EVANSTON, Ill. – Three Lehigh wrestlers advanced to Sunday’s championship semifinals, to pace the Mountain Hawks in a marathon opening day at the 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Senior Robert Hamlin, junior Joey Napoli and sophomore Nathaniel Brown reached the semis, while five other Mountain Hawks remain alive in consolations.
As a team, the Mountain Hawks are tied with Oregon State for fifth place with 48.5 points, 12 points behind first place Illinois. Five of Lehigh’s ten designated point scorers are alive, with freshman Laike Gardner and senior Shane Welsh joining the trio of Mountain Hawk semifinalists in advancing to Sunday’s second day. In addition, sophomore Mason Beckman (133) and true freshmen Randy Cruz (133) and Mitch Minotti (149) advanced to Sunday and are one win from placing in the top eight while competing unattached.
Six Mountain Hawks reached Saturday night’s quarterfinals. The first three Lehigh wrestlers to compete in the quarterfinals lost, but Napoli got things going for the Brown and White with a come-from-behind 6-3 win over No. 3 seed Jesse Dong of Virginia Tech at 157. The third-seeded Napoli fell behind 2-0 early, but scored a key reversal to take a 4-3 lead and added two more points to reach the semifinals, where he will face the No. 10 seed Taylor Walsh of Indiana.
Brown delivered the biggest upset of the tournament for Lehigh thus far, knocking off top seed Jordan Blanton of Illinois 3-2 in the quarterfinals at 174. The ninth-seeded Brown posted his third win of the day, earning a semifinal matchup against No. 4 seed Dan Yates of Michigan.
Hamlin enjoyed a strong first day in defense of his 2011 Midlands title at 184, following a first round decision with three straight wins by major decision to reach the semis for the third straight year. The top seed at 184, Hamlin will now face No. 4 seed Travis Rutt of Oklahoma, who is redshirting this season.
In his first action in nearly a month, Gardner impressed early on at 133, upsetting No. 9 seed Daryl Thomas of Illinois 5-3 in sudden victory, before winning 5-0 over Jimmy Morris of Rider. In the quarters, Gardner lost by technical fall to Jesse Theilke of Wisconsin. Gardner will now face his Lehigh teammate Cruz on Sunday, with the winner earning a spot in the top eight.
Welsh reached the quarterfinals at 149 with two wins including a 5-2 decision over No. 8 seed Josh Wilson of Utah Valley. In the quarterfinals, Welsh met former Iowa NCAA finalist Montell Marion, and despite scoring the first takedown came up on the short end of a 6-5 score against the top seed. Welsh will meet Bart Reiter of Northern Iowa on Sunday, looking to place at the Midlands for the second straight season.
Cruz posted a 3-1 record on the first day of competition to earn a matchup with his teammate Gardner.
Sophomore Mason Beckman entered the Midlands with a 17-0 record competing unattached while he defers his eligibility this season. The No. 6 seed at 133, Beckman won his first three matches on Saturday before bowing out to No. 3 seed Tyler Graff of Wisconsin 12-5 for his first loss of the season. Beckman will now face Levi Wolfensperger of Northern Iowa with the winner earning a spot in the top eight.
Minotti was the third Lehigh unattached wrestler to advance to Sunday as he bounced back from a round of 16 loss by fall to No. 5 seed Nick Lester of Oklahoma, winning two matches to earn a matchup with No. 6 seed Eric Grajales of Michigan on Sunday.
Among Lehigh’s other point scorers, junior Alex Abreu went 1-2 at 125, sophomore Anthony Salupo went 3-1 at 141 before medically forfeiting in the fourth round of consolations and freshman John Bolich posted a 1-2 mark at 197. Freshmen Brian Brill (165) and Jack Delia (285) were eliminated after going 0-2.
Also competing for the Mountain Hawks were junior Albert Woody, who went 1-2 at 149, senior Kevin Bailey, who went 2-2 at 174 and freshman Doug Vollaro who lost his first round match competing unattached at 285 before defaulting out of the tournament.
The 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships will conclude Sunday from Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena. Session III, featuring the championship semifinals and round of 12 matches is slated for a 12 p.m. (CT) start. The Midlands finals will begin at 7 p.m. and will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
125 – Alex Abreu - Eliminated
Rd. of 32: L by fall #9 Dom Malone (Northwestern) 1:55
2nd round consolation: dec. Jade Rauser (Utah Valley) 12-6
3rd round consolation: L by major dec. Sean Boyle (Michigan) 9-0
133 – Laike Gardner
Rd. of 32: dec. #9 Daryl Thomas (Illinois) 5-3, s.v.
Rd. of 16: dec. Jimmy Morris (Rider) 5-0
Quarterfinals: L by tech fall Jesse Theilke (Wisconsin) 19-3, 4:46
Rd. of 12: vs. Randy Cruz (Lehigh)
133 – #6 Mason Beckman (unattached)
Pigtail: Tech fall Dalton Bullard (Elmhurst) 15-0, 4:54
Rd. of 32: dec. Joey Gosinski (Hofstra) 6-2
Rd. of 16: dec. Tyler Keselring (Central Michigan) 5-4
Quarterfinals: L by dec. #3 Tyler Graff (Wisconsin) 12-5
Rd. of 12: vs. #12 Levi Wolfensperger (Northern Iowa)
133 – Randy Cruz (unattached)
Rd. of 32: dec. Geoffrey Bostany (Penn) 2-0, s.v.2
Rd. of 16: L by dec. #7 Cody Brewer (Oklahoma) 8-7
3rd round consolation: dec. Drew VanAnrooy (Oregon State) 7-2
4th round consolation: major dec. Zane Richards (Illinois) 13-4
Rd. of 12: vs. Laike Gardner (Lehigh)
141 – #11 Anthony Salupo - Eliminated
Pigtail: dec. Scott Mattingly (Central Mich.) 7-2
Rd. of 32: dec. Kasey Davis (Edinboro) 7-4
Rd. of 16: L by dec. #6 Michael Mangrum (Oregon State) 6-2
3rd round consolation: major dec. Quinton Murphy (Indiana) 17-4
4th round consolation: Medical Forfeit
149 – #9 Shane Welsh
Rd. of 32: dec. Geno Capezio (Indiana) 3-2
Rd. of 16: dec. #8 Josh Wilson (Utah Valley) 5-2
Quarterfinals: L by dec. #1 Montell Marion (Unattached) 6-5
Rd. of 12: vs. Bart Reiter (Northern Iowa)
149 – Albert Woody - Eliminated
Rd. of 32: L by dec. Shawn Fayette (N. Illinois) 5-3
2nd round consolation: dec. Dalton Kelley (CSU-Bakersfield) 12-9
3rd round consolation: L by dec. #8 Josh Wilson (Utah Valley) 9-3
149 – Mitch Minotti (unattached)
Rd. of 32: Fall Donnie Corby (Central Michigan) 7:39, s.v.
Rd. of 16: L by Fall #5 Nick Lester (Oklahoma) 6:27
3rd round consolation: dec. Max Mayfield (Iowa St.) 8-3
4th round consolation: dec. Christian Barber (UNC) 6-1
Rd. of 12: vs. #6 Eric Grajales (Michigan)
157 – #3 Joey Napoli
Rd. of 32: Fall Casey Fuller (Edinboro) 1:39
Rd. of 16: dec. Logan Molina (Iowa State) 3-1
Quarterfinals: dec. #6 Jesse Dong (Virginia Tech) 6-3
Semifinals: vs. #10 Taylor Walsh (Indiana)
165 – Brian Brill - Eliminated
Pigtail: dec. Vince Grella (Binghamton) 7-4
Rd. of 32: L by major dec. #5 Conrad Polz (Illinois) 11-2
1st round consolation: L by dec. #6 Pierce Harger (Northwestern) 5-0
174 – #9 Nathaniel Brown
Rd. of 32: major dec. Jermaine John (Hofstra) 8-0
Rd. of 16: dec. P.J. Tasser (Pitt) 9-4
Quarterfinals: dec. #1 Jordan Blanton (Illinois) 3-2
Semifinals: vs. #4 Dan Yates (Michigan)
174 – Kevin Bailey - Eliminated
Rd. of 32: L by dec. #10 Nick Bonaccorsi (Pitt) 8-5
1st round consolation: Fall Frank Abbondanza (UNC) 6:49
2nd round consolation: dec. Matt Mougin (N. Illinois) 7-2
3rd round consolation: L by dec. Mikey England (Iowa St.) 9-5
184 – #1 Robert Hamlin
Pigtail: dec. Nick Vetterlein (Virginia Tech) 10-4
Rd. of 32: major dec. Alex Meyer (Iowa) 12-4
Rd. of 16: major dec. Ryan Wolfe (Rider) 11-0
Quarterfinals: major dec. #8 Joe Rau (Elmhurst) 11-3
Semifinals: vs. #4 Travis Rutt (Oklahoma)
197 – John Bolich – Eliminated
Rd. of 32: L by dec. #3 Hudson Taylor (Lions WC) 6-2
2nd round consolation: dec. Ty Snook (Maryland) 6-2
3rd round consolation: L by dec. Derrick Borlie (Virginia Tech) 6-3
285 – Jack Delia - Eliminated
Rd. of 32: L by dec. #8 Ernest James (Edinboro) 4-2, s.v. 2
1st round consolation: L by dec. James Malechek (UW Parkside) 7-1
285 – Doug Vollaro (unattached) - Eliminated
Rd. of 32: L by dec. #11 Ben Apland (Michigan) 4-1
1st round consolation: Injury default