BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh wrestling program looked back on an impressive season on Saturday at the 89th annual Lewis Wrestling Dinner, held in the Wood Dining Room in Iacocca Hall on Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus. The dinner, held for the team, coaches, families, faculty and friends of Lehigh wrestling featured a highlight video and remarks from head coach Pat Santoro and Lehigh’s seven seniors.
Several awards were also given out during the event, recognizing the accomplishments of student-athletes both on the mats and in the classroom for the recent season, in which the Mountain Hawks finished eighth in the NCAA tournament and saw four wrestlers capture All-American honors, the most since Lehigh crowned five All-Americans in 2004.
For the fourth straight year, senior Zach Rey was named the program’s Outstanding Athlete, an award that recognizes the team member who makes the most outstanding athletic contribution to the team throughout the season. Rey finished the season at 26-3, and finishes his career as a three-time All-American and a two-time finalist, capturing one national title a season ago. With a 116-14 career record Rey ranks third on Lehigh’s career wins list. He became Lehigh’s 15th three-time All-American and its first three-time heavyweight All-American.
Junior Kevin Bailey was recognized as the program’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second straight year. The award recognizes the best combined academic and athletic performances by a member of the team. Bailey continues to excel in the classroom, carrying a GPA of 3.73 as a mechanical engineer. He also posted an 8-3 record on the mats, and is now 48-23 for his career at 174/184.
The Coaches Award went to junior Robert Hamlin, also for the second straight season. This honor recognizes the individual who makes significant contributions to the team in terms of leadership, attitude or improvement. Hamlin went 33-3 this season and is now 83-18 for his career. Hamlin won his second straight EIWA title at 184, and garnered his second All-American honor this season with a strong showing in the NCAA tournament.
The Deferred Eligibility Wrestler of the Year award recognizes a wrestler who is either a non-starter or who has deferred eligibility for the season. This year’s recipient is junior Joey Napoli, who deferred his eligibility this season. Napoli went 31-6 in individual competition and placed in six open tournaments, including first-place finishes at the TCNJ open, the Shorty Hitchcock Memorial Classic and the Mat Town Invitational. Napoli was an NCAA qualifier at 149 in 2011 and used this season to move up to 157.
The Gerald G. Leeman award went to senior Kadeem Samuels. This award honors a wrestler who demonstrates enthusiasm, determination and character on and off the mats in a way that best exemplifies the Hall of Fame coach that the award is named for. This award focuses more on heart and dedication than win and loss totals. Samuels earned the honor for his commitment and hard work over the course of his collegiate career. Samuels finishes with a career record of 52-42 after going 13-7 in his final season. Samuels placed at the Midlands in 2010 and earned several impressive wins at 197 this season while filling in for injured starter Joe Kennedy.
The wrestling program as a whole also had success to celebrate at the banquet, going 12-5 in dual-meets this season, including a 6-1 record against EIWA opponents. Lehigh repeated its second-place finish at the EIWA Championships, as well as their eighth-place finish at the NCAA Championships, while four wrestlers – Rey, Hamlin as well as seniors Brandon Hatchett and Joe Kennedy earned All-American honors.
Story by Gordon Stevenson ‘12