BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Following wins over a pair of top ten-ranked opponents on consecutive days, Lehigh senior Shane Welsh was named EIWA Wrestler of the Week Sunday night. Welsh entered the weekend unranked at 149, but posted wins over No. 9 Nick Lester of Oklahoma Friday and No. 7 Scott Sakaguchi on Saturday in what was a 1-1 weekend for the Mountain Hawks on the mats.
Welsh’s 3-2 decision over Lester Friday at Stabler Arena proved to be crucial in Lehigh’s 21-14 upset of the 16th-ranked Sooners. After a scoreless first period, Welsh took a 1-0 lead on a locked hands call against Lester in the second period and later added a reversal to go up 3-0. Lester escaped in the second and added another in the third but Welsh held on for the 3-2 victory to bring the Mountain Hawks within a point of the Sooners after four bouts. Welsh’s win also avenged a 10-0 major decision loss to Lester at the Midlands Championships in December.
On Saturday, Welsh and Sakaguchi met in the final bout of the dual after the Beavers clinched what was a 20-14 victory. Sakaguchi scored the only takedown of the match before Welsh reversed late in the period. Welsh took the lead with an escape in the second period, only to see Sakaguchi reverse to open the third period. Welsh escaped and earned another point for an illegal figure four to the head, but riding time advantage for Sakaguchi sent the match into overtime at 5-5. After a scoreless sudden victory period, Welsh rode out Sakaguchi in the first tiebreaker period and then scored the winning reversal with four seconds remaining in the second tiebreaker period to win 7-5.
With the victories, Welsh improved to 12-5 on the season. He has now won seven straight bouts since winning his seventh place match at the Midlands.
The defending EIWA Champion at 149, Welsh is the second Lehigh wrestler to be named EIWA Wrestler of the Week this season. Joey Napoli received the honor in November after posting wins over two top six-ranked opponents at 157 on consecutive days.
Welsh and the Mountain Hawks will be off from competition next weekend and will return to action on Sunday February 10 when EIWA rivals Harvard and Brown visit Leeman-Turner Arena. The Harvard match is set for a 1 p.m. start followed by Lehigh vs. Brown at 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by visiting Lehighsports.com or by calling 610-7LU-GAME.