By Steve Lomangino
Lehigh Sports Information
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh wrestling team bounced back from its dual season-opening loss to Bucknell by winning six bouts to upset No. 15 Bloomsburg 22-13 Friday night inside Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall. Freshman Darian Cruz took down Sean Boylan with one second remaining in the third period of their match at 125 to give Lehigh a six point advantage with one match left. In that final bout, sophomore Mason Beckman won a 2-0 decision over Nick Wilcox in a battle of top 12 wrestlers at 133.
With the win Lehigh improves to 1-1 on the dual season while Bloomsburg opens its dual season with a loss.
“It’s a process right now,” said Lehigh head coach Pat Santoro. “We really need to focus on scoring points. For the most part we were doing that but near the end of the dual we were thinking too much about winning and losing instead of scoring points.”
The dual began at 141 where sophomore Laike Gardner faced Mark Rappo. The Bloomsburg sophomore scored the first takedown, but it was all Gardner after that. Gardner scored takedowns in each of the first two periods, plus two more in the third and riding time advantage to win 11-3, giving the Mountain Hawks a 4-0 lead.
“That’s what Laike does,” Santoro said. “He will be fun to watch all year. Everyone likes to watch him wrestle and tonight he was a spark plug for the team.”
Freshman Mitch Minotti faced No. 7 Bryce Busler at 149 with Busler prevailing in a tight match 3-1. The key move was a second period reversal by Busler, who added 1:12 of riding time advantage.
At 157, senior Joey Napoli extended the Mountain Hawks’ lead to 10-3 with a third period pin of Kevin Hartnett. Napoli actually trailed 3-1 going to the third after giving up a first period takedown, but reversed Hartnett early in the third and slapped on a cradle to secure the fall in 5:13.
Bloomsburg picked up its only bonus win of the night as Josh Veltre won by major decision over freshman Brian Brill 16-6. Brill scored the first takedown off a low single in the first period, but Veltre reversed and later responded with an ankle pick of his own. Veltre scored a second period reversal and three point near fall plus three third period takedowns and riding time.
Freshman Elliot Riddick posted a 5-1 decision over Mike Dessino at 174 to give Lehigh a 13-7 lead at intermission. Riddick was able to successfully defend a lengthy first period scramble without giving up points and scored takedowns in the second and third periods.
Coming out of intermission, freshman Zach Diekel made his dual debut at 184 against Sam Shirey. Both wrestlers scored takedowns and escapes in the opening period, which ended tied at three. Diekel scored the only two takedowns after that, one in the second and one in the third, adding an escape and exactly one minute of riding time to win a 9-5 decision.
The Huskies refused to go quietly, winning the next two bouts as 11th-ranked Richard Perry held off sophomore John Bolich 3-2 at 197 and Justin Grant spoiled freshman Doug Vollaro’s varsity debut with an 8-2 decision at heavyweight.
The bout between Cruz and Boylan featured little offense through six minutes and 55 seconds before a late Cruz shot resulted in the winning takedown with one second remaining.
“Getting that first win in Grace was really big for Darian,” Santoro said. “It’s a tough place to win when you’re a freshman so hopefully he can build off it.”
Beckman clinched Lehigh’s first win of the season with a second period escape and 1:18 riding time advantage after riding out Wilcox in the third period.
“We still have a ton of work to do, especially with a big one on Sunday,” Santoro said. “We’ve got to get better every time we go out there. We were a little better this week than last week. We have to get a little bit better Sunday and a little better next weekend.”
The Mountain Hawks will return to the mats on Sunday when they host top ranked and three-time defending national champion Penn State at Stabler Arena. The match is slated for a 3 p.m. start. Tickets can be purchased at LehighTickets.com or by visiting the Stabler Arena box office on Sunday afternoon.
Lehigh 22 No. 15 Bloomsburg 13
141 – Laike Gardner (Lehigh) major dec. Matt Rappo (Bloomsburg) 11-3
149 – Bryce Busler (Bloomsburg) dec. Mitch Minotti (Lehigh) 3-1
157 – Joey Napoli (Lehigh) Fall Kevin Hartnett (Bloomsburg) 5:13
165 – Josh Veltre (Bloomsburg) major dec. Brian Brill (Lehigh) 16-6
174 – Elliot Riddick (Lehigh) dec. Mike Dessino (Bloomsburg) 5-1
184 – Zach Diekel (Lehigh) dec. Sam Shirey (Bloomsburg) 9-5
197 – Richard Perry (Bloomsburg) dec. John Bolich (Lehigh) 3-2
285 – Justin Grant (Bloomsburg) dec. Doug Vollaro (Lehigh) 8-2
125 – Darian Cruz (Lehigh) dec. Sean Boylan (Bloomsburg) 3-1
133 – Mason Beckman (Lehigh) dec. Nick Wilcox (Bloomsburg) 2-0
Attendance – 1,509
Referee – John Hnath