Posted: 11/08/2012 | Last updated: November 8, 2012 at 09:20 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The 21st-ranked Lehigh wrestling team opened its 2012-13 season by winning six bouts in a 23-16 triumph over Binghamton Thursday night inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Freshman Eric Hess won by first period pin in his varsity dual debut as he was one of three Mountain Hawks to produce bonus points on the evening.
Senior Robert Hamlin and junior Joey Napoli added wins by major decision for the Mountain Hawks, who win their opener for the fourth time in five seasons under head coach Pat Santoro.
“I was really pleased with the effort,” Santoro said. “We wrestled hard and tried to score points the whole time. That’s all we can ask for at this time of year. It certainly looked like it was our first time out there a couple times with some things we gave up. Those things are correctable. Overall it was a good night for our first time out there.”
The Mountain Hawks and Bearcats split four decisions in the first four bouts of the evening. Binghamton’s Patrick Hunter used a late five-point takedown to break a 1-1 tie in a 6-2 win over junior Alex Abreu at 125. Freshman Laike Gardner pulled Lehigh even, overcoming a five-point move with two takedowns and a hefty riding time advantage, which proved to be the difference in a 7-6 win over Dan Riggi at 133.
“He’s a buzzsaw,” Santoro said of Gardner. “He gave up that five-point takedown but kept his composure. He kept battling back and that’s what he did. He can wrestle all day.”
In his first match down at 141, sophomore Anthony Salupo started fast with a pair of first period takedowns en route to a 9-6 win over Joe Bonaldi.
One of the more anticipated matches of the night came at 149 where Lehigh’s 19th-ranked senior Shane Welsh met No. 2 Donnie Vinson of Binghamton. Vinson scored the only two takedowns of the match to prevail 7-5. Welsh scored a pair of reversals and an escape in a losing effort.
After deferring his eligibility last season, junior Napoli posted an impressive 17-8 major decision over Joe Chamish at 157 to give the Mountain Hawks a 10-6 lead at intermission. Napoli racked up seven takedowns in the victory, including three in the first period as part of a strong start.
In the first bout after the intermission, Hess helped extend Lehigh’s lead. After securing an early takedown, Hess turned Binghamton’s Vince Grella with an arm bar, securing the fall in 2:18 to put the Mountain Hawks up 16-6.
“We needed that,” Santoro said. “Joey always does that. He’s always trying to score points. We’ve been waiting to have Eric out there for about three years. It’s nice to have him out there and it’s nice to see him start his career with a pin.”
Binghamton responded with a six point win of its own as Caleb Wallace rallied to pin sophomore Nathaniel Brown in the second period of their bout at 174. Brown led 4-0 in the second period when he was reversed on to his back. Wallace was able to secure the fall in 4:39 to cut Lehigh’s lead back to four.
Hamlin opened his season with a 5-3 win over Kevin Steinhaus Saturday in the NWCA All-Star Classic. His first official match produced bonus points as he posted an 11-2 major decision over Cody Reed in a matchup of ranked wrestlers at 184. After a slow opening couple of minutes Hamlin scored twice in the final minute of the first period to lead 4-1. He built a seven point advantage into the third period and benefitted from a penalty point plus riding time to secure the major.
The Bearcats answered Hamlin’s major with a major of their own as nationally-ranked Nate Schiedel won 19-6 over freshman John Bolich in his varsity debut at 197.
In the final bout of the night, freshman heavyweight Jack Delia impressed, scoring two first period takedowns and adding a third late in an 8-4 decision over Tyler Deuel.
The Mountain Hawks will return to the mats on Friday November 16 when they travel to two time defending national champion Penn State for the 101st meeting between the longtime eastern rivals. The match is slated for a 7 p.m. start from Rec Hall. The match will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehighsports.com.
125 – Patrick Hunter (BU) dec. Alex Abreu (LU) 6-2
133 – Laike Gardner (LU) dec. Dan Riggi (BU) 7-6
141 – Anthony Salupo (LU) dec. Joe Bonaldi (BU) 9-6
149 – Donnie Vinson (BU) dec. Shane Welsh (LU) 7-5
157 – Joey Napoli (LU) major dec. Joe Chamish (BU) 17-8
165 – Eric Hess (LU) pinned Vince Grella (BU) 2:18
174 – Caleb Wallace (BU) pinned Nathaniel Brown (LU) 4:39
184 – Robert Hamlin (LU) major dec. Cody Reed (BU) 11-2
197 – Nate Schiedel (BU) major dec. John Bolich (LU) 19-6
285 – Jack Delia (LU) dec. Tyler Deuel (BU) 8-4
Attendance – 1,303
Referee – George Chilmonik