a 4-1 decision over Colton Rasche at 133. Cruz broke a 1-1 tie with a third period takedown and added riding time advantage to earn the victory.
Navy (1-1) picked up its first win at 141 as Alex Johnson won a 6-2 decision over freshman Laike Gardner. Senior Shane Welsh then followed with Lehigh’s lone bonus point win of the afternoon, a 10-2 major decision over Ben Hunter at 149. Welsh totaled four takedowns, including two in the second period and added a substantial riding time advantage.
The first of three matches between ranked wrestlers went to third-ranked junior Joey Napoli, who won 6-2 over Bobby Barnhisel at 157. Napoli scored takedowns in each of the first two periods, and survived a wild scramble at the end of the second period where he was nearly pinned but managed to give up no points.
At 165 freshman Ben Haas made his varsity dual debut against Peyton Walsh. A lengthy scramble in the first period yielded no points, but Walsh scored a five point move at the end of the first period to lead 5-0 after one. After a reversal in the second period, Walsh turned Haas for the fall at 3:57 to cut Lehigh’s lead to 13-9 after six bouts.
Another intriguing matchup pitted 13th-ranked Nathaniel Brown against No. 14 Mathew Miller at 174. After a scoreless first period Brown began the second period in the down position. Miller rode strong from the top position and ended the period with 1:58 in riding time advantage but Brown earned a point for an illegal hold by Miller and then scored a reversal in the final seconds to lead 3-0 going to the third period. Miller finished the match with riding time advantage but Brown scored a third period takedown to win 5-3.
Senior Robert Hamlin gave Lehigh a ten point lead with a 4-2 decision over Mason Bailey at 184. Hamlin had to defend a lengthy takedown attempt by Bailey in the first period as Bailey nearly controlled Hamlin’s left ankle on three occasions. The wrestlers traded escapes before Hamlin scored a third period takedown and built his riding time advantage over one minute to win the match.
The Mids captured the final two bouts of the dual, as Oscar Huntley scored a third period takedown to defeat freshman John Bolich at 197, while Dan Miller took freshman Jack Delia to his back for five points in the second sudden-victory period to break a 2-2 tie and win 7-2 at heavyweight.
“We knew it was going to take a full team effort,” Santoro said. “To come out of here with a win is a good thing. We knew 133, 141, 174 would be crucial and those matches all went down to the wire. It was good to get out of here with a win in a very tough place to wrestle. Now we have to turn around and compete harder tomorrow.”
The Mountain Hawks will travel to Washington, D.C. to face American Sunday at 2 p.m. The match will be broadcast live on WLVR-FM (91.3) as well as Lehighsports.com.
Lehigh 19, Navy 15
125 – Alex Abreu (Lehigh) dec. Patrick Prada (Navy) 7-1
133 – Randy Cruz (Lehigh) dec. Colton Rasche (Navy) 4-1
141 – Alex Johnson (Navy) dec. Laike Gardner (Lehigh) 6-2
149 – Shane Welsh (Lehigh) major dec. Ben Hunter (Navy) 10-2
157 – Joey Napoli (Lehigh) dec. Bobby Barnhisel (Navy) 6-2
165 – Peyton Walsh (Navy) Fall Ben Haas (Lehigh) 3:57
174 – Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) dec. Mathew Miller (Navy) 5-3
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. Mason Bailey (Navy) 4-2
197 – Oscar Huntley (Navy) dec. John Bolich (Lehigh) 3-2
285 – Dan Miller (Navy) dec. Jack Delia (Lehigh) 7-2, s.v. 2
Referee – Jake Llewellyn