ST. LOUIS – Three Lehigh wrestlers advanced to the semifinals as the Mountain Hawks moved into the top ten in the team standings with a strong showing in session three of the NCAA Championships, Friday morning at Scottrade Center. Returning All-Americans Brandon Hatchett, Robert Hamlin and Zach Rey all won quarterfinal bouts to repeat as All-Americans.
Hatchett and Hamlin are now two-time All-Americans, while Rey becomes Lehigh’s 15th three-time All-American and its first three-time heavyweight All-American. Senior Joe Kennedy won a pair of matches in the consolations and will wrestle Friday night needing one win to pick up his first career All-American certificate.
Lehigh ended session three in seventh place with 40 team points as the Mountain Hawks continue to seek their second straight top ten team finish.
Hatchett was the first Mountain Hawk through to the semifinals following a 7-3 decision over No. 3 seed Andrew Sorensen of Iowa State. The 11th-seeded Hatchett scored a takedown in the opening seconds and built a lengthy riding time advantage. Hatchett led 3-1 going into the third period, but after giving up the tying reversal, Hatchett escaped and scored an insurance takedown to reach his first career national semifinal. He will now face the No. 7 seed Josh Asper of Maryland.
Hamlin secured his second straight semifinals appearance with a takedown in each period plus a second period escape in his 7-4 win over Josh Ihnen of Nebraska. Next up for the No. 2 seed Hamlin is No. 6 seed and defending national champion Quentin Wright of Penn State in what will be a rematch of last year’s national finals. Hamlin avenged a finals loss with an 8-3 win over Wright in December at Stabler Arena.
Rey utilized solid defense and a second period reversal to hold off Iowa freshman Bobby Telford 2-0 in a meeting of the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds at heavyweight. With the win Rey moves into the semifinals for the third straight year. He will face No. 1 seed Ryan Flores of American who has four falls in four bouts in the tournament. The all-time series between Rey and Flores is tied at three, with Flores’ three wins coming in the 2009, 2011 and 2012 EIWA finals and Rey’s wins coming in the 2010 Midlands semifinals, a February 2011 dual meet at Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall and the 2011 NCAA finals.
Kennedy will bid to become Lehigh’s fourth All-American. He faces No. 6 seed Brent Haynes of Missouri with the winner earning All-America honors. Kennedy edged Keldrick Hall of Oklahoma 3-2 in the second round of consolations before scoring two takedowns in a 6-1 triumph over Cody Reed of Binghamton to earn his spot in the round of 12.
The other three Mountain Hawks who survived day one of the championships lost in second round consolations and saw their seasons come to an end.
At 133 freshman Mason Beckman gave up the winning takedown in the final seconds of a 4-2 loss to Zach Horan of Central Michigan. Sophomore Steve Dutton was then knocked out of the 141 pound bracket after giving up two third period takedowns in an 8-5 loss to Darius Little of NC State. Senior Brian Tanen saw his Lehigh career come to an end with a 10-3 loss to Josh Kreimier of Air Force at 157.
In the team race, Penn State holds a 17 point lead over Cornell with Iowa, Minnesota and Oklahoma State rounding out the top five.
The 2012 NCAA Championships continue Friday at 6 p.m. CT with the national semifinals and All-America round of 12. Session four will be televised on ESPNU and ESPN3 while live audio coverage will be available for free at Lehighsports.com.
165 – Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) dec. Andrew Sorenson (Iowa State) 7-3
184 – Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. Josh Ihnen (Nebraska) 7-4
285 – Zach Rey (Lehigh) dec. Bobby Telford (Iowa) 2-0
Second round consolations
133 – Zach Horan (CMU) dec. Mason Beckman (Lehigh) 4-2
141 – Darius Little (NC State) dec. Steve Dutton (Lehigh) 8-5
157 – Josh Kreimier (Air Force) dec. Brian Tanen (Lehigh) 10-3
197 – Joe Kennedy (Lehigh) dec. Keldrick Hall (Oklahoma) 3-2
Third round consolations
197 – Joe Kennedy (Lehigh) dec. Cody Reed (Binghamton) 6-1