BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In its first action in nearly two weeks, No. 21 Lehigh returned home with a 34-7 win over Hofstra Friday night inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Sophomore Anthony Salupo knocked off eighth-ranked Luke Vaith 8-5 at 141 highlighting a night in which the Mountain Hawks won eight bouts, scoring bonus points in five of the eight wins with two pins, a technical fall and two major decisions.
The win improves Lehigh’s season record to 3-1, while Hofstra falls to 0-7.
“We have a young team with a lot of fight,” explained Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “They know they have to continue to get better. This was a big dual for a lot of different reasons tonight. A lot of guys did some great things mentally getting ready for this match, but I’m really impressed with the fight.”
The Pride won the dual’s opening and closing bouts, getting a bonus point from Steve Bonanno, who earned a 12-3 major decision over junior Alex Abreu at 125.
A strong third period from freshman Laike Gardner got things rolling for the Mountain Hawks. Gardner trailed 2-1 against Jaime Franco after two periods at 133. Working from the top position to open the third period, Gardner locked up a cradle and put Franco on his back for a three-point near fall to take a 4-1 lead. Gardner built a riding time advantage of 1:28 which was needed as Franco battled back within a point after a penalty point for locked hands and an escape. Riding time would have been enough for the win, but Gardner added a counter takedown at the buzzer to win 7-4.
“That was a big win for Laike,” Santoro said. “Franco’s really talented. Laike just keeps battling and keeps wrestling. He wears people out and that’s what he did tonight.”
Salupo followed with an 8-5 win over Vaith to give Lehigh a 6-4 lead which it would not relinquish. The Lakewood, Ohio native opened the match with a lightning-quick takedown and added a second takedown in the second period to lead 4-3 after two. Salupo escaped to open the third period and after Vaith scored his only takedown, he cut Salupo loose to give the Mountain Hawk a 6-5 lead. After some solid late match defending, Salupo took an aggressive shot and converted one final takedown at the buzzer to earn the win.
“That was about as nice a shot as I’ve seen from anyone all year,” Santoro said about Salupo’s first takedown. “That match was a battle. They went back and forth that whole match. It was also nice to see that takedown at the end. It was nice to see him score instead of trying to win by one.”
At 149, senior Shane Welsh started a run of five straight bonus wins with a 20-3 technical fall over Matt Spataro. Welsh built a 9-0 lead after two periods, and appeared headed towards a major, before converting a four-point move in the final seconds of the third period to go up 16 points, plus a bonus point for his nearly three minutes of riding time.
Junior Joey Napoli gave Lehigh a 17-4 lead at intermission as he built a 6-1 lead against Cody Ruggirello before pinning the Pride wrestler at 4:27.
Coming out of intermission, freshman Eric Hess delivered Lehigh’s second consecutive fall and his second pin in as many home duals, using an arm bar-half nelson combination to deck Jay Lysne in the first period.
The run of bonus wins concluded with back-to-back major decisions by sophomore Nathaniel Brown at 174 and senior Robert Hamlin at 184. Brown collected takedowns in each of the first two periods and added two in the third in a 10-1 win over Jermaine John, while Hamlin overcame a slow start, scoring all 14 of his points in the final two periods in a 14-3 major over Taras Luzhnyy.
At 197, freshman John Bolich collected his first varsity win, downing Tim Murphy 7-2. Bolich scored on a double leg takedown in the first period and added a reversal and two point near fall in the second plus riding time.
In the final bout of the dual, freshman Jack Delia scored a late takedown to force overtime against Paul Snyder, but Snyder countered a Delia shot for a spin-behind takedown 14 seconds into sudden victory to win 5-3.
The Mountain Hawks will be back on the mats on Saturday as Lehigh welcomes Penn to Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall for the annual Sheridan Dual in the EIWA opener for both teams. The match is slated for a 1 p.m. start and tickets can be purchased Saturday morning at Grace Hall or online any time at Lehighsports.com.
Lehigh 34 Hofstra 7
125 – Steve Bonanno (Hofstra) major dec. Alex Abreu (Lehigh) 13-2
133 – Laike Gardner (Lehigh) dec. Jaime Franco (Hofstra) 7-4
141 – Anthony Salupo (Lehigh) dec. Luke Vaith (Hofstra) 8-5
149 – Shane Welsh (Lehigh) tech fall Matt Spataro (Hofstra) 20-3, 7:00
157 – Joey Napoli (Lehigh) pinned Cody Ruggirello (Hofstra) 4:27
165 – Eric Hess (Lehigh) pinned Jay Lysne (Hofstra) 1:39
174 – Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) major dec. Jermaine John (Hofstra) 10-1
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) major dec. Taras Luzhnyy (Hofstra) 14-3
197 – John Bolich (Lehigh) dec. Tim Murphy (Hofstra) 7-2
285 – Paul Snyder (Hofstra) dec. Jack Delia (Lehigh) 5-3, s.v.
Attendance – 1,305
Referee – Gary Kessel